|The view of a Belfast street.|
|Q-Con in action.|
Beyond having a rough direction to walk, the rest would be up to serendipity.
And serendipity delivered in a kind of Alice in Wonderland way where everything seemed to get curiouser and curiouser.
First, as we passed through the center of Queens University, we started noticing people in colorful wigs and costumes. It turns out, this was Q-Con, Queens University's answer to Comic-Con. It offered a weekend's worth of anime screenings, social activities (such as Pints Against Humanity) and a concert by the Irish Video Game Orchestra.
When we arrived at St. George's market after a 25-minute walk, most of us were hungry enough to test out the crepes, pastries and coffee for sale.
|(From left) Peter Murphy, Jason Spann, Mary Hays, Derek Stine and I take in the market while a musician (playing a mix of traditional Irish music and James Taylor songs) entertains the crowd.|
|Not sure what the puffy rock thingy is.|
We split up from there as Mary and Peter decided to walk back to the Botanic Gardens near the university. Jason, Derek and I walked back into town where crowds already assembled for a parade that started at noon.
"We'll just wait around and check it out," we collectively decided.
Once the parade got going, it was an endless stream of regiments and divisions from Ulster that fought as part of the British Army in World War I, as well as other Protestant loyalist groups.
|This went on for 20-30 minutes.|
"The drumming was terrible," he said flatly.
Some drummers in the same group were using opposite hands, which he said made it look discombobulated. He pointed it out to me. I couldn't tell.
Others carried – or drove – with big guns. The forces from Ulster got hit hard in World War I, particularly the Battle of the Somme in France, which was supposed to be a major offensive campaign for the Brits and the French. But it quickly turned costly for the Brits after the French diverted many of their men to reinforce Verdun.
"Everything went wrong that day," as one soldier from the 36th (Ulster) Division put it.
|This World War I era soldier surveys modern day Belfast before the parade begins.|
After the parade, the randomness of the day only increased.
|How does a seagull fix dinner? She dives for a mussel, carries it to a stone walkway and drops it from about 20 feet in the air to break it open. Then she dines.|
|A leprechaun with a "Frozen" backpack? What's going on here? We would soon find out.|
|Yes, she is waterskiing around the docks of Belfast with a pulley system.|
|The circle at the bottom is where our dorm was. The Titanic Museum with the screen for the soccer match is at the top right of the map.|