November 22, 2007: Northern Ireland

We got up at five in the morning. We had originally worried about getting up at four and rushing to the airport but everyone that I spoke to in London said that because we were just taking a domestic flight from little Gatwick Airport that we only needed to arrive twenty to thirty minutes before the actual flight and that we would be perfectly fine. So we were not very concerned about the time. We assumed that flying inside of the UK was nothing like flying inside of the US.

We took a taxi to the Gatwick Express Train at Victoria Station. The cab driver seemed to think that we did not have enough time for the flight. Not a good sign. We got to Victoria Station and hopped onto the Express that was just about to leave. That zipped us up to Gatwick pretty quickly. We rushed into the airport thinking that we should be fine as we were there more than thirty minutes before our flight – more than the maximum time that had been suggested to us.

We rushed to where Aer Lingus should have been to check us in and there was no Aer Lingus. We got someone who worked at the airport to tell us that forty minutes or more before the flights that the tickets are considered void and that the airlines packed up and left! So apparently no one that we talked to has ever flown inside of the UK before because you need a minimum of an hour and a half to be able to safely get onto a local flight.

We panic booked a direct flight to Belfast with EasyJet. Instead of £40 we ended up having to spend £300!  Ouch.  That made for an expensive education in flying inside of the UK.  This trip has been expensive enough so far.  With the final exchange it was $614 for the second flight after having lost the money on the first one.  At least we didn’t then have to pay for the train trip from Dublin to Belfast although that would have been minor.

The upside was that we actually arrived in Belfast a little before we had planned on getting there even with the earlier flight.   We caught the bus that took forty-five minutes to go from Belfast International to the city itself.  The larger airport that we arrived at was quite a bit outside of the city proper but we did get a chance to look at the countryside as we headed into town.

We were pretty tired by the time that we got to the hotel.  We checked in and immediately headed over to Chambers next door for a quick lunch.  We ate and came back and napped for a while.  Today is Thanksgiving so officially it is a holiday for me although I spent about four hours today working as much as usual but just from my BlackBerry.

After our nap we walked downtown which took about twenty minutes and met up with about a dozen people from the office at a famous Belfast landmark pub called The Crown Bar.  We had a few drinks and then, once everyone was there, we walked just up the block to the Red Panda and had a nice Chinese dinner.  Then after dinner returned to the Crown for a few hours of craic.  It was a really good time and Dominica and I both enjoyed ourselves very much.

After the pub my friend who organized the get together gave us a ride to the hotel (my first ever ride in a Renault.)  We got back and were straight off to sleep.  We were totally exhausted.  Very busy day and no pictures today.

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