The ferry to Belfast was uneventful, and Belfast itself is a beautiful, scarred city, caught between decades of violence and flickering hope for the future.
The “troubles” are recent enough that virtually everyone there lived through them, yet quiet enough now that there is a brisk business in taking tourists on the famous “Black Cab Tours.” Throughout the area you find houses with huge murals painted on, memorializing the fighters (and at times those caught in the cross-fire) as if the old wounds are only barely closed.
The Belfast UG was terrific, very enthusiastic and very happy to have the presentation.
From there I crossed drove to Cork (5 hours) as the internal flights were not yet dependable. A terrific drive, which I broke up by driving through some smaller towns. It is true, the more south you go, the thicker the stout gets. Cork is the home of Murphy’s Stout, Dublin the home of Guinness. It is better here, there is just no doubt.
The Cork UG was wonderful, they see themselves as a bit out of the way and so are very pleased to have folks from Microsoft come – and they show their pleasure openly and kindly. The next day was my one opportunity to see the beautiful west coast of Ireland, but it was a drizzly day and my body insisted on sleeping late, so I settled for a surprisingly pleasant walk in Dublin.
My only regret in this trip is that due to the problems with flying I was unable to talk with the Dublin UG; to make up for which I hope to be back soon!
All in all it was a terrific opportunity to talk with hundreds of working Silverlight Programmers throughout the UK & Ireland, and a trip I won’t soon forget.
Two weeks, four countries, 9 presentations, two flights, one ferry and 1,650 miles driven. Brilliant.