Sunday, August 18, 2019

Ireland Day 9 &10 Belfast

With only 2 days in Belfast we had quite a bit to fit in. We checked into the Europa Hotel, a beautiful hotel which was  the most bombed hotel in the world!!!!  Something like 36 times!!!

Across the hall from us was the Hilary  Clinton suite where she stayed when she visited Belfast. We walked over to the St George Market which is only open on Sundays and took a look at all the crafts, antiques and food. 

Then off to the Titanic Experience. This was the birthplace of the Titanic.  This museum takes you through the shipyards, walking the decks, the sinking of the ship, the stories of the survivors until the discovery of the remains and into the depths of the ocean. It was very well done and worth visiting.

We stopped off at The Crown Bar,  the most famous bar in Belfast. It was right across the street from our hotel and was like stepping back in time. It has ten differently-shaped cozy and elaborately carved wooden boxes for small groups to drink privately. 

I had a Jameson Whiskey and ginger ale with lime! More about whiskey later when we have our whiskey tasting with Rachel of "Rachel’s Irish Adventures". 
We went for dinner here the 2nd night but it wasn’t really that great and the service was quite terrible, so definitely not a must to do but you have to check out the bar. 

The next day we had a political tour...soooo interesting and a must to do!

There was unrest between Nationalist and Unionist citizens over the partition of Northern Ireland, which named the Republic of Ireland an independent state in 1921, with Northern Ireland under British control. Violence erupted between some citizens who wanted to reunite with Ireland and citizens who preferred to remain under Britain.

This violence continued until the 1980s and still to some extent even today. During the conflict, paramilitary groups, both Republicans (Nationalist) and Loyalists (Unionist), emerged, spreading violence across Northern Ireland, with almost 2,000 murals erected depicting these conflicts.
This tour took us to visit the murals and give us a peek into this very turbulent time in history.

Bobby Sands was a member of the paramilitary group the Irish Republican Army and a member of the UK parliament. He led the 1981 hunger strike and died in Prison Maze while on strike.

Falls Road and Shankill Road, Belfast
The most famous of the ‘peace walls’, as they’re now known, divides the Falls and Shankill Roads in the western part of Belfast.

It runs for several kilometres and is interrupted at several junctions by enormous metal gates across roads. At the height of the troubles, these were used as security checkpoints. Today, some of them are still locked at night to control movement.

Union Jack flags hang from houses and poles on the street. Ropes tied across the main street proudly display flags with the British colours and images of the Queen are everywhere.

It’s impossible not to know the loyalty of the people who live in this part of the city. On the other side of the walls you don't see any of these flags.

 Despite all the troubled past, Belfast is a city that is definitely worth visiting. 

Penny and Dan

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