A Travellerspoint blog

August 16, 2011, Day 10

sunny 64 °F

Barely made breakfast before the 10am close...traveling can wear you out. Did some research on Belfast tours since we really only have one day here.

Belfast is quite different than Dublin. Dublin appears to be very old, very quaint, with pubs on every corner. Belfast appears to be much more modern...with a poor city planning department. You can see a 300 year old church next to a modern looking office building. The architecture is not particularly attractive.

After consulting with Gerard, we settled on a three hour black taxi tour and we made the right choice.

Bill, our driver and guide for the three hour tour, took us on a fascinating, emotional and extremely informative journey through the streets of Belfast. Let's start with the fact that he is a non-practicing Protestant who is married to an Irish Catholic woman. I would guess that he is in his very late 40s from information he willingly shared with us.

There is not a lot to sight see in Belfast. You have the boat works where the Titanic was built and a very interesting looking building under construction which will house the Titanic museum beginning April 2012. It has four ship's bows that are the identical size of the Titanic designed into the structure. My pictures were taken from the cab and are not very good. Then there is Belfast Castle which, as Bill pointed out, is not really a castle, but a nice building with beautiful gardens that sits high on a hill with views that would be attractive if Belfast were an attractive city. There is St. Peter's, an 18th century Catholic church. There are huge cranes that are the largest dry dock cranes in the world. But, the bad news is that, whereas the shipping industry in Belfast once produced 30,000 jobs, it now produces only several hundred.
There is an old, large building where The Game of Thrones is filmed (Gary, if you're reading).

What this city is about, however, is "the troubles"...the conflict between the Protestants and Catholics that has been going on for centuries...which gained international attention beginning in the 1960s and ultimately culminating with the Good Friday agreement in 1998. But violence continues to this date. Bill took us through the Protestant "projects" with fascinating murals documenting the Protestants' view of things. We then went to the Catholic side of town with a wall, much like the Berlin wall, 4.8 miles long, 30 feet tall with barbed wire and "safety gates" with similar murals declaring the Catholics' point of view. Bill was very emotional during this three hours which, I must say, was the most interesting and fascinating tour we have taken to date.

Posted by stevencavalli07 23:51 Archived in Northern Ireland

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