Friday, June 25–Derry, Northern Ireland

Laundry?; Citysightseeing hop on, hop off bus tour; Guildhall; pubs & Peadar O'Donnell's; Peace Bridge; Tower Museum; Londonderry city library; lunch & Boots at the Foyleside shopping centre; Argos at the Richmond shopping mall; Café Nero; where to have dinner and a pint; Wetherspoon's the Diamond

Maldron Hotel

Black VW Passat sedan

Slideshow

11/1/2016

I didn't get to bed until about 2 AM last night but fell asleep within a half an hour. I did wake up early enough to take a shower, get dressed, have the included breakfast here in the hotel after dropping my laundry off at the reception desk just before 8. I also bought a ticket for Citysightseeing Londonderry's hop on, hop off bus tour. The first one wasn't leaving until after 10 AM so I came up to my room for a bit before walking to the stop which is around the corner and down the hill from my hotel, down at the lovely Guildhall which seems to be the local government's office.

Last night I was able to connect to the wifi on my laptop, Kindle Fire, and Irish smart phone but this morning I noticed that I could no longer get connected on the laptop and the Irish Android smart phone was the only device of the three that automatically reconnected and didn't ask me to log in again.

Wandering around the area while waiting for the bus I found a couple of what looked like very nice pubs, including Peadar O'Donnell's which is famous around the world for its live music.

The folks at the tour bus stop didn't have any brochures with the tour route, stops, and points of interest like all the other tours I've taken from Saint Augustine to Armagh to London and Paris. That is perhaps not all that surprising since there are actually only seven stops along a route that takes about an hour all around. As soon as the Guildhall opened at 10 AM, which was about five minutes before the tour bus came, the young woman went in and stocked up on the very well done local tour map and gave me one.

The route goes past and to many interesting and scenic locations both within the city walls and in the surrounding area, and the prerecorded commentary was quite good. I was able to take lots of good pictures with my new camera through the windows up on the top desk of the bus (I think and hope). I decided not to go back to any of the six other places the tour stopped at, but to get off back at the Guildhall and wander around the immediate area and later just wander around within the city walls.

After the tour I walked across the very pretty Peace Bridge and walked up the river a bit. I had thought about going all the way over to the church I could see in the distance (St Columb's Roman Catholic) but decided it was further than I really wanted to go, so I went back across the Bridge and checked out several of the lovely buildings and museums in the immediate area, including the Guildhall which is as lovely inside as it is outside and had an interesting and well done exhibit as well, inside the walls and around the corner to the Tower Museum (the parts above ground are kind of small, since it's not a big tower but is five stories tall with open roof acess on the top and an exhibit about the ships from the Spanish Armada that were wrecked in the area, and a huge exhibition area in the basement about the history of the city and area), and down the street to the local branch of the library. I was saddened but not surprised to see that the local library system is having the same kinds of funding problems most public library systems I know about are, with another small reduction in open hours coming up.

When I bought my Irish smart phone in Drogheda I had also bought two USB flash drives, one for my documents and html files. I used them that night, and thought I had put them in a bag with all my other electronic stuff like my various cables and chargers but I couldn't find them when I unpacked last night. One of my goals while wandering around was to find somewhere to replace them, which turned out to be harder to do than I had thought. Back home, I can find and buy USB drives almost anywhere including my local grocery store and in both my local drug store chains as well as office supply stores.

For such a small area within the city walls, Derry has at least two very nice and surprisingly large shopping centers. When I asked at reception last night about where to eat other than the hotel's own restaurant I was told to check out the food court at one of the malls, the Foyleside shopping center, so that's where I went for lunch, stopping in at every cell phone store (and there were about five of them) to see if they had any USB drives, and none did. I had a nice seafood noodle dish and fried wontons for lunch at the large and very well done and nicely laid out food court which also had a great view of the river and surrounding area. I had noticed that one of the signs in the mall said that Jessups, the same store where I had bought a camera back in London last August, was up on the top floor. I couldn't find it and asked a passing mall employee about it, and the store had closed two years ago. He did, however, suggest checking the Argos somewhere in the Richmond shopping mall, which turned out to be around the corner from my hotel. I picked up some more Slimfasts at the branch of Boots in the Foyleside.

