IRELAND: Part Three, Derry (Special Episode)
This pic came out a little blurry, but I still like it. It's strange, like Derry.
Coming back from the Causeway Coast, we made our way in to Derry. It was Val's birthday, and time for a birthday dinner. We parked the car in a ramp that was open until 9:15pm, after passing two ramps that said open until 7pm but had closed early. We walked around mostly closed businesses and open pubs, and saw some young guy trying to get his girlfriend to wake up and not sleep on the sidewalk (We assumed she was drunk...). Eventually we were overlooking the Bogside neighborhood, home to the events of Bloody Sunday, back in 1972. We decided to take in the murals from afar, rather than hike down the hill and back up again...
What we really wanted was to figure out how to get onto the walls of Derry to walk around "The Walled City". We realized you had to pass through one of the entrance gates and then access the wall stairs from the INSIDE of the Walled City.
We walked around two corners worth of wall, and clearly Derry has a had a long history of trouble, and a long history of defending itself, sometimes in more recent history, from itself.
We came down from the wall, and tried to go find another piece of Val history, "Sandino's" a bar that Val and Jenna and the rest of their group had been to a decade earlier. We found it, realized our £s were in the car, found a cash machine, then returned for a pint of Smithwicks. The bartender was playing "SMILE" at a healthy volume, and a strange cast of characters kept emerging from a doorway that led upstairs. Val seemed to remember it was a "performance" space or something of the sort, so we guessed at what their common bond might be.
After our pints, we were in search of food, and after checking a few pubs without food, we asked for a suggestion. "Back down the hill and there you'll find some good restaurants." so back from whence we came. Upon returning to the corner with the youth and his drunk girlfriend, we realized there were a few more people hovering around her and one of them was on a cell phone trying to get an ambulance to come. She was apparently ODing on heroin, and nobody could get her to sit or stand up. The phone woman was trying to tell the operator that they could figure out the address if they'd just put the intersection into their computer, and never mind that just send the ambulance. We had no help to offer so we watched for a moment and continued walking. A few minutes further around the block we heard and saw the ambulance, so we hoped for the best.
Not to make light of someone's unfortunate situation, but I wish someone had hoped the best for us. We sat down at not one, but two different restaurants and decided we were creeped out by their vibes and got up and left. We chose a "sushi" place across the street from strike two, and were awkwardly surprised. It wasn't bad, but not unlike pizza, every country has a slightly different take on sushi. It was filling, reasonably priced (for Ireland, at least), and Val had a sake and I had a Sapporo, so all was not lost.
After "dinner" we headed back into our shopping complex/parking ramp and picked up a Belgian chocolate tart dessert and a few bottles of wine.
Outta the ramp and Derry, and back to the Republic for "cheaper" gas. We filled our nearly empty 10 gallon tank for €50, and we were on our way back to the farmhouse for dessert and a little Shiraz.
I don't hold it against Derry, but I think I still owe Val her birthday dinner...
NEXT: Back on the road...to Galway!