Thursday, November 20, 2014

November 20th

I currently seem to be on the world's weirdest sleep schedule. I'm not sleeping like I'm at home or like I'm here...I don't know what time zone I'm in. I'm also extremely tired for a good portion of the day.

Now, the Game of Thrones tour. It was incredible. I'm so tired right now that the idea of typing out all of the details seems really daunting, so I'm going to be brief, and then at a later date I'll post photos with more details.

After struggling to find where on earth I was supposed to actually start the tour (thank goodness Belfast has the best cab drivers in the world, no joke), I arrived, was checked in quite easily, and boarded the bus. I immediately knew I chose the right tour company because they were playing the soundtrack on the bus while we waited for everyone. (That, and the company is actually the company that works for the show so they take the cast and crew to the locations and have all the inside details.) Our driver and guide were both fantastic.

We started off with a scenic route which led us by where there was actual filming happening right then and there, but it was on the other side of the bus and I didn't get a great picture. But I did get to see "the Wall" sort of...you'll see when I post my terrible picture of it! It was pretty sweet though. Our guide told us all sorts of Irish folklore and actual history as well, which was great. The drive never seemed long.

Along the way, we stopped at the locations where they filmed Ned beheading the Night's Watch deserter, the cave where Melisandre birthed the shadow baby, Renly's camp, and the shores of the Iron Islands, which doubled as the place from where Arya departs at the end of season four. We also went to the Giant's Causeway for lunch - nothing to do with Game of Thrones, but it's a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it's really gorgeous, albeit an arduous walk. Our final stop was the Dark Hedges, which are neither dark nor hedges. But they are really gorgeous, especially as the sun starts to set, which is when we arrived. We then took a main road back into Belfast while our guide told us behind the scenes info about nearly all of the actors, as well as secrets about the costumes, weapons, and even the books. (I'm going to be respectful of his wishes that this info not be spread around everywhere, but Lexa, if you're reading this, hit me up. I'll fill you in.)

Overall, the tour was amazing. It was extremely picturesque, and Northern Ireland really is a lovely and diverse place. We passed hills and valleys, loads and loads of livestock, and gorgeous seaside views. It was very typically Irish in its landscape, from the farms to the houses to the cliffs.

And this leads me to my next point...

Tomorrow I'm taking an even longer coach tour. This time I'll be visiting the Cliffs of Moher, as well as a few stops along the way. It's a 12 hour tour though- I'm supposed to depart at 6:50 AM and get back to Dublin between 6:00-7:00 PM. And it's looking like there might be a fair bit of walking around the cliffs. Normally that wouldn't turn me off, but on the Game of Thrones tour there were two occasions where after walking uphill for a not-too-long (half a mile to a mile) period of time, I felt literally sick to the point where I was lightheaded. And yes, I kept up with eating and drinking lots of water! I think I've just become massively unfit.

So my dilemma is this: I just took a nap. I'm still really tired. I have to be up at 5:00 AM. I'm worried that the Cliffs are going to entail a lot of walking and it's going to be really hard for me since my body apparently doesn't want to do too much walking. (I also hate being on a forced schedule for eating...and since this tour covers when I would normally eat breakfast, lunch AND dinner, and I know we won't stop for all of those things...what to do?) At my hotel in Belfast, they served breakfast starting at like 4:00 AM so I was able to have a big buffet breakfast before the tour. Here? Tesco won't be open until 8:00, and this hotel charges an obscene amount for breakfast, so I'm not sure.

I really want to go on this tour. But if I wake up in the morning feeling exhausted, I don't want to over-exert myself. Plus, on the Game of Thrones tour I did already get to see some gorgeous scenery that typified a lot of Irish landscape in my mind...so I'm feeling really conflicted about the whole thing. I guess we'll see how I feel tomorrow!

If I opt out of the tour tomorrow, I'd be able to have a full day in Dublin to do as I please. I'm open Saturday as well, but I have to pack and such. I've also done something to my neck, it seems- on the train ride back from Belfast today (which, by the way, is the quickest two hours ever. Seriously. Both times it felt super short, plus it was a really smooth ride and fairly scenic outside, although today it as foggy), I noticed what felt like possibly a pulled muscle, probably from carrying around my too-heavy weekender bag I brought up to Belfast.

I wouldn't mind going back to Trinity College, and there are still some places in Dublin I haven't seen. I can also always hop on a train like I do to get to Dún Laoghaire and head up to one of the other cities recommended to me, like Skerries. On top of all that, the weather is a factor- if it's pouring down rain, that changes things. The weather has been really pleasant for me so far though! Only rained as I was leaving Dún Laoghaire.

I wish I'd had another day to shop in Belfast, and to explore the city a bit more without feeling rushed. (You know, like how I felt about Dublin last time I was here.) I still haven't had a day here to really get around Dublin much, and I'd also like a rest day, so I feel like I'm talking myself out of the tour tomorrow here...I don't know.

I guess I'll just have to see how I feel in the morning. A 12-hour tour is a big commitment and I wouldn't see any of Dublin that day, and I'm sure the next day I wouldn't be up for doing too much other than chilling at my hotel all day. I'm so conflicted! I guess I'll have to sleep on it. :)

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