12 June 2012, Gail’s trip log

Got up at 615 for 630 room service breakfast. Opened the curtains and we were just pulling in to Belfast Harbor. We are now in Northern Ireland, a part of the United Kingdom. Belfast was not nearly as pretty or interesting as Dublin. Our tour left at 830. Our guide was OK – funny old chap – but his accent was so thick it was difficult at times to understand him. Weather was also not as good as yesterday – cold and a little rain, but not too bad. We drove around the city and then out to the Phoenix Park to see the President’s House and the house of the US Ambassador to Ireland. There was a huge herd of deer in the park, 50 or more, a remnant of when the area was the King’s hunting grounds. Obviously they’re not afraid of tour buses or dogs that people had in the park. We passed the Harlan and Wolff shipyard where the Titanic had been built. There is a large memorial and a whole museum about the Titanic, but we’d chosen not to take the tour that went there since we’d seen a big Titanic exhibit in Chicago. We drove more around downtown and had a half hour stop at the Botanical Gardens where we also grabbed some juice and visited the loo.  Back on the bus we drove through the area where the IRA and other groups battled for years after the start of “The Troubles” in 1969. There are still walls with all kinds of murals on them about those times.  Our guide was careful to just give facts and not blame one side or the other. He and everyone else (including in Dublin) seemed glad that Ireland is now quiet and open to tourism and improving their economy. We got back to the ship at 1230, but Dan decided he wanted to pack up and ship out extra “stuff” home from here and not wait until our free day in Le Havre (which was my plan). It made sense to deal with people who speak English and don’t hate Americans who don’t speak French. I helped him get ready and take it down to the pier where he got a taxi to DHL – since he needed boxes and packing he knew the Post was out.  I gathered a load of laundry together and got it done while he was gone. Think we’re OK until we get to Cinda’s now, just over a week. Dan got back about 230 – had gotten most of it into one DHL flat-rate box which will supposedly get to St. George in 3 days, since they only do air. Cabby even waited for him to take care of all of it and then brought him back to ship. Dan spent the rest of the afternoon working on pictures and I read in the cabin. We had an early supper in the buffet and will be in bed soon. Full day tour tomorrow – with a cruise on Loch Lomond – then we get a sea day – Yay!

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