After visiting all the extremes that the city had to offer, we headed to the the city centre. Well, Belfast is just an amazing place! It is small, the people are so welcoming and each one has their beliefs, just like all of us. City hall, Parliament Buildings, Queen’s University… it is just incredible! When came the time for the to go to University, that’s where I wanted to go, but couldn’t. Ah well, you can’t always get what you want!
Belfast is a city unlike any other in the world and its uniqueness and extremes makes it a place that everyone should visit! I would highly recommend it!
When I first arrived in Belfast, I was looking for the place where I was staying. I had never been to Belfast before, so I had no idea where the place was. I was with my sister and my stepfather at the time. Having come from Dublin, we were driving a car with the Republic of Ireland license plates. Well, what’s the matter? The place we were staying was just at the entrance of Loyalist Sandy Row. I didn’t see what the problem was, until we missed the entrance to the hotel and drove deep into the street. Oh God! We got some mad looks and a few “get out of here, you don’t belong here!”. That’s when I felt a little bit of how the city was divided and what I was to expect. There too, we got bombarded by snowballs, but where didn’t we? Not as much to see as Falls Road, but it was a very interesting experience. Well, Belfast is an amazing city. I just thought of mentioning the two regions because, if you visit the city, you will most likely visit those regions and take a picture of the murals!
If you’ve been to Belfast, you know about the troubles in the 70’s, which we hope we can all see it as a very distant past. Falls Road and some of its adjacent streets are the Republican area of the city, where the headquarters of Sinn Fein (Gerry Adams et al.). It is a very intense region, with its many murals depicting old and current affairs, such as the hunger strikers, bloody sunday, George Bush drinking oil, Palestine… you name it! It is a nice display of belief and politics, which I try to remain unbiased as a mere traveller, who wants to experience the place and the region for what it is. I really enjoyed the visit, would have enjoyed more if we could get out of the car for a bit longer. It was snowing really heavily and anyone on the streets were being bombarded by snowballs by the local kids. Try to open the window to breathe a little and boom, snowball in the face.
I can’t really pin down when I saw the Giant’s Causeway for the first time on TV, but I always wanted to visit it, but up to when I was 14 and still living in Brazil, I didn’t really know where it was. Well, to be honest, I didn’t really think about it very much. When I found out that I was going to move to Ireland, I started to research about the country and saw this beautiful place again, but it took me six years to visit it from the date I arrived. Well, it is that type of thing: “I can go whenever I want”, then you realize that 30 years have passed (exaggeration is just for effect, I am only 27…), you have visited the whole world, but the beauties just outside your house are taken for granted!
As my summary tells, I am a PhD student, but what it doesn’t is that I was born and raised in Brazil, educated in Ireland (when I spent my adolescence and most of my adult life), but had to move to the UK to pursue something bigger and better. Well, typical irish story, right? Ireland not doing so well, so move to the UK, why not? So this place, in particular (not where I used to live), speaks to me, mainly because of the song by Percy French, “Mountains of Mourne” (Don McLean’s interpretation, my favourite!). It tells the story of an irishman who moved to London and saw the wonders of the place, but was always longing for home. Doesn’t matter what London had to offer, he would rather be back “to the place where the dark Mourne sweeps down to sea”. Well, this pictures speaks way more than one thousand words. I miss Ireland.