The whole concept of the European adventure trip was created thanks to West Jet’s extremely low prices on flights from St. John’s to Dublin, non-stop, in four hours. It was the ideal way for two students with no money to get to Europe, the flight being one of the most expensive parts of an international trip. Once you get to Europe, transportation is relatively affordable, but those flights from Halifax to London can be killer, so we snagged the cheap seats to Dublin, booked them one-way, and set off. The flight would take us around 11 at night from St. John’s, and put us in Dublin at 7 in the morning, perfect timing.
We arrived in Ireland just as the sun was coming up, and watched the sky turn from black to blue to purple to brilliant reds and oranges as we got closer and closer to our destination. The perfect start to a trip.
Of course, arriving in another country is always less perfect than one hopes. Customs was a breeze, apparently we were not very interesting to the Irish, and shockingly, all of our very large bags arrived. But the Dublin airport is not particularly user friendly, and although many tourists, especially from North America, ride the buses (due to the whole, cars on the other side of the road business), the Irish don’t like signage. Also, because we were taking a bus from Ireland to Northern Ireland, we could not buy those bus tickets online. We wandered around for a while before discovering that in fact if you just stand outside the airport, a large Irishman will sell you tickets on a bus to wherever you want to go (north, or south), and will even load your bags for you! Who knew it could be so simple…
I am sure Rachel would love to talk about how lovely the Irish countryside is from Dublin to Belfast, but she can’t, because she slept the whole way. No matter. Suffice it to say, the Irish countryside is, in fact, lovely.
The bus dropped us off on the side of a busy street where we unloaded our bags and set off for our hostel. Just to clarify, when we left Canada, we had a one-way ticket to Ireland, with no idea of when we would be returning. We had each packed a large backpack, plus our snack bag, plus a day pack. We are very tiny people. We had no idea where we were going, and really hoped we didn’t have to walk too far. And we didn’t. Our hostel was on a quiet street near Queen’s College. Having missed breakfast, we headed off in the direction of the college district to find a student-priced meal, and we hit the jackpot at Maggie May’s, a packed diner and coffee spot, with heaping portions of eggs, potato farls, fried tomatoes, vegetarian sausage, toast, and endless coffee. Full and caffeinated, we hit the streets of Belfast to figure out where we were and see the sights, including – of course – the really big fish.