Over There

River Lagan in Belfast

Well then, what is this Irish part of the UK like in the current phase of our pandemic lives?

“Strange” is the only answer I can come up with. Their restrictions are similar to Scotland’s but not the same. As in Scotland, most are trying very hard to comply but a significant minority is determined to carry on helping the virus to get around.

My hotel (AC Marriott again) and its staff were great.

AC Marriott

Some of the guests – not locals or Scottish judging by their accents – were a problem. No masks. No distancing. Plenty arrogance. Clearly fans of the “just let the bodies pile up” approach Johnson loves.

The car rental company (Enterprise) were struggling – not enough cars, or cars in the wrong places. I do not remember ever sitting waiting for an hour past the booked time for my car. Their staff were excellent on damage limitation however, and the car I was given (some kind of Vauxhall) was a massive upgrade on the tiniest box on wheels which I had booked. I got a 20% discount too.

I ate in the hotel one night – too tired to tackle the complexity of finding a restaurant I wanted with a time slot which would suit me.

Marriott Room Service

The other night I ate tacos by the riverside, bought from a street stall. They were fantastic. Later I discovered it gets great reviews on … no, I will not use that brand name here.

I took the train to Portrush one day – it is about 90 minutes each way. It was an unhappy experience thanks to local Covidiots. Again, a small number caused the problems but in a confined space it is more scary. I could see that a good number of other passengers were annoyed too.

Coffee in Portrush

As well as important things – like feeling safe in public places – little things can be tricky too. My hotel was not able to keep my bag for me for a few hours after checkout. Covid.

The airport bus only accepts the correct money or a prepaid ticket. Covid. I had a £10 note. I could see no notice of this policy at the bus stop, nor was there a ticket machine. With the service being only every hour… anyway, the driver let me travel for free after I offered to let her keep the change.

Portaferry at Strangford Lough

Attitude is important when these irritations come up. My solution is to focus on all those weeks locked up during the winter, and being grateful to be free to travel a bit now.

ⓒ iain taylor, 2021


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One Response to Over There

  1. CliffClaven says:

    Did you visit the Crown Liquor Saloon in Belfast? It’s an exuberant example of Victorian splendour. Nowadays, you are likely to hear American, European or Australian accents among the customers, but the barmen still growl reassuringly in their harsh Northern Irish accents.

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