From Paris we flew back to Dublin, then moved on to Belfast for a couple of days.
Getting excited on the train to Belfast!
Unfortunately we had a pretty miserable time in the city. It was wet, dark, gloomy, and even started to snow. On our first day there we wanted to be positive and not spend the day at the hostel, so we went for a walk … and got soaked. I had’t thought to bring rain books, so my socks were thoroughly soaked by the end of the day. For the rest of our time in the north I had to put my feet in plastic bags before putting my shoes on to keep them dry!
Trying to stay dry!
I wasn’t lying about the bags!
We tried to have a better time on our second day. We took a black cab tour in the morning, which drove us around the city and went into some detail about its history. Except every time we took a picture in front of a mural, as directed by our driver, he would tell us to say ‘happy’. It was pretty awkward.
Here’s The Crown, one of the oldest bars in Belfast. They story about the bar is as follows: it was owned by a couple, the wife being Protestant and the husband Catholic. She wanted to name it the Crown and of course she won. But in reality, he won as he was able to put a welcome mat with a crown on it by the door, so when you came in you walked on top of the crown.
The Europa Hotel was once the most bombed hotel in the world, but has recently become demoted to the most bombed hotel in Europe. Journalists and high ranking people would stay here (Bill Clinton stayed here). The IRA would warn the hotel management to get everyone out and then bomb it. The journalists staying there would write about the bombing which would be publicized around the world – the result the IRA wanted.
At one point a large crowd of people turned around the corner and our cab stopped. All of a sudden he opens the doors and says “It’s an IRA parade, go get some pictures.” and so feeling very awkward we took some pictures of the IRA parade.
Protestant Murals in Belfast:
With that our cab tour ended, but it was incredibly informative. We were in a pretty good mood, so we decided to give Belfast Castle a go, and do a nearby hike! But it was too foggy, so we had to turn back soon after.
And so we searched for something to do inside! There was a market near the city centre that we stopped at, and then we ended up at city hall. There are free tours at Belfast City Hall, which was a good way to spend the rest of the day.
My spoils from the market: 1 chocolate sheep
By the end of two days we were ready to move on.