Day 3: Rest day in Belfast

We started off the day with breakfast at the hotel. As well as hash browns the Irish have a bread called Soda bread which is like fried bread, but a bit fuller because of the Soda. It was delicious but I could feel my arteries hardening as I ate it. The Irish are big on fried breakfast and often as you go through towns you will see a sign “6 fries for £10”. I asked an Irish person what this meant and it’s a mixture of eggs, bread, hash brown, sausages, bacon, mushrooms and beans.

After breakfast we walked to the Titanic museum.

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The Titanic was built in Ireland. In 1907 the port was the biggest employer with 6,000 workers who would work on average 68 hours a week. Apart from the most skilled workers, employment mostly was on a casual basis, so no job security and work related accidents were numerous.

As well as the docks, in the early 1900 Belfast was the linen capital, with access to world cotton mill and labour and industrialization. It was very interesting to look around the museum, they have interactive displays that show how the whole ship was built.

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After a couple of hours we retired to the café for a cup of tea. Waiting in the line they had the most amazing meringues I have ever seen however I was still so full from breakfast I wasn’t able to fit one in.

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Today is the 31st May, which is my dads birthday, plus it was 107 years since the Titanic was launched at 12:15pm. As it was nearly that time we went down to where the Titanic was launched at 12.15 pm on the dot.

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Tony and Michele in best Titanic pose at the launching area

On the way back into town we came across a new mobile truck – not ice cream, not food, not coffee, but a Mobile hair bus. Reckon this would go down well at old folks homes.

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We went into town looking for a bike shop. My list of items not packed continues to grow – add to it wet weather socks to wear with my bike sandals, and merino tops to keep me warm in the rain.

We found the bike shop but it had limited stock and they gave us the name of a store a few kilometres away. We stopped for Lunch at burger place called City Picnic. Pretty upmarket burger bar, as along with burgers and wraps it also sell cocktails beer and wine. I had a chicken wrap with