Thursday, 8 March 2012

Northern Ireland–Belfast

The final part of our weekend break in Northern Ireland was in Belfast.  It's a city with a well known and violent history, especially in recent times and I was keen to learn more about it.  With  limited time in the city and on the recommendation of friends, we booked a black cab history tour.  Before that though,  we grabbed a coffee and had a gander about the city centre.   City Hall, views of and from the Victoria Quarter Shopping Mall glass viewing dome. 

Hello Belfast - you look lovely in the sunshine

The tour we had booked was a Black Cab history tour.  We met our guide, Paddy, outside City Hall and then spent the next 100 minutes driving around the Shankill and Falls areas of Belfast (Protestant and Catholic areas), hearing about the Troubles, what led to the Troubles and where things are now.  In these two distinct areas, there are many many murals depicting the victims and occasions and their pride in their side. 

The first 4 (l-r) are Catholic whilst the remaining 8 are protestant.  Click through to Flickr for larger pics

Did you know there is a Belfast Peace Wall?  Many of them actually, with the longest over 1 mile long.  They separate the Catholic and Protestant areas the city over, with gates that are open during the day but to this day are closed at sundown.  I had heard of the wall before the trip but had no idea the city was still this divided. 
 A small stretch of the peace lines along Cupar Way

After our tour, we had some lunch and a wee beverage at Crown Bar, a completely over the top ornate pub filled with private snugs from which to eat and drink.  Leave the door open when you want service, keep it shut when all is good.  Cute, a little kitsch but well worth a visit.

Sadly soon after, our trip was over and we were headed back to the airport for a nice bumpy flight back to London. Belfast was a fascinating city, one who’s Troubles I still just can’t fathom.

A weekend away I hadn't really planned but that I'm really grateful for.

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