Day 8 - Belfast

Trip Start Sep 09, 2012
Trip End Nov 24, 2012

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Flag of United Kingdom  , N Ireland,
Tuesday, September 18, 2012

We were collected in the morning and took a tour of Belfast with our guide Gordon. An eye opener to the " troubles" and emotional and physical scars that remain with the northern Irish. Belfast and much of Northern Ireland whilst in a time of Peace still maintains a divided place between Protestant and Catholic. This division and hostility has been around for hundreds of years and has seen periods of riots, murders, bombs and terror with 'peace' only ending just over a decade ago. Whilst there is an overall peace, there remain extremist factions who continue their agenda.

Day to day life continues to involve segregation with distinct Protestant and Catholic areas (although the city centre is neutral territory). They still only drink in their own pubs, go to their own schools, socialize with their own, their buses only go to their own areas and they only barrack for their own football teams. All claimed in the name of religion but no one goes to church either! Our driver said up until 11 years ago everywhere they went they were met with armed soldiers and they were regularly searched. Everyone has in some way been affected by the violence of the past. Gordon said that 10 years ago he would have thought you were mad if you said he would be driving tourists around Belfast. There also remains a wall in Belfast that segregates the Protestant area from the Catholic area. There are a number of gates that you can gain access between the areas but these are locked around 6-630pm and whilst you can still get from one side to the other you have to go the LONG way around.

At one stage on our tour, mum saw an Irish dancing costume shop and made a beeline for it. As Chloe adores Irish dancing, gran had promised her a Dum Dum dress. To gran's horror the one she liked was 800 dollars so she settled on a second hand one!

We then visited the Titanic museum, which only opened 6 months ago. The Titanic was built in Belfast. It was quite interesting and well done, with some artifacts and costumes from the movie too.

We then visited the Belfast Town council building, bombed and destroyed in World War II but rebuilt exactly the same. It was a beautiful building both inside and out. And was recently renovated and repainted.

We then went for a wander around Belfast, stopping via Victoria Square, St Anne’s and the Albert Memorial Clock. At one point I almost walked into Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones fans will know him as the legendary Tywin Lannister). He was with his wife and child though so I didn’t approach. We had a meal at the oldest pub in Belfast, The Crown. It was yummy! Then we headed back to Maranatha for a good rest!
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