Belfast, Northern Ireland

In this week’s adventures…

Cliffs of Moher

‘Twas the night before the cliffs, it was quiet all around. The stomachs began a stirring, so we headed downtown; The coin was flipped, glimmering in the air, Charcoal Grille or Supermac’s? Or both if we dare; The coin had spoken: “Charcoal Grille,” it said; While visions of curry cheese fries danced in our heads; And I, in my confidence, decid-1.jpged I could eat more, so in addition to some fries, a lamb, chicken and special sauce burger I explored.The next day my confidence in surviving the trip’s winding bus path would plummet, And that is how I learned a lesson about eyes bigger than stomachs.

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The Cliffs of Moher were beautiful beyond measure – I am always stunned by what nature is capable of creating. One could say my grotesque eating habits the night before in comparison to the majesty and patience of the cliffs could be a metaphor of sorts for some kind of human vs. universe construct. I prefer to just blame the coin we tossed.

Belfast, North Ireland

The next morning, after the Cliffs of Moher, Lad Hannah and I departed for Belfast, North Ireland. Belfast was going to be one of our shorter trips – we would only be spending 26 hours in the city. Nine of which were intended for a Game of Thrones tour.

For those of you unfamiliar with the part of Galway we are inhabiting, the town is quaint and cobblestone. Despite the fact that I still get lost, there are parking garages larger than the city center. Needless to say, Belfast is rather bustling in comparison. Within minutes of getting off the bus, we were lost with no help from the trendy tweens who cold shouldered our plea for directions. In a souvenir shop, we found little respite with a map that soon was deemed unusable because our hostel was about six inches off where the map ended. When we finally made it to our Belfast digs, we were – I bet you can guess where this is going – hungry.

Craving a meal rich with spices and warmth, we discovered an Indian / Mexican fusion restaurant through TripAdvisor. Let the record show that TripAdvisor has operated as my over the pond Yelp. Kurrito is a fast casual experience similar to Chipotle: select a bowl, burrito or tacos, your protein and then the rest of the fillings as you move along a queue. The unique selling proposition? Kurrito offers the same vessel options with Indian inspired flavors such as samosas, daal lentils and coriander.

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The restaurant’s owner was a motherly figure much needed in the streets of Belfast, where we could not hold our own with a bunch of stylish seventh graders. She was concerned Hannah was not getting enough vegetables and insisted if she were her own daughter, she would insist on piling more cucumbers, tomatoes and tangy chickpeas. But I was most enchanted by the man working behind the counter alongside her. As he served another customer, he explained with knowledge and care the flavors of each option, the health benefits and his passion for the kind of food he was interacting with. I have never had a fast casual experience that left me feeling anything other than inflated. But watching the sense of pride and empowerment he derived from sharing a vibrant, nourishing meal with wandering travelers left me satisfied in stomach and soul.

And then the next morning we departed to Winterfell! On the tour we met:

  • Our tour guide, the ever smiling Robbie, who was also an extra in The Battle of Blackwater Bay. In addition to being one of Stannis’ archers, he died seven times in the battle.
  • Another tour guide, who was also an extra in the battle and a stuntman.
  • A Dothraki Slave Master and…
  • His three sons who just finished wrapping the upcoming season. They were originally told they couldn’t been on the show because they were “too young and too good looking.” The directors were right – they are so good looking. They also are the owners of….
  • THE ORIGINAL DIREWOLVES. I essentially got to pet the Air Bud and Beethoven of Winterfell. -3.jpg

We got to see:

  • The hotel where the cast stayed. I ate soup in the same seat as Ned Stark, probably!
  • Winterfell.
  • The Twins.
  • The wildling pit.
  • The bridge where they discover the direwolf puppies.
  • Robb’s camp.

We watched the first episode on the way back to downtown Belfast and basically hit every place outside of King’s Landing. But the most important thing I learned? There is someone on payroll for the show and his job is to create a portfolio of “sexy trees.” So next time you see some rather alluring foliage on the show? Show business is nothing but intentional!

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