I had originally made reservations at a bed and breakfast in Newtownards which looked like beautiful country but was on the opposite side of Belfast. There was no way this side of death that I would drive through Belfast again! My second night in Bushmills, I checked out another bed and breakfast where I wouldn’t have to drive through Belfast and made reservations at Bannview in Portadown. Driving south from Bushmills, I drove by the Belfast International Airport where I would be flying home in just a few days. Portadown isn’t far south of the airport so I shouldn’t have too much trouble getting back to the airport.
Portadown is located south of Lough Neagh, the largest freshwater lake in the British Isles. It’s a beautiful lake and is surrounded by lots of places for tourists to stay and enjoy lakeside vacations. I made it to Portadown without any mishap but wasn’t sure how to get to Bannview. I stopped at a shopping mall and asked a lady there if she knew how to get to Bannview and she gave me directions that involved several roundabouts and ended with “turn right at the corner of [I thought she said Burn and Desire – which I thought were odd street names but we have some pretty odd street names in Kansas!]” After driving around for an hour and asking four people for directions, I located Bannview.
It turned out to be a hotel that catered to squash teams. It seems that squash is a bit like racquetball, but the racquets are a different shape. Here was this older, slightly better “cushioned” lady amid several young, athletic guys. They gave me a handicapped room on the ground floor! The dining room is on the fourth floor, so I huffed and puffed my way up the stairs while the squash players were leaping like gazelles. It was not good for my vanity!
I decided to spend my first day in Bannview walking around the area. I walked down the road and found the corner where the lady from the shopping mall told me to turn. There it was – a shop called Burning Desire! It’s a costume shop for adults! Across the street from the hotel was a Tesco store. This is like a super Walmart and has anything in it that a person could possibly want. Also, on the lot was a McDonalds. It was so much fun to meander around and watch the people and to join the line at a decidedly American fast food place like McDonalds.
I found an app on my iPod that gave road directions!! I could have really used that in Belfast or even on my way from Bushmills to Portadown! My second day in Portadown, I used the app to find Oxford Island.
Oxford Island is located on the south part of the lake and has a magnificent Visitor’s Center. You walk over a bridge to get to the Center and there were baby ducks swimming in the stream that surrounds the Center. They had drawings of the flora and fauna of the area that were elegant. They also had an old canoe that had been made from a log. It had been found while the lake was being dredged. There was a nice path from the Center that meandered around the edge of the lake and ended up back at the parking lot. It was a nice peaceful last day in Ireland! The next day I got up at 3:00 to start my journey home!
My trip back home was much calmer than my trip to Ireland. I was too tired to be scared so enjoyed the trip much more. I asked that I be given aisle seats on all the planes I was taking, and the airline lady was great to make that happen. The flight left at 11:00 and, since I got there so early, I had plenty of time to wander through the airport and get a book and some candy. On the plane, I ended up sitting with a couple of girls from Belfast who were going to visit Las Vegas.
We all settled down for a nice flight across the Atlantic Ocean to Newark. It was great – until we were flying over Iceland and I discovered that my adventure wasn’t quite over!