Sunday, February 2, 2014

Derry and Belfast

The most prominent memory i have of Derry has to be learning about "the troubles. I had only a very vague idea of what went down (ie that the song sunday bloody sunday was based on true events), so visiting the museum in the bogside really changed things. When we first reached derry i immediately felt a heaviness. Perhaps it was the area of town or the weather--but things felt gloomy. Erin and i started walking, hitting a cathedral, the hands of the divide, and the bogside murals (and subsequently there, the free derry museum). There were many artifacts of the day, letters, photographs, clothing items, protest banners, audio, and much more. It was truly shocking to me to realize how recently the civil unrest occured--so many people, including a bunch of young people, were being murdered in derry and belfast left and right. How scary would that be? This museum definitely left a mark.

Erin and i grabbed lunch afterwards and while doing so, caught up on some cnn coverage of other social injustices going on around the globe. How topical our visit was...

Derry was cold and dark in early evening (including our hostel dorm room) so that night we went to a movie theatre to see american hustle, and having arrived 2 hours early, we befriended the theatre employee dan and asked him about the tracksuit epidemic in ireland. It was a pretty good night.

On our way to belfast we hit Giant’s Causeway, which is quite the developed tourist destination. There were a tonne of interactive displays (mostly aimed at kids) that we perused while waiting for our tour guide--the love of our li ves, john. I didnt really get as much out of the tour as i wished.. The winds were going at what felt like 70 clicks an hour, and it hailed a little during our tour. It was pretty magnificent.. Not only the hexagonal basalt columns, but the gigantic mountains all around the coast. Insane!

After that we were off to belfast. Navigating at rush hour was stressful for sure, so we were quite relieved to find lagan backpackers hostel. We checked in and unpacked and drove right down to the airport to drop off little baby. We just took a taxi back (which developed into a definite theme of our days there) and had a hoot of a driver who cracked us up the whole drive. Goodness gracious, belfast.

The other hostel guests and employees quickly got on with us, which felt so nice. The crew was so friendly and full of good cheer. We went to the grocery for some drinks of the alcoholic variety, and lets just say, the wine was flowin'. (Practicing for italy, spain and life.) we hit a pretty popular pub with a silly name possibly ending in McGees and had a rip roarin time.

The next morning, oh, the next morning, erin and i had our own walking tour, where we checked out the titanic quarter, including the titanic belfast museum. Go here only if you have about 5 hours, cause thats basically how long we were there. Hah. this museum is so in-depth, interactive and modern. Tonnes of cool multimedia exhibits to look through. Highly recommed it!

It was quite the rainy day, so erin and i made our way victoria square, which is a partially outdoor mall. It was kinda trippy cause it was weird feeling you may get rained on at any minute? Picked up a few things and headed back to the hostel to throw our bags down and shower. We were meeting erins friend catherine (friend made through a school exchange program) and her bud john for dinner at a nice place called The Apartment for dinner across from the city hall which lights up blue at night. Beautiful! We spent too much money, but it was SO GOOD. Afterwards we hit up a multi-level bar until late. My fave part was dancing to the smiths on the ground level. Fun timez!

On our last day erin and i hooked up with a hostelmate named eric to take a black taxi tour to see the west belfast murals. We got a tourguide named joe who was recommended to us, and he was amazing. A former political prisoner, he was so informative, friendly and passionate. That along with seeing tonnes of street art was really cool. Joe dropped us off at the ulstra museum which documented a lot of scottish history as well as general scientific, geological and industrial developments throughout the ages. Very well designed and laid out... Really enjoyed myself!

After that we were off to the airport for our flight to edinburgh, where we flew with about 20 rowdy drunk football fans off to a game. Funniest flight ever.

Stay tuned for edinburgh!


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