Belfast Day 1

Continued from Amsterdam Day 3.

We love the late checkouts here in Europe. Out checkout is not until noon, so it’ll be nice that we don’t have to sit at the airport early. Oh yeah, we are heading to the airport today to fly to Ireland!!! Amsterdam…you’ve been beautiful, and the people are nice, but not sure that you are for us.

Oh yeah, about the drunk lady trying to open our door last night. We asked the front desk this morning and it turns out it was a Dutch lady who was sleepwalking in the middle of the night!! Hah!

Of course, the day we leave Amsterdam is the nicest day, weather wise, of the three days that we’ve been here.

Ohhhh, our bus just pulled up. Shit…I think we may just miss it…But we are too lazy to run for it.

Ah Ha!! Still made the bus by just walking to it. 5 Euros and about 30 minutes to the airport. The bus stop was also just two minutes walk from our hotel, nice.

CODE RED!!!!! Someone is taking photos of the Van Gogh Museum from a bus!!!

Security Breach!!!! Look at that long line. It’s been my experience that showing up early does not beat the crowd, but showing up in the afternoon has the least people. Late bird gets the worm!!

Take that Van Gogh museum, I’ll take all the photos I want of you from outside.

Yeah, what are you going to do? I am going to put this photo up on the web where the whole world can see it…just like they can from the street right outside of your museum. Punk!!

Another museum, Amsterdam Museum.

Reached the airport in no time.

And now, we start an unpleasant airport experience.

Oh, a Tesla Model S taxi.

Schiphol airport has only one giant terminal, but then it’s broken up into separate departure halls. So…you get in, and you need to find which departure hall you’ll be at.

Then you haul all of your possessions, and walk a really really far way to your departure hall. Yeah, this airport is big, it’s 6 runways big! Yeah, this sucks, why not just have terminals so you show up already closer to where you need to be?

Then once again, you need to reference the board to see which counter you can use to check in for your flight.

Sadly, we did not visit the panorama terrace, instead we saw the restrooms.

So, this is our check in counter, sure I can do this part.

Then after that, you reference the boards yet again, and figure out where you can drop off your check bag. Why are we walking everywhere just because??? Terrible!!! This is our check in counter.

Now we wait in a long slow moving line. And why is the line long?

Oh yeah, it’s long because they tried to automate luggage check here via machine, but it’s a TERRIBLE SYSTEM and I’ll explain.

Here’s the machines up close.

You scan your boarding pass, then the machine prints out a tag for you to adhere to your luggage. OK, that’s not too bad. The instructions are very specific that you need to put the tag on the top of the luggage and stand it up right…not sure why, but it soon becomes clear.

After you do all that, the gate closes and the machine tips your bad over backwards and it scans the tag before sending your bag away into the giant belly of the airport. In a perfect world, the tag would scan correctly, but not in our world. When the machine tips your bag over, half of the time, the bag would lay on top of the bag tag so that it couldn’t be scanned. Or even if the bag tag was unobstructed, it still won’t scan. EVERYONE was having trouble with these machines. Nice idea but TERRIBLE EXECUTION!!!! Anyhow, we finally got our bags to scan after several tries, but others tried and tried and tried and were never able to succeed.

OK, after that long ordeal of checking in our bags, we now go to our gate.

We walk and walk and walk, and we get through immigration…but funnily no security check. Then we realized that almost all gates here have their own security checks…Seriously? There are all these body scanner machines sitting unused most of the time because they wanted each gate to have their own security….why?

It’s just past lunch time, and we are starving. This is the ONLY restaurant in the area that serves about 30 different gates. Seriously?? WTF. This is how the Dutch stay skinny, by having no food available. Speaking of the Dutch people, I think they are even more fit than the Germans. They are all lanky and the women seem like they are almost as tall as the men.

My expensive lunch. Meh. RL got some fish and chips, but I forgot to get a photo of it.

Odd that this airport isn’t completely flat but there’s another airplane on a higher area.

The gates with their underused security equipments.

I guess they do provide a lot of plugs for electronics here, that’s the only plus to this shitty airport.

Small jet with 4 engines.

And of course, there’s major delay at our airport. There was strong fog in the morning, so all the flights were delayed for the rest of the day.

Finally time to board. No boarding groups, just everyone rush to the long line…sigh.

I did not know that some of the cockpit windows on the Airbus 320 opens.

I was so tired when I got on the plane I fell asleep immediately. A bit over an hour later, we are flying over Ireland. Of course, we left sunny Amsterdam for foggy and rainy Ireland.

