weekend adventures (2004-02-16 - 3:24 p.m.)
Well, I haven't been able to get online since Friday, and it seems like a lot of things have happened this weekend. Not as many as would have had I been feeling better, though, sadly. I'm not deathly ill or anything, and the sore throat has settled down to a pretty uneventful cold, but it's still unpleasant. Hard to sleep and hard to enjoy anything when I feel sick. Bleah.
However, I did discover two things that are helping. 1). Beechams Powders, which I was introduced to by Peter and Diane. I found the same product in capsule form here, and it's marvelous. 2). Hot whiskey! Have enough of those and you won't even notice you're sick. John's American roommate Kerry made me one on Friday, and then I went out to the pub with an enormous gang of international students that night and had many, many more. They have a lemon studded with cloves in them and somehow are just very soothing. It's the first time I had come across this particular drink, but it's my new favorite of the week.
Anyway, I was hoping to get down to Dublin today, but I didn't sleep well last night and decided travelling wasn't in the cards. I'm hoping to get going tomorrow, though. This weekend we went for a walk to see the murals along the Falls Road in Belfast, and stopped at the Culturlann (Irish cultural centre) for some food, where I had a very substantial stew for cheap. Unfortunately we also got pretty lost, and ended up in a very decrepit neighborhood full of garbage, mangy-looking dogs with limps, and kids running wild. (Belfast can be a little grim). The kids were friendly, though. They asked where we were from, and gave very cute directions when we asked the best way back into the city centre ("Find a black cab driver and get him to take you.") I'm finding it very hard to get used to this whole "Catholic neighborhood vs. Protestant neighborhood" thing. I have trouble wrapping my head around that, having spent my entire life with that feel-good Canadian multiculturalism. Not that there aren't problems, but they're not so vivid.
Anyway, we didn't do much on Saturday night (sat at home with John and read the newspaper: happy Valentine's Day!) but I did get to talk to my family, which was great. The newspaper was very worth reading, as Peter and Diane had a story in it on Peter's refusal to pay his council tax as a protest against the taxation system. I've got a copy of the article!
Sunday we meant to get a bus to Newcastle to see the ocean, but John said "Downpatrick" to the guy in the ticket box instead, which is where we ended up. We saw their little museum and St. Patrick's grave. I enjoyed seeing the countryside out the bus window as well. Also, we got approached by the local drug dealer who immediately knew we were Canadian before we'd opened our mouths! That's what you get for hanging out in a bus station and looking foreign, I guess. We politely said "no thank you."
When we got back, we stopped at the Crown for a drink (hot whiskey!), which is a wonderful old gaslit pub with great decor. I believe it's the oldest one in Belfast, in fact. That night we got fed: some of John's roommates cooked up a chicken and rice feast and fed almost 20 international students. Apparently they do this quite often, and it made for a crowded house! It was also quite odd to have a Spanish conversation going on in front of me, and two French ones to the side. I understood maybe a third of the French, but still not enough to be included in the conversation. Something I will have to get used to while travelling.
However, John's roommate Pierre has been teaching us many rude phrases in French, so my vocabulary is improving, at least! I just have to remember that I can't repeat anything Pierre has taught me in polite company. Maybe one of these days I'll get him to teach me some not-completely-offensive French as well, and actually gain some language skills from the experience.
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