Hamster dance in Nantes, France. Shamrockin’ around Ireland.

It’s been a pretty hectic few weeks since that last post about Paris. I’m writing this while on the bus from Vienna to Budapest, but I’ll get to that later.

Dave left us in Paris to head for the USA where he is planning to live for a bit, and Damien, Anna and I made our way further west to Nantes. I wasn’t exactly sure how or why Damien decided on Nantes when he booked the trip, but upon arriving to our accommodation the choice became obvious; It’s a freakin Hamster Villa!

So yeh, the entire apartment was modelled on a hamster cage, complete with running wheel, a loft bed (with a caged ladder), a drinking tub/fountain, and I’ll be damned if it didn’t also include hamster mask-hat things and tails too! Nice choice Dampo.

Nantes itself was a little scant on things to do, the two main attractions being the castle and a robotics/mechanical museum.

The museum was pretty gnarly, they have a larger-than-life mechanical elephant that you can take rides IN, and they also have grand plans to build some crazy ‘underwater world’ type carousel with fish and other sea creatures that you can take rides in! Some of the completed sea creatures are already on display.

After a couple days  in Nantes we skipped over Britain to shamrock and roll our way through Ireland (I can’t believe I just typed that). Dublin was grey and wet when we arrived so the first and obvious port of call was the pub. Of course, Guinness had to be the drink of choice and if you were wondering what I would look like with a mustache, well here you go.

Along the main street in Dublin is a spire, apparently the tallest structure in the city, a monument to the millenium… built 3 years after it occured. Not so impressive really.

Day 2 of Ireland was a bit of 4-seasons-in-one-day as we drove from Dublin, up to Belfast in Northern Ireland and further up to the Giant’s Causeway. One of the funniest parts of the day was when, driving along the highway, the speed suddenly went down to 60 (from 120 or so). Cars kept flying by us as Damien didn’t really want to be collecting fines while on holiday and fair enough really. It was probably only after about half an hour that we realised we had crossed the border into Northern Ireland and thanks to Britain’s insistence of perpetuating the grossly outdated imperial system, the signs had all suddenly changed to MPH. Weird, but there seemed to be no obvious point at which you crossed over.

Belfast was pretty cool, it seemed to be all about the shopping with a pretty big shopping district. Unfortunately we didn’t have a huge amount of time to really explore the place as we had to head further north, but what we saw was nice.

The drive had some great scenery despite some pretty sub par weather.

We finally made it to the Giant’s Causeway, some pretty sweet geological formations of 5+ sided columns that formed thousands of years ago when a then-active volcano spewed lava into the sea which cooled it down rapidly and caused the resulting formations. Some batshit crazy Irish legend has it that it was the steps from which some giant would use to cross over to Scotland to fight one of their mythical giants. A little too much moonshine for them Irish, I think…

On the way back we drove through Bushmills and saw a bunch of geese just chilling out the front of a shop for no reason. No park, no lake, no anything nearby except houses, so who knows what the hell they were doing or getting up to, but I bet they were organising something pretty badass.

And there you go. That’s pretty much it for the Asia+Europe trip with my buddy Damien.

Written on July 10, 2011