Less than two weeks after our weekend trip to Dublin with my family, I found myself back over on the island of Ireland to visit the north. I had the opportunity to visit Belfast in Northern Ireland for work, and my manager conveniently backed on the trip to a weekend so we could all stay on to explore the region. Of course I jumped at this opportunity, and Chris managed to organise some flights and join me for the weekend as well.
The trip started off well, with me waking up in the hotel work had booked be to the below view!
I managed to get a quick walk in before the work day ahead, to see exciting sights such as… the salmon of knowledge! Actually, it was more of a hobble than a walk, as I unfortunately broke my toe the weekend before and shoes were proving difficult to wear.
In the evening the sun stayed out, and a colleague and I set out to wander around the Cathedral Quarter, which felt like a slightly smaller version of Temple Bar in Dublin. The area was also filled with some amazing street art.
After dinner we returned to our hotel, which turned out to have a top floor bar with spectacular views of the city! The overpriced drink was worth it for the amazing sunset.
The next day was another whirlwind of work (and sadly rain), before Chris arrived in the evening and we check in to our Airbnb for good night of sleep. We woke up to more rain, but not to be deterred we made our way in to the city and checked out the local indoor market.
Admittedly before coming to Belfast neither of us knew very much (if anything) about the history of Northern Ireland and the UK. Seeing as the rain had set in, my foot was sore, and we were interested in learning more about the region, we booked a tour with a local black cab company. We were incredibly lucky and called just in time time get a tour guide, and within 10 minutes we were off in a cab with the most honest and frank tour guide I had ever had!
The tour was quite intense and I lot to take in. We drove to West Belfast, where we could see the two neighbourhoods and the ‘peace wall’ separating them. You can see the wall behind the below hour – a massive, touring wire fence.
I honestly had no idea about the walls, let alone that they were still standing and in use. The above gate was closed between the two neighbourhood as it was the weekend – and it also closed every night.
On the Irish Catholic side of the wall, it was adorned with street art in solidarity of other communities, alongside other political statements.
On the Unionist side, the wall art focused around militant heroes, and flags for the UK and Northern Ireland were everywhere.
The tour flew by, leaving Chris and I feeling quite overwhelmed with the information we had taken in, and the knowledge that this segregation still exists in the 21st Century.
To lift the mood, we had a delicious lunch back at the indoor market, and drove over to the botanic gardens to visit the most beautiful greenhouse.
On our way out of Belfast, we drove past the famous Titanic Museum. Neither of us had any interest in seeing it (admittedly I have never ever seen the movie!) but I was keen to see the building.
I also snapped only one crappy photo from the moving car of on the iconic cranes from the shipyard – the huge yellow cranes dominate the skyline in Belfast, and are aptly names Samson and Goliath. Sadly the shipyard has just gone into the administration, so I wonder what will happen to these landmarks.
From Belfast we set off to do a quick roadtrip around the green countryside and coastline of Northern Ireland!