Monday, May 12, 2014

BELFAST and an introduction to Northern Ireland

"Get out of this dreamworld with heaven and hell, paradise and devil... Just be content. 
Happiness for me is just the lucky sequence of happy events and moments during a certain period but if you can generally be content in and with your life, that's what's important."
*Rikki from Belfast*

On a rainy Saturday morning, I flew to Belfast ... without plans, without a map, ... just curious to explore this 4th quarter of the UK and ready for a new adventure :)

I'm lucky with Belfast's moody weather ;)

Lots of old buildings constructed during the times of the industrial revolution catch my attention. Although Belfast was hit three times at an airraid by Hitler's Nazi Germany during the Blitz in 1941, a lot of impressive architecture is still (completely) preserved to this day.

the location where Titanic was built in the modern days

The Crown = a jewel of the good old days - Belfast's oldest pub and still uses gas lamps to lighten up the whole place. We take a seat in one of the antique separees - kinda stables with table and benches that separate one gathering from another...
While I am having breakfast, the sun finds its way through a thick blanket of clouds and it's sunny throughout a considerable part of the afternoon *lucky*

Hence, I get on a "hop on-hop off" bus to get a glimpse of Belfast's history and suburbs outside the centre, going to the Titanic Quarter and alongside the peace walls from the 70s.

  Belfast peace wall

Until this day, the gates fully function and in case of a sudden emergency the button can be pressed to shut Royalists from Nationalists. Unbelievable that only a few years ago there was fierce fighting going on, bomb atrocities and kidnapping. In the evening, when I walk through the dark streets w/ Rikki - a local Belfast man in his 50s - I am fortunate to hear a few firsthand insider stories about the times of the so-called Troubles.
I become more aware of the impact these tragic conflict had on families, current lives and even future generations.
walking over to a quarter near Donegall road,  where fierce fighting went on during the days of the so-called Troubles

Faces of young people are painted on walls, reminding passers-by of how the killing happened even amongst friends who played together in their childhood days. Rikki points out a young lad in his early 20s, painted on a wall by the Red Hand Command, a militant group: "We played together in the sandbox but the went ahead and would kill people."

Me, questioning ideology behind the atrocities and why these people became so violent opened up a somewhat diffuse picture of
  • some people indeed believing in one of the two sides
  • some people striving to take revenge
  • some people killing because they get a kick out of it?!
Well, it seems it is exactly what happens at so many places in this world ... and it's not making anything better. So, when will we be able to recognize that?!?

On Sunday a somewhat "lighter" day awaits me, no serious talks and concerning issues ... I let Northern Ireland's beautiful landscape and gorgeous weather surprise me :)

 walking over the rope bridge that fishermen originally installed in order to check on their catches ... they have long been gone and nowadays it is used as tourist attraction

 Up north along the coast all the way to the Giants Causeway :)

 The Giants Causeway is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a geological phenomenon: 

62-65 million years old and unexplainable hexagonal shaped stones reach all the way into the wild ocean. 40,000 interlocking basalt columns might be the outcome of a volcanic eruption...
...but legend has it that Irish giant Finn MacCool was challenged to a fight by the giant Benandonner from Scotland. In order for them to meet and fight out their discrepancies, Finn is said to have built the causeway across the North Channel....

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