Belfast barhopping (2004-02-19 - 4:23 p.m.)
Well, I still haven't made it out of Belfast, but things are improving as far as actually doing something. Last night John was burning up with fever, so I put him to bed (gave him the real bed even, not the air mattress on the floor!) and went out with his roommate Kerry and some coworkers. Jamie, her coworker at Cafe Renoir (a coffee shop/pizza joint) is this crazy Canadian-Aussie surfer dude. He has a friend, Robbie, visiting from Australia. We went and hung out at the Menagerie, which is a great little dive bar (for Edmonton folk, sort of the equivalent of the old Likwid Lounge, but with better decor!) There were a couple of singer-songwriter type people playing, and it was generally a pretty cool place.
Kerry couldn't handle the downbeat acoustic music, though, so we moved on to Dukes to meet up with some more coworkers. One of them turned out to be from Calgary, which was cool. And another one was actually Irish, making him I think the third person I've met who is from this country and not French, Swiss or North American!
It's odd how you can stay in a city for weeks and weeks, and not really feel like you've actually seen the city until you've been taken out by someone who actually lives there. It's like you have to crack the code or something - have someone show you around, and then you really know what it's like to live in that particular city. London, for example, I still don't feel like I've really seen. I've seen the touristy things, but never really cracked the surface of what it would be like to be a Londoner. Same thing here. Last night I finally started to get an idea of what it would be like to live in Belfast. (Even though hardly anyone I was with was actually FROM Belfast; the concept seems to hold regardless).
Anyway, when the bar fight started I really and truly felt like I saw the real Belfast! I'm kidding, but it was defintely authentic. Three bouncers and five or six random people. Someone got thrown through the glass doors, and you could see the trail of blood on the way out. The funny thing was this wasn't a dive - it was a classy-looking hotel bar. I never did find out what the fight was about, but as we gingerly stepped past the broken glass we were treated to a view of three Belfast armoured police vehicles and ten or so policemen milling around looking scary.
Then we grabbed a black taxi and stopped at the Hatfield, which is apparently somewhere you can get wine after hours. Then we stopped for some pizza and garlic bread and headed back to Dunluce Ave, where poor John was still awake and feeling terrible. The conversation was pretty interesting - between the two of them Jamie and Robbie have been all over the place, and Rochelle from Calgary has travelled as well. The highlight of the conversation, though, was Jamie's story that began, "Once, when I was in bed with my boss and his three wives..."
Anyway, at some point I ditched and went to bed, but it must have been close to 3 am. So much for going somewhere today! However, I did go and pick up bus schedules, and also got a call from Ruth Ferrey's sister Isabelle, who apparently lives very close to Belfast. I haven't managed to get ahold of her yet, but if I do perhaps I can visit her. I still feel a little strange about sort of showing up on the doorstep of relatives of distant relatives, but when I think about it... I just spent the last night hangin' out with six people I didn't know a week ago, and who are friends of the roommate of my ex. So really, at this point I will take all the acquaintances I can get!
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