Had a sleep in and worked out that Christina and I could go up to Belfast and spend 2 nights there. We went to an internet café and worked out accommodation and transport while Kevin and Claudette went off to the Guinness factory. Christina and I then walked to Trinity College where unfortunately the Book of Kells was not on display but we got half priced tickets to see the exhibition all about the book which was well worth it as it explained all about how it was made and what it was like etc. I had heard a lecture at L’Abri about the book which was why I wanted to go see it in the first place. Its unbelievable how intricate all the celtic art work is and we found out why old books have ridges on their spine – from the binding thread!! It would have been amazing to see the actual book but there were other old examples of illuminated manuscripts which were fascinating. We went up to the Old Library and were blown away by the magnificence of the Long Room – it was a long corridor library that was 2 stories high and books covering the shelves. There were sliding ladders on each shelf to get to books. It was really old and we weren’t allowed to get too close or take photos so I sat and attempted to sketch it. It was such an inspiring place – white marble bust statues of academics such as Shakespeare, Plato etc. We browsed the gift shop – bought a postcard of what the room really looked like and a pair of celtic earrings. We walked up to St Stephens garden which was beautiful and a real sanctuary amongst the busy city – there was even flowers in the garden beds which we found amazing as it was so cold we couldn’t understand how they survived the cold!! It was freezing and snowed lightly so we went and had toasted sandwiched for lunch and watched the busy Christmas shoppers in the street outside. We then went to the National Museum of Ireland which housed the archaeological displays – it was so much better than I was expecting. I especially loved the jewellery exhibitions (Tara brooches are amazing!!) and the Viking artefacts – its fascinating how intricate their decorations are. There was a really interesting exhibition about an incredibly old book of Psalms that was found in the Irish bogs in 2008. It was and 800AD copy and since the bog preserved it the cover was intact which apparently is an amazing thing because its one of the earliest example of how books were bound. They had restored some of the pages and it was amazing to see. We looked around the rest of the museum – bumped in the Kevin and Claudette and then headed back to the hostel to pack and catch a bus to Belfast. We arrived at about 8pm in Belfast but I stupidly left my jacket on the bus so we had to wait around for almost an hour for the driver to come back and unlock the bus. (I felt so bad for Christina and was so angry at myself but I don’t think I’ll leave anything on a bus any time soon!!) We got a taxi to our hostel and the driver pointed out nice places to eat and cool things to see which was really nice. We checked into the hostel – a really new and fancy hostel and had dinner at a nice place nearby (yay for returning to pounds and affordable food!)
I found Ireland expensive compared to the UK – to put it in perspective: my hostel in Dublin was 15 euros a night and in Belfast only 6 pounds. A pint of cider in Dublin was 6.20 euros and meals were on average 14 euros. In Northern Ireland meals were back at around 9 pounds!!
We had an early night at the hostel – jut chatted and read in the hostel.