I eventually found the Argos on the bottom floor of the Richmond mall which turned out to be very close around a corner from my hotel. Finding USB drives was harder than I was used to, since remember at Argos you look things up in a print or online catalog, check to see if they're in stock at the store, and place your order. I had found and ordered two, one larger to back up the pictures I have and will be taking, and a smaller one to back up my documents & html files. As I went further back into the store, to the order pick up counter, I noticed another counter with a display of USB drives.

I also stopped for an iced coffee and a pastry for later at a Caffe Nero in one of the malls.

I came back to my room for a couple of hours before going out to find somewhere for dinner. As I came back in, the woman at reception told me that due to their van having broken down, the laundry hadn't been picked up (I still have more than enough clean clothes to last until the next time I'm anywhere for more than a single night and I'll just put the hotel's laundry bag in the trunk of the car so I can put my newer dirty clothes into my own laundry bag). Later I took my laptop and Kindle Fire down to the reception desk to see if anyone could help me get connected to the wifi again, and the clerk I've seen there most often was able to get my Kindle connected again but not my laptop. Since that's much easier to use than any of my other devices, since it has a bigger screen and a real keyboard, I used my Irish Android smart phone to chat online with someone at Microsoft to see if we could get my laptop online again. I had originally asked online for someone from Microsoft to call my iPhone but when no one called, I settled for chatting live with someone using my Irish phone. This was a real pain because I'm not as good texting as I am at typing. I found out later that I had somehow switched my iPhone to "do not disturb" mode so I didn't notice when someone from Microsoft had called. I spent about an hour with the tech rep, using the hotel's wifi but never got the laptop connected again.

Around about 8 I went back out to check out Peadar O'Donnell's and find somewhere to eat. I of course went around the wrong corner at the bottom of the hill. I had left my Irish Android phone charging back in my room but had my iPhone instead because I thought I might want to read some more of the book I'm reading on my Kindle, so I used it very briefly to check Google Maps and find the place.

There was indeed a musician playing when I got there, but the place was standing room only and I still needed to have something for dinner. I went to a small, mostly takeout place across the way and had a donor kebab box which was pretty tasty but the sauce on the fries was just a little too spicy for me and the meat seemed to be scraps and small pieces. I went back over to Peadar O'Donnell's for a few minutes and also checked out the pub next door but didn't stay. I still had to climb back up the hill to the hotel's neighborhood and decided to wait and have a pint when I got there, especially if I could find somewhere to sit and also have something to eat. I figured if all else failed I could do both at the hotel's bar where I was last night.

Right across the main center square from the hotel is a local branch of the Wetherspoon pub chain (the Diamond), which I'd never been in either on this trip or when I was here ten years ago. It's a fairly large and nicely done spot, and since I was able to find a normal-height booth (as opposed to the tall bar stools and tables I often find uncomfortable, since they're usually higher than the stools and counter I have at home) I ordered the ham & cheese toastie with a pint of Magner's cider.

Last evening while I walked the city walls and today while I was wandering around I noticed how many kids there were out and about hanging out. I guess there's not that much for them to do evenings and weekends and when school's out.

It's now just after 11. I hope to go to sleep earlier than I did last night. I still want to figure out where to go between here and my hotel in Donegal city tomorrow night. This will be a bit of a nuisance since I'll have to use three different devices instead of switching windows and programs on my laptop. I used the nice tub in my bathroom to soak all my insulin cooling things and they're drying out now. I might repack all the syringes before I go to bed or let the packages dry over night. And I still have the piece of raisin carrot cake I bought at the coffee shop, too.


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