Crazy Days in Northern Ireland
Trip Start Apr 20, 2009
30Trip End Jul 20, 2009
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Where I stayed
Whitney and Brennon's Apartment
I had seen them setting up one of the bonfire towers on my way to Whitney and Brennon's place last night and after dinner, Whitney and I saw the smoke from about three of the fires from her roof. Brennon had gone to do some work and said that he wouldn't have felt safe if we were to have gone out into town, so we stayed local and it was fairly quiet. You could smell smoke all over the place though and hear plenty of shouts and such throughout the night.
This morning, I made my way through streets of broken glass to catch my tour bus up the coast - a good day to get out of town really
We went up the coast to Carrik-a-rede bridge, a rope bridge spanning over the ocean from a cliff to an island just a bit offshore. I couldn't believe how clear and beautiful the water was! Absolutely stunning! And though I know why, I still can't believe just how green this island really is. Oddly enough, I felt quite spoiled by all the nice weather I have had here and in England and Scotland the past two weeks, to be honest. It's like I feel like I have somehow cheated and not gotten the real experience since it hasn't been raining the entire time. But I am not opposed to the sunshine - not one bit!
After that, we continued up to the Giant's Causeway - volcanic balast columns jutting out of the sea on the Northern coastline. They were so much more impressive and expansive than I expected them to be. Some were super tall and others were just like stepping stones, but all perfectly hexigonal-shaped columns, like someone had been building little towers and then just decided to stop on some of them and leave the different levels. Again, the water was so beautiful - the color was just this amazing aquamarine... Nothing like the oceans in the States that I'm used to! (Not even like the ocean in Hawaii, which is beautiful too...)
Then we headed to Londonderry (so-called by the Loyalists; Derry as it is known by the resident Catholics), the only walled city remaining on the island of Ireland
Either way, it was particularly poingent today, due to the fact that the small Loyalist community was out in force and I watched as some of the young boys ran along the street pelting the police cars with bottles, rocks, and petrol bombs. Definately made for a unique experience!
Back in Belfast, the bus driver let us off at the main bus station instead of the usual, more local drop-off points. So that meant about a 20 minute walk for me to get back, but I ended up running into the march route. Surrounded by a mass drunk horde and now sure how to get across, I just decided to stand along the sidelines and watch for a bit. The bands that marched by were so intense, I thought the drummers arms were going to fly off! Young boys and girls twirling battons and jumping about with flags and banners, all the way up to old men hobbling down the road - canes in one hand and an umbrella in the other, as by now the nice weather had faded and there were occasional showers
Once I had gotten back home, Whitney and I looked up some of the news online and apparently there had been some unrest and skirmishes between the Catholics and the police forces, perhaps with the Loyalists as well, but the news wasn't too clear. There were some shots fired and some injuries in the small riots, but as far as we could tell there hadn't been any fatalities. It's not nearly as volitile as it was in years past, but it is still unsettling and one can only hope that peace will made it's way.