Saturday, June 7, 2014
Day 1 is actually Day 2 for us due to traveling, but without the night of sleep in the middle. I guess that means the day starts with all nine of us finishing a long plane trip, getting through customs, saying hi to Dr. Gale, piling all of our luggage into a van, introducing ourselves to David Hinsley (our first driver), and getting to Ballydugan cottages for brunch and a chance to breathe.
And above equals half of Day 1!
After that we went to Lakeside Manor, leased by JBU. It gave us a chance to take a long drive (during which it rained lightly), take pictures of the beautiful building, and go inside to send quick emails to loved ones saying, "We made it! We're alive! By the way it is raining and my umbrella is in my checked bag :(" Then we left to see a castle after adding Scott Jones to our group.
Belfast City Castle is not a rocky, crumbly castle. It is a very nice stately castle with a garden of hidden cats, hidden in mosaics, fountains, and garden plants. Inside the castle was a gift shop and many people wearing wedding dresses. Just outside the castle was a bunch of beautiful trees that were perfect for climbing and held a very wild feel.
Driving through Belfast, we went to a beautiful garden right next to Queen's University. White roses and many other flowers along with some palm trees were all placed in a maze-like design. It also stopped raining so we could see the sun hit the flowers perfectly. Keep in mind that it is the evening and the sun is still bright. In Ireland, the sun stays up till almost 9 p.m., and it doesn't get very cold,either. Dinner was at a nice Italian restaurant called Villa Italia, which had lovely seafood, chips (not the American kind), and pasta. It gave us all a nice time to sit and talk about the full day we had and earlier trips we had made at some point or another.
The day ended with a quick trip to Asda (think: Walmart) and getting our keys to the cottages. The cottages themselves are a beautiful representation of Ireland. It summed up Day 1 perfectly. The buildings are older and have gardens around them that can be seen by the nice windows. The hardest thing at this point was making the decision to go to sleep rather than go to explore the still-daylight countryside of Northern Ireland.
JBU Graduate Education Student