Wednesday, August 08, 2007

the land of little green men, part three

day three: and i've got a picture to prove it!

the scariest bathroom i have ever encountered (spot-a-pots excluded) was in warrenpoint, northern ireland. we stopped shortly after crossing the border in order to hit the ATMs en masse so we could stock our wallets with pounds and pence, in addition to the euros we were already lugging around. i'm unsure of the state of the men's facilities, but the women's restroom was lacking soap, toilet paper and, oddly enough, seats. i seem to recall something strange going on with the ceiling, too, but can't be sure. i remarked in my journal that i'd felt compelled to take lots of pictures, but, well, you know how my camera felt about those pictures from early in my travels.

we were let loose in belfast for an hour or two, which is where i was introduced to chicken tikka sandwiches. as i recall, tikka is an indian spice, though i should probably take the initiative to google or wikipedia the term to be sure......some other time, perhaps. i also decided it was time to broaden my horizons and picked up a variety of oddly flavored chips- sweet thai chicken, prawn cocktail, worchestershire sauce- some proved more delightful than others and begged to be smuggled back through customs.

during our bus tour of belfast, we stopped at queen's college, which (take notes- this could be on jeopardy one day) was the first university in the UK to permit women to earn degrees. according to our tour guide, anna, when c.s. lewis was born in 1898, his mother already had a college degree from queen's university.

in other trivia, the titanic was built in belfast, as were the other 11 "sister" ships in her fleet. three of the twelve ships- the titanic, the olympic, and the brittanic were built exactly alike- the titanic and olympic were built side by side, and the brittanic was built upon their completion. (of the three ships, only the olympic managed to stay afloat long enough to be decommissioned and dismantled. the brittanic, which served as a military hospital ship, was hit by a torpedo in 1916 and sank in about an hour- half the time it took the titanic to go under after her little run-in with an iceburg four years earlier.)

after a brief photo op at the house of parliament (interestingly, my camera decided to let me keep those pictures), we headed to our hotel, the stormont.

dinner at the hotel was nothing short of interesting. to accomodate our large group (as well as the other tour group staying at the hotel that evening), the restaurant was set up with a buffet arrangement, which was an interesting choice, considering the space limitations. as it turned out, even with our group sitting down to eat over half an hour before the other group, the food line snaked between tables and while mama spoke with our tablemates for the evening (ken and marie from new zealand), i sat there wondering what it would take to get a conga line going- preferably one that would allow yours truly to spend a little extra quality time with the cucumber slices and tomato wedges at the salad bar.

i keep forgetting to mention the silverware we encountered in ireland (both in the republic and in northern ireland.) here in the states, all of our silverware is positively dainty compared to the dining implements we encountered in ireland. the forks and knives weren't too much larger than what we're used to, but the spoons....i would have brought one back had i not thought they weighed enough to possibly cause "overweight suitcase" charges on my way home. the spoons for tea and coffee are the closest equivalent to our standard spoons, and their standard spoons are slightly larger than our teaspoons. while i have been accused of having a rather big mouth, i found it a physical impossibilty to stuff one of those trowels intomy mouth. (which leads me to wonder if my "big mouth" is a trait inherited from my irish forebears....)

as the table was cleared after each course, the silverware was removed, as well. by the time dessert rolled around, i was down to only my trowel-like spoon. unfortunately, all of the cheesecakes that were placed on the dessert table had been snapped up by folks who'd skipped the second trip to the hot food buffet, so by the time i was ready for dessert, all that was available was jello with fruit in it. (dessert had also been set out for the other tour group, and a member of our group was harshly reprimanded for daring to take a piece of cheesecake off of the other group's table.)

i used to be a jello eater, before the "jello shot incident" during my college career. our evening in belfast marked only the second time i'd been near jello in nearly ten years.....and the first time i'd ever attempted to dig berries out of jello with a spoon the size of a small trowel. i'm telling you- you haven't lived until you've chased half a strawberry around your plate, trying to hack off the stem with a trowel-like spoon. i'm thinking about officially adding that particular skill to my resume, as i'm certain it's an invaluable one to have.

after dinner, mama retired to the bar with our tablemates, as well as john, an aussie whose name she didn't actually know until a day or two later, while i headed outside to scribble in my journal.

it was a little chilly (60s), very cloudy, and i guess it had been sprinkling during dinner. a wedding party arrived as i tipped one of the metal patio chairs to let the water run off before i set up camp and started scribbling postcards and recording the events of the day in my journal. unfortunatley, it seems i didn't tip the chair quite far enough for all the water to run off, as i soon felt the seat pattern soaking through the seat of my jeans. while i'm generally all for people looking at my butt (especially when i'm wearing my "good butt" jeans, as i happened to be doing at the time), pointing and laughing while doing so is generally discouraged.

as usual- stylish and fashionable no matter where i go.

in the next captivating chapter: mama has an identity crisis in the middle of breakfast, we find bathrooms with toilet paper and seats, and a stranger lurks in our shower.


jamwall said...


What's happenin! Come on over, we'll have a cowbell humping pants party!

I have no idea what I just wrote.

duff said...

jamwall: i'm not sure it's possible to refuse an offer like that....partially because i'm still trying to work out exactly what the offer was. :~)