Tuesday, June 21–Armagh, UK

Laundry; St Patrick's Roman Catholic Cathedral; lunch at the Seven Hills; visitors centre at St Patrick's Trian; Armagh Public Library; St Patrick's Church of Ireland; No 5 Vicar's Hill; Palace Demesne park; dinner at the Moody Boar

Armagh City Hotel

Black VW Passat sedan



I slept pretty well last night, I think falling asleep before 11 and although I did wake up a couple of times I was able to fall asleep again until about 6:30 this morning. Because I didn't need to be up so early, I stayed in bed reading until around 8 when I showered, dressed, and took my laundry to the reception desk on the way to my included breakfast in the hotel's very nice restaurant.

Let me add one more criteria to my list of what a great shower should have–because I have bad knees and often crappy balance, it shouldn't be too high or difficult to get in and out of. The shower here is quite roomy, with lots of places to put things, and plenty of hot water and water pressure once I figured out the shower's controls but the tub is a little too high for me.

It was still quite early when I got back here to my room after breakfast, around 9, so I stretched out to read for a bit. I've been working on catching up on this journal since then.

Before I leave for the afternoon (and it's now almost noon), I want to figure out where I want to go here in town and how to get there and from place to place. I think I might take a taxi up to one of the cathedrals on the hills I can see from here, and make my way down from one place to another looking for somewhere nice for lunch.

I also need to take a look at the official manual for my new camera to see how to attach the lens and get it all correctly set up so I can use it; I charged the camera's battery last night. I might drive on over to Monaghan to find somewhere for dinner and to listen to some music. Oddly enough, having dinner in the hotel's bar/lounge last night is the closest I've come to going to a pub yet.

I didn't make it to the Planetarium or the Observatory, or drive over to Monaghan, today. I had spent enough time working on this journal and figuring out how to set up use my new camera, using Nikon's official manual as well as the one from a fan site I also downloaded yesterday–which is almost as good as Nikon's–that it was after noon when I started.

On the whole, I'm rather pleased with my new Nikon. About the only thing I don't like is that since lenses are interchangeable, the focus/telephoto isn't automatic as it was on the Canon which stopped working yesterday but you have to do it manually which requires two hands, one to hold the camera and the other to adjust the focus. On the other hand the view through the viewfinder is as sharp and clear as it is on the digital display, unlike with either Canon, the one I had to replace originally or the newer replacement I now have to replace–for some reason, I was no longer able to see through the viewfinder clearly on either camera although the pictures and the digital view were still in focus. When I have more time, though, I want to figure out how to turn the shutter click sound on my new Nikon off–the original setting is annoyingly loud. (Much later note--although it still takes two hands to use, I eventually figured out how to set the lens to automatically focus when I press the shutter button.)

I had a cab come and drop me off up at St Patrick's Roman Catholic cathedral, which I liked very much and has lovely grounds and a great view from atop the hill. Everybody keeps telling me that Armagh, like Edinburgh and Rome itself, was built on seven hills. Right below the RC cathedral is a small café called Seven Hills where I stopped for a very nice toasted sandwich for lunch.

From the Seven Hills café I worked my way over to the Church of Ireland St Patrick's Cathedral, stopping in at various places along the way as I semi-accidentally came to them–not in any particular order they were: the visitors centre at St Patrick's Trian; Armagh Public Library, which is the oldest library in Armagh and is actually a small research and reference library specializing in 18th & 19th century materials about Armagh, both the city and county and houses the original manuscript of Gulliver' Travels among other items, and where my guide for a brief tour was also named Stephen; No 5 Vicar's Hill, right next to the C of I cathedral, which was originally the official registry office for Armagh; and a lovely park, which I think might have been the Mall from what I can tell on the tourist map of the city I have with me, which I walked along on my way over towards the Planetarium and Observatory.

I really liked the C of I cathedral very much as well, and rather startled the guy on duty in the office there when I told him to keep the change from a 5 GBP for my 3.50 GBP entry fee as a donation.

While I was walking along the Mall towards the turnoff back uphill for the Planetarium and Observatory, Google Maps told me the Planetarium would be closing within an hour so I decided to just head back to my hotel which wasn't far or complicated to get back to. In fact I was soon in an area I remembered was pretty near the hotel, down the road and around a few corners. At that corner are a bakery, where I didn't find any small pastries to take and have this evening, a branch of Boots where I bought a new electric toothbrush, the batteries to go with it, and some facial wash which I was about to run out of, and a coffee shop where I had a pastry and cup of coffee and bought another pastry which I'll have here in a few minutes.

When I had been looking at the maps for the area here in Armagh I had seen that the Armagh City Hotel is basically adjacent to this large park which at one time had been the grounds of a palace, the Palace Demesne and Public Park, and within the park about 15 minutes from the hotel is a restaurant/bistro called the Moody Boar and I liked the menu they had listed online, so I decided to skip using the treadmill here in the hotel since I had already walked quite a bit today and was going to add another half an hour's walking over and back for dinner.

What I saw of the park on the way over and back was very nice and looked huge. In the corner of the park closest to the hotel are the grounds for the City of Armagh Rugby Club; I decided to not follow the road along the park over to the restaurant but to walk through the park, and followed the path through the ruins of the old friary and past the old Palace Lodge and cut across the slope to where I hoped the restaurant was, and it was. I wasn't sure they were open when I got there because I didn't see anyone inside and a couple of the doors I had tried seemed to be locked although their menu posted online and outside says they're open on Tuesday. I was sitting on a bench deciding if I'd just go back and have dinner here in the hotel when a security guard came past. He confirmed that they were indeed open, and suggested I try one of the automatic doors instead, which I did and they were open so I went in and had a very nice seafood soup, salmon, dessert, and a beer. I walked back to the hotel along the road instead of going through the park.

When I got back to the hotel, my laundry was waiting for me at the reception desk.

It's now 10:30 PM, and I looked outside and it's getting dark just now on the longest day of the year.

I'm probably not going to go back to the Observatory–which is closed to the public anyway but I was going to take pictures of the outside–and the Planetarium tomorrow before I leave for Belfast. The Planetarium does open at 10 AM but their first show isn't until 2 PM, and that's at least half the reason to go.

Instead I think I'll head on over to the Navan Centre and Fort which is just outside of town. There are several routes between there and Belfast, but I think I'll go by way of the town and sacred site of Downpatrick, stopping by the town of Portadown where the parents of my favorite harper from the Florida Renaissance Festival are from just long enough to at least take a picture of the sign for the city. It's about 20 minutes from Navan Centre to Portadown, an hour from Portadown to Downpatrick where I think I'll have lunch and spend some time checking it out, and 40 minutes from Downpatrick to Belfast.

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