Sunday, August 15, 2010

Epic UK Road Trip: Volume 8 (AKA: My Birthday!)

Happy Birthday to Me!

I was lucky enough to get to spend my birthday in Ireland. I was even more lucky that I got to spend it with these three fun friends. In fact, I also spent my birthday with them last year, so now its a "tradition" and I have to figure out how to get back to the Continent next June!

On Monday morning, we left the Ballyeamon camping barn - sad to leave the story barn but happy to leave the Midges. We headed south with a plan to head into Belfast for a quick stop and lunch and then down to Dublin where we would stay the last couple days of our trip. The night before we had gotten directions to a restaurant/pub in Belfast - the John Hewitt, but frankly, I don't know that any of us could understand a word of what the guy was saying to us (mayby Collin a little bit) and none of us were taking notes on directions, so we decided to drive to downtown Belfast, near the Cathedral, and wander around until we found it.

Collin was driving and turned a corner... there was an open parking space, so we took it and got out. To find the John Hewitt was 20 feet away from us! Awesome! We walked down through downtown Belfast for a bit and then back to the JH for lunch (delicious!!). Our Belfast experience was not nearly long enough, but that suffices to tell you about it.

My first Coffee Stout
 After loading ourselves back into the car, we headed down to Dublin. Dublin is about 2 1/2 hours south of Belfast (about the distance from LA to San Diego) - but is in a different country! YES! On the way to Dublin, we finally left the United Kingdom and headed into the Republic of Ireland (which was doubly exciting because they are on the Euro - which was almost on par with the dollar!).

Collin matched the train.

Dublin is a notoriously expensive city and parking is super expensive, so we parked at a train station outside of Dublin (in Howth, by the sea) and then walked to our hostel. After a quick rest, we headed out for a little walk and some Dublin nightlife/birthday fun in the Temple Bar District.

We settled in at The Auld Dubliner for dinner and drinks. Even though we were about "pubbed out," the food there was good and the ambiance was nice. The waiters were super nice and during the dessert course (Bailey's pie), Candice went over to give them some candles to put in my pie (she had carried candles across the UK for me. cue sheepish/flattered grin) and they not only served me a birthday pie, but put a birthday song over the PA. I felt loved and super special.

I should have mentioned that my birthday is on the Summer Solstice, so even though we had steadily been traveling south, we knew that it would still be staying light fairly late into the evening. We decided to leave The Auld Dubliner and try to find another location with an outdoor beer garden.

We ended up at The Temple Bar where we had a great time, meeting people, enjoying some live music and laughing a lot! I tried my first pint of Guinness and was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked it! I met and chatted up and Irish guy named Phillip who was super chatty and fun, and then the group of us met up with some Irish 20-somethings who were pretending to be from all sorts of other countries. Lots of awesome laughs were had with these kids, who then invited us to come with them to a "club" nearby called The Purty Kitchen.

The Purty Kitchen experience involved: getting let in for free by the bouncers, a crazy squished dance floor with awesome American dance music, and Matt holding all the coats and drinks. Basically, it was a rave and I felt pretty cool to be at a rave on my 36th bday with a bunch of youngsters! We didn't get back to the Hostel until almost 2am and I felt like I was 25 again.

Fun was had! Check out the pictures!!

Matt and me at dinner.

Collin and Candice at dinner.

My first Guinness!

My new Irish friend, Phillip.


We had a pretty good time at the Purty Kitchen - Collin and I danced while Matt held the jackets and Candice people-watched.