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Belfast, Dublins smaller, Irish brother

Belfast, United Kingdom

We only spent two days in Belfast. We took an mid morning train from Dublin and a short 2 hours later we were there. It was such a difference being away from all the tourism. The violence in Belfast has drastically gone down in the last few years and tourists are just starting to see it as a relatively safe place to come to. Therefore, there is much less infrastructure for tourists but much better for those who want to come and see a more real experience of Ireland. We stayed at the HI hostel, which was nice, but seems to be a bit more quiet and family oriented than we would normally visit. It also rained here for almost the whole two days that we were here, but it seemed to be more bareable for some reason, not as windy either. From what was left of the day we decided to check out some of the murals that were done by both sides of the conflict, the Republicans and Loyalists (Catholics and Protestants).
The murals are located in each respective community and are an expression of the anxiety and challenges each community faces. Over the years both communities have decided to make murals that are more of a celebration of both communities rather than a depiction of violence or offence. Some of the murals we saw also are a commentary on the violence that is going on in other parts of the world, mentioning Che Guevera, Bush and the loss of innocent civilian life. It was somber and at the same time beautiful to see communties take a stand and express their anger, views and a need for change if even only on a wall for those to see who walk by. Some of the murals were painted on the "Peace Wall" which is a barbwire brick wall which divides the Nationalist Falls Road of West Belfast and the Protestant area of Shankhill and depicts those who have died fighting for their causes. All in all we walked around for close to 4 hours just to see everything and get a feel for the city. For dinner we found a great pub called "Auntie Mays" near the University and had some pints of Harps and Chad unsuccessfully tried to explain to the bartenders how to make a Crown Float. Several failed attempts later we gave up...if anyone knows how to pour one and what goes first, let us know!

Day two was spent at the Giants Causeway, we took a tour that lasted all day and took us through some of the coastal side of Ireland, to the Giants causeway, lunch at a quaint hotel, the Carrawick Rope Bridge and a 1400 century castle. The Causeway stones are known as the eight wonder of the world and there are over 40,000 of them.

The causeway was formed during the early Tertiary period some 62 - 65 million years ago over a long period of igneous activity. Three lava outflows occurred known as the Lower, Middle and Upper Basaltic. Lulls occurred between the outflows as is evident in the deep inter-basaltic layer of reddish brown 'lithomarge' which is rich in clay, iron and aluminium oxides from weathering of the underlying basalt. The hexagonal columns of the causeway occur in the middle basalt layer.
The pattern of the causeway stones formed as a result of rock crystallization under conditions of accelerated cooling, this usually occurs when molten lava comes into immediate contact with water, the resulting fast accelerated cooling process causes cracking and results in the hexagonal columns. Pretty awesome stuff!
We had an amazing lunch at the hotel, Guiness Steak Pie and traditional Irish stew, so good! It definately warmed us up.
By the time we got back to the hotel we were pretty exhausted from the long but really great day, our flight to Barcelona was early in the morning so early bed time!

permalink written by  ECRadventure on May 15, 2009 from Belfast, United Kingdom
from the travel blog: ECRadventure's Travel Blog
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