End of the Road: Edinburgh and Belfast

Greetings from... America! Yes, I am home. I honestly can't believe how quickly four weeks go by. I woke up in the middle of the night last night and was really confused where I was. At one point I thought, "This duvet cover looks familiar... am I home?" But as they say, all good things must come to an end. So before I put myself on lockdown to work on my next book, I thought I'd wrap up my vacation blogs with my last stops: Edinburgh, Scotland and Belfast, Northern Ireland. My friend Amy came to visit during the last week of my vacation and we headed to Edinburgh. I visited Edinburgh when I was studying abroad in college and remember liking it, but as an adult, I LOVED it. It's such a beautiful, old city with lots and lots of hills. And I mean lots of hills. We certainly got a workout taking in the views. Case in point:

See that giant hill (more like mountain) behind me? Yeah, we climbed it. Proof:

Totally worth it! And that wasn't the only hill we scaled, this is from the much smaller Calton Hill:

From Edinburgh, we went to Belfast. Belfast has a troubled history, but is now a safe city to visit (I won't get into "The Troubles" here, but if you plan on visiting Belfast, I highly recommend taking a Black Cab tour that delves into the history). I've heard a lot about Belfast and suggested to Amy that we go. We are both so glad we did as it was a highlight of the trip for both of us. A lot of that has to do with the Northern Irish people, who are seriously some of the friendliest, funniest people you'll ever meet. Just an example of Northern Irish humor, on a sign for a Titanic walking tour: "She was all right when she left here." The Titanic was built in Belfast.

We went to visit Giant's Causeway on our first full day, which is an extraordinary rock formation on the coast. There are tens of thousands of these perfectly formed, nearly hexagonal rocks that are all natural (from a volcanic eruption). It's over 60 million years old and ancients believed it to be the work of giant's, hence the name.

One of my favorite quotes from the day came when Amy and I were taking in the view. She said in a New Jersey/Soprano's accent: "This is freakin' beautiful right here." After laughing for about twenty minutes, I started talking for pretty much the rest of our time there in a very bad New Jersey accent about bringing my cousin Vinny over for some cannolis and pasta to fully enjoy the view (by the way, I am not Italian nor do I have a cousin named Vinny). If you ever go on vacation with me, I will not only burst into different accents, I occasion like to spontaneously bust out dance moves (the running man was a favorite this trip) and songs. It's amazing that Amy keeps agreeing to go places with me. Thank goodness for friends who do not embarrass easily...

On the way back from the Giant's Causeway, we got to go to the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge (or what I kept referring to as "crack-a-rack" for no other reason than I'm an idiot). Now, some people choose not to cross over because it's 250 feet high and a little unstable (it is a rope bridge after all), but I'm not really scared of heights, so...

Now both the guide book and the bus driver suggested you don't look down. But do I listen? Of course not, I had to take a picture!

The next day, we explored the city of Belfast, including the beautiful City Hall.

We took a tour of City Hall and they even let you sit in the Lord Mayor's Chair.

Belfast is a very walkable city. But that didn't stop two competing bus tour guys fighting over me. I always enjoy two boys fighting over me, sure it was to sell me a ticket, but in my mind, it was all for love! (Do we now see why I need to write fiction?)

We ended our time in Belfast with a little pub crawl (when in Ireland...) that a local (Hi Aaron!) offered to take us on because again, Belfast people are super nice! Especially since I first talked to Aaron because  he was wearing a Pittsburgh Steelers hat so I just had to go up to him and say, "Hi, I'm from Wisconsin. Go Packers!" Not the best start to a friendship, but sometimes I just can't help myself...

These last four weeks have been so much fun. Thank you to those who have e-mailed, Tweeted, Facebooked, etc. me about how much you've enjoyed these posts. I enjoyed writing them! Now it's back to work (and reality) for me!

XOXO, Elizabeth