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    • Day 20


      May 17 in Northern Ireland ⋅ ☁️ 19 °C

      “There’s only seven types of rain in Belfast. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday…..”– From a Belfast street sign.
      Sunday 12 May. Not far to drive today. Tony looked at possible stops of interest between Donegal and Belfast. Enniskillen and Portadown. 2hr 38 min 204km for the total trip. Should easily be able to drop off the car by 3pm. Enniskillen has a castle, and The Street Kitchen for breakfast. The town is actually situated on a small island separating Upper and Lower Lough Erne. After breakfast we found the waterfront with a few motorboats moored and lots of green space. Not far away is Enniskillen Castle, around which we walked. Continuing on our journey we did a quick sweep through Clogher then stopped in Portadown. Breakfast had been so late and big we didn’t need lunch. Looked at the centre of town and the river. Our thoughts? “Why bother.”
      On the way to George Best City Airport we topped up the petrol. Seamless return of the car. Then a taxi to our accommodation. A house just off the city centre. Small but with interesting stairs and small rooms. Nicely fitted out if a bit tired. Lots of power points, most with USB chargers in the middle. Most of these, incredibly, seemed to suck in instead of giving out power. Hadn’t seen the like before. No bottle of champagne nor milk in the fridge. We looked up the route to convenience stores. Needn’t have bothered. Immediately outside the front door 2 neighbours were chatting. They made sure we had locked the door properly then directed us to the shops. Yet another example of the friendliness of the Northern Irish. It keeps happening.
      After shopping, afternoon tea and brief afternoon rest we nipped into town for drinks and dinner. Ursula had found the Garrick online. Lovely pub. Nice meal. Irish music happening in a corner of the bar.
      We caught the G2 bus to Titanic Belfast a spectacular tribute to RMS Titanic which opened in 2012. It a very avant guard building at the top of the slipway which launched Titanic. We took about 3 hours to try to absorb the information starting with Belfast’s industrial beginnings through the design and building of the Titanic and culminating with the fateful voyage. A highlight was a little train-like journey through the vast interior of the Titanic while she was under construction. Noise was indescribable. No Health and Safety. Tony was very interested in 2 guys hammering in a red-hot rivet. Rapid tattoo of heavy hammer blows – one left and one right handed. Hard work. Many became stone deaf. Took a while. There were 3 million rivets used. We hadn’t realised that as many as 67% of the over 2200 people on board were lost in the sinking. Survival rate for 3rd class passengers was abysmal compared to 1st class. As for men compared to women. Gender equality didn’t exist.
      We had a long wander along the Maritime Mile and through the town, not forgetting to take in The Big Fish. Very late lunch in a café.
      Our final full day in Belfast featured a black cab tour of the Belfast Peace Walls and murals with an explanation of The Troubles. Amazingly (to us) the gates in some areas are still locked every night at varying times according to the location. Typical times are locked at 1900 and opened at 0630. The Walls were built by the British in 1969 to keep apart the Catholics and Protestants. Mostly they worked, but there were lots of unpleasant incidents. Our driver, Padraic, wanted us to guess which he was bought up in. Even today, mixing between Catholic and Protestant is problematic. With social media, mixed higher education and the younger generation the barriers are slowly shrinking.
      We enjoyed a 360° view of Belfast from the Victoria Dome. It is a huge steel and glass hemisphere above the Victoria Square shopping complex in the middle of the city. Final Guinness was at the Dirty Onion pub. Really nice timbered beer garden. Not so nice meal at The Yardbird upstairs.
      We’ve really enjoyed Belfast. Didn’t mention the weather. Each day there was some rain for half the day. Light, though, so it didn’t really affect what we wanted to do. Like everywhere else in Northern Ireland it is the people who add so much enjoyment to the trip. One guy in Belfast stopped us. “Do you need directions?” “No thanks……. Well, maybe.” He took us to M&S. ”I’m going there too”. Chatted all the way. Bus tickets, pubs, cafés; all the staff are really nice.
      Tomorrow, Cornwall.
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    • Day 345

      Peace Wall

      May 28 in Northern Ireland ⋅ ☁️ 16 °C

      Eine Mauer durch die Stadt, das kennen wir ja eigentlich, in Belfast ist es trotzdem anders.
      Die Mauer trennte Protestanten von Katholiken, pro-britische Unionisten von pro-irischen Republikanern. Ob es der richtige Weg war? Wer weiß das schon. Kämpfe, Bomben, Anschläge, Hungerstreiks ... gab es trotzdem und auch heute gibt es noch katholische und protestantische Viertel mit eigenen Kirchen, Schulen und Geschäften. Die Kämpfe haben inzwischen aufgehört, die IRA hat sich aufgelöst und in Belfast gibt es nur noch eine Mauer - für die Touristen. Interessant ist es auf jeden Fall, auch wenn ich zwischendurch ein wenig Schwierigkeiten hatte unseren Guide zu verstehen (der irische Akzent 😄), er hat uns viel gezeigt und erklärt.

      Im Anschluss sind wir quer durch die Stadt gelaufen, um zum Titanic Quarter zu kommen und ins Museum zu gehen. Leider hatten heute viele Leute die Idee und es gab keine Tickets mehr. Na gut, dann eben zurück zum Auto und dann endlich mal wieder in einen Baumarkt! (Das mit dem Fahrradständer auf der Deichsel ist irgendwie nicht so richtig ausgereift.)
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    • Day 7


      May 4, 2023 in Northern Ireland ⋅ ☁️ 8 °C

      In Belfast gab es heute so einiges zu sehen. Zunächst einmal die beeindruckende City Hall, die man selbstverständlich besichtigen darf. Dann ging es zu Fuß in die Hafencity von Belfast, wo sich das Titanic Museum und dahinter gleich die Titanic Studios befinden, in denen etliche Dreharbeiten zu Game of Thrones stattgefunden haben. Weiter ging es mit einem Hopp on Hopp off Bus zur Kathedrale von Belfast und am Ende schließlich in den für sein uraltes Ambiente berühmten Pup "The Crown".Read more

    • Day 2

      Shankhill Road Walk

      June 29, 2019 in Northern Ireland ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

      Second part of the walk was in the Unionist area. We walked through the gates in the Peace Wall where our two guides shook hands, then the Nationalist one went back through the gates. The second guide was once a member of the Ulster Defence Force as a youth, and to avoid becoming a full on member, the only choice to him was become a British Soldier. He'd personally been targeted and been bombed, but along with the other guide wanted peace. There had been too many innocent lives lost. Very fascinating insite into the conflicts from a couple of people directly involved.Read more

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