Several observations from three days on the Irish island...

  • A highlight of this trip was a day trip to Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK.  A 90-minute bus tour encompasses several of the key sites, on both sides of the past "troubles".  Obviously I've heard about the Northern Irish conflict for my entire life, but it was very different to see it, still very prominent today.  It had never been clear to me that the different groups live literally side-by-side in certain Belfast neighborhoods, sometimes with fences and barricades separating, othertimes just a difference in the flags flying and murals on the walls.  On the other hand, Belfast today seems a very different place -- with huge new blocks of apartments and shops, a modern city centre inclusive of a convention center, and plans to turn the shipyards into a multipurpose "Titanic district" over the next 15 years.  Like the difference between my first visit to Berlin in the 90s and today, it will be interesting to watch this change continue in the North.  Next time, Giant's Causeway is a required stop.
  • Kathleen introduced me to Nurofen Meltlets while in a Boots in Belfast.  Ibuprofen with no water needed.  Great for carrying in the laptop bag.  On the other hand, we learned that the UK has some kind of a law limiting the quantity of ibuprofen purchased in any single transaction -- whereas in the US we can buy them in quantities of 500 tablets or more.
  • It never ceases to amaze me, after five visits, how friendly the Irish are.  It's just a joy to discover their country through words and dialogue.
  • However, I did embarass myself by dining in a copycat American Diner (worse yet, a chain!) called "Eddie Rockets".  I was sited by enough people that I can't deny this one.  Wagamama the night before was a much better choice.
  • (Added much later Saturday) -- The low-fare airlines have really had an effect on the Irish transport market.  Six years ago, when I took my first Aer Lingus flight from Dublin to London, the plane was mostly a business-class service, and they served a hot meal during that 50-minute flight.  Today, even the boarding passes are a monochrome red and white -- and the DUB-LHR flight was entirely economy class, with food/beverage available for purchase.
  • vowe found "extreme clamping" at Dublin International Airport.  No, Volker, this is extreme clamping:
Image:Notes from the Irish road
I'll upload a bunch of pictures to my flickr pages in the next few days.

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