Thursday, July 26, 2012

Belfast, Northern Ireland

It's been a long time since I've been able to blog due to all the stops I've made and people I've met. Today is the first day I've been able to sit down by myself and relax so here is an update of what I've been doing. First stop, Belfast.

 I left Paris on July 12th and met my very good friend, Mary from Portaferry. We were great friends at university and our friendship has continued. It was lovely to spend time with her.

I also met up with my good friend, Natalie, from New Zealand.  It just so happened, she was in Belfast on the exact same day!  What a lovely coincidence.

Out for a meal.  We had a NZ wine :)

 July 12th is an interesting day to arrive in Belfast as it is 'Orange Man Day', the day that William of Orange won the battle of Boyne and took control of Ireland   In Northern Ireland, this day is celebrated by marching through the streets of Belfast playing songs and waving the British flag.
The flags are flying high.

 After the marching people stay on the streets and get very drunk, leaving an awful mess at the end of it. I was shocked at the state of the place - rubbish everywhere and it just felt weird, knowing I was in Ireland yet there are British flags everywhere and I am using Sterling. 

 Mary took me on a tour of 2 roads that are polar opposites - Falls road is Nationalist   (,_Belfast)  and Shakill road loyalist ( They are divided by a massive wall because during the troubles there was a lot of fighting. The wall is now called The Peace Wall and people have graffitied it. Visiors can sign it. We didn't have a pen handy so I didn't contribute.

We also went to the Titanic Museum that opened this year to commemorate the 100th year of the ships sinking.

I have ALWAYS been fascinated with the Titanic and felt a crazy connection to it. It's such an amazingly sad story!  A ship, built in Belfast by hundreds of men, sworn to be the most magnificent ship the world had ever seen and it SUNK.  It's shocking how we can be promised such a fabulous, happy story and then it all turns to custard.  Not only that, but you can totally see how people were treated so poorly, especially the working class who were left to perish.

My connection to the Titanic can be explained by the places I have been drawn to.  Places such as, Belfast, Southampton (where we lived in 2008) and Halifax (where Robert's family are living and also where the victims of the Titanic are buried).

Mary and I had a great time in Belfast and our next stop is in Strabane where we meet my 79 year old Grandmother; my last grandparent so it is important to stop off and see her.  She lives an hour and a half away from Mary who was kind enough to drive me there.  See you in Strabane.

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