A Travellerspoint blog

Northern Ireland

A Sunny Day in Belfast

We woke to skies that are clear and sunny. That was a pleasant surprise, as we understood that Northern Ireland has two seasons - winter, and June.
We had a great breakfast at a funky restaurant called Harlem. Then we headed off to but tickets for the Belfast Hop On Hop Off bus. We often ride these buses to get an overview of the principal sights in a city. We began with a tour of the old dock area, where the Titanic was built and launched. This area is now home to a multimillion pound Titanic Visitor Centre, as well as the film studios where Game of Thrones is produced.
Our tour wound through parts of the city centre, then past Queen’s University Belfast. We learned that the residents of Belfast are proud of the tremendous advances their city has enjoyed since the end of “The Troubles” the 30-year period of sectarian violence that tore the city apart. Indeed, there is new construction ongoing everywhere. Our tour guide told us that the Northern Irish love the tourists (tourism is now the number one industry here), they just hate each other.
We then travelled through the parts of the city where the worst of the violence occurred. These areas are clearly designated by the presence of either British flags (the chiefly-Protestant Unionist communities), or the Irish tri-color flag (predominantly catholic Republican). Also shockingly evident, and provocative, are the many wall murals extolling one or the other side in the battle. We saw one hotel that had been bombed 38 times during the strife. We travelled the 5 km length of one of the so-called “peace walls”, 25 feet tall, that still separate Unionist and Republican neighbourhoods. We learned that there are gates in these walls that are still closed at night to prevent further trouble.
We certainly formed the impression that Northern Ireland has made tremendous advances in peace and development since the Good Friday Peace Agreement of 1998. However, we also sensed that that fragile peace could easily be disrupted, especially by the naive foolishness of Brexit.
We got off the bus for a visit to the St. George’s Market, and a light lunch. Later, we “hopped” back on the bus, to see the Northern Ireland Parliament Buildings (Stormont), and some of the more affluent neighbourhoods of Belfast.
In the evening we had a nice vegetarian Asian meal.

Peace Wall
In front of City Hall
Wall murals
Celtic Cross on Church
Peace Wall with thousands of signatures and messages
Spring Blossoms
Yummy dinner!
Wall Mural
Irish Flag on home
Parliament Building
Wall Mural

Posted by Jimpat 15:16

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