It’s raining pretty good over here. The descent was quite bumpy and some girl a few seats over started freaking out and a stewardess had to come over to help her calm down.

Then we were stuck here at immigration forever. The EU passport line on the other side was super fast, everyone literally flashed their passports and they went on. This is the Non-EU passport line, which means half of the people had all sorts of paperwork needed to get in. There was only two guys working and one of them spent all his time screaming at some girl that her something something was expired….30 minutes later, we finally went up to the counter, and it was a breeze for us since we are Americans.

Now, onward to the Hertz counter, where we’ll be meeting up with JB again!!

There’s JB waiting for us, doing her little hair twirl thing, not noticing that we’ve just arrived.

I got another present for JB from our plane.

She’s been partying in Dublin, so she’s hungover and needs another vomit bag.

OK, catch the Hertz shuttle. It’s still raining.

Everyone had suggest getting the smallest car you can get away with in Ireland since many roads are narrow. We wanted to get the smallest car that we could get while still fitting all our packs inside the trunk.

They were out of Golfs, so we ended up with a Seat Leon. Look at me, driving on the wrong side of the road shifting with my left hand. It’s a weird sensation, and it’s quite stressful. I feel like I am learning how to drive again for the first time. We are leaving Dublin and heading straight for Belfast.

Pulled aside from highway to stock up on some food. We are starving.

Cool Saab. Even figuring out how to pull out of this rest stop was stressful going the wrong way.

Our in-car Burger King pick me up.

Still raining, but beautiful.

Rain rain rain….stress stress stress of driving on the wrong side. I kept on veering to the left…slightly veering.

Arrived at Belfast, and the rain has finally slowed. It took us a little bit under 2 hours to get here from Dublin. No one seems to follow the speed limits around here…oh wait…nevermind. It’s because it switched from kmh to mph going from Dublin to Belfast. So, halfway I was driving to kmh, and then it switch to mph…except my speedometer does not show speed in mph…I guess I’ll just estimate.

Finally got to our hotel after some very confusing driving on the streets of Belfast. There’s no parking on site, but there’s a parking garage not too far away…despite it being not too far away, it took us a lot of effort and wrong turns to get there.

And, it’s a very small parking garage filled with only little cars.

Don’t hit anything!!

Found a spot.

Perfect. The plan is to park the car here for the next two days and not touch it.

Checked into our hotel. This is what you get for $75 a night here in Belfast in the middle of the city. Not too bad.

Our shower head has LED lights that changes color based on water temp. Cool.

Lobby. Etap is part of the Ibis chain of hotels.

Hungry and thirsty. On the drive in, we saw a pretty cool looking pub that’s pretty close to us. It turns out that it’s actually a recommended bar in our guidebook.

In a real Irish pub for the first time ever. There weren’t any seating space, and we wanted some food, so we decided to go to the pub next door first for some food.

The pub next door….kitchen was closed. It’s not even 9pm yet!

The Crown dining room that’s above the first pub.

Kitchen also just closed…I guess the Irish don’t eat late.

The pizza joint right behind Crown pub will have to do for an easy dinner.

This will do just fine.

KL points.

We’ve got a whole series of coasters just like the one displayed on their wall!!

Back at Crown pub, cheers!

We found an empty private booth. The booth even has a door.

Not only does it have a door, it also comes with a buzzer.

Other travelers and their friends join us at our booth.

Two girls were Canadian and they were visiting their two friends, who are the Irish guys. They were bar hopping all night, and they made this stop before heading out to clubbing…Errr…don’t think that’s in store for us tonight. They were probably 10 drinks ahead of us.

Their cab arrives, and they say goodbye. It was actually kind of nice that they left, we weren’t really in a mood for such high energy drunken conversations.

JB presses the buzzer and gets embarrassed about it because the whole bar can hear it. No one showed up to take our order though…

Some Irish locals pop in to share our booth. These people were super nice and super awesome. They helped us plan our whole day for tomorrow to see Belfast!!

Here he is writing down everything we should do for tomorrow. The Irish are differently the nicest of the people who we’ve met on this trip so far.

By the time we leave, the bar is crowded. I believe most or all the bars only stay open until midnight over here and its almost closing time.

Some late night snack, found this next to our hotel.

There are a lot of Asians who travel here. JB is staying at a different hotel and she too said that there were buses full of Asians tourists at her hotel.

Some kebab then straight to bed. Tired, but happy to be in Ireland with warm welcoming people.

To be continued at Belfast Day 2 Part 1.

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