An American Polio Survivor’s Travel Log (Part 2)

One of our US based members visited Ireland last summer and kindly wrote a travel log of his experiences – this will later appear in The Survivor magazine. Thank you to John & Sue Britt.

Part 2

We enjoyed many short conversations with our host family in Buncrana, and had many unanswered questions concerning “Brexit”! Will the border with Northern Ireland remain open? What will change?  So, we decided this was our chance to go to Northern Ireland, before “Brexit” could complicate travel. Our first stop, of course, was the city with a complicated name – Derry, Londonderry, or “The Walled City”.

We walked across the Peace Bridge, and stood in awe of the Guildhall with its modern square, where a splash pad might catch pedestrians with a sudden gush of water! The city was beautiful, but we encountered steep hills in the High Street shopping area. My scooter certainly deserved a recharge after that day’s visit!

We continued our vacation in Northern Ireland and drove on to Belfast. Our GPS took us straight to our building, but our door code did not work for us to enter. There was no host to meet us. We happened to notice a woman sitting out in front of the building, and asked her to call a contact number for us, since our smart phone was not smart enough to make calls when traveling abroad. After a stressful hour, we figured out which unlocked and unoccupied apartment was reserved for us. We lugged all our suitcases up three flights of stairs, since we had to park our car on the streets, and couldn’t leave things in plain sight. (No access to the underground parking spaces). The apartment was adequate, but no one ever mentioned the flight pattern from the nearby airport went directly overhead.  The first jet to come over was fully occupied with passengers. I waved to them! They waved back!

Aside from a disappointing airbnb, we really enjoyed the sights and attractions of Belfast. It is a beautiful city, with beautiful and enormous shopping malls (Victoria Mall), a large indoor market (St. George’s Market), and of course, the Titanic Quarter. We walked everywhere!

The visit to the Titanic Museum was totally accommodating for riding a scooter. There were elevators (lifts) on every floor, but they were sometimes difficult to locate in the crowds. However, it was quite ironic that I could not prove that I was handicapped at the ticket office!  Using a scooter and carrying my crutches in my arms was not sufficient evidence. They required something in writing, so be forewarned if you are planning a visit. I had to pay admission, but my wife was free, as my aide! Who can understand? We found the museum to be interesting, and sad. We spent almost all day in and around the museum.

The SS Nomadic was dry-docked at the Titanic Quarter, and accessible for riding a scooter.  However there were stairs to the upper decks that were not accessible. Again, my wife took lots of pictures to share what I couldn’t see for myself.

The gigantic H&W cranes at the shipyard were visible from almost any place in the city of Belfast. Belfast was well worth a visit, and unforgettable!

Time came to start packing our souvenirs, and look for packing materials. I try to be resourceful, but my wife sometimes thinks I go a bit overboard. But free stuff is good stuff!

We drove to Dublin, gave away our car, and started dreaming of our relaxing easy chair at home! McDonald’s is truly around every corner of the world, and in every airport!  It’s a cheap meal when you are counting your pennies!

Every seat was filled for the 6-hour flight back to Washington, DC! Our granddaughter was thrilled to see us, and model her new dress from Debenhams! We were thrilled to see her too! (And she has a little sister on the way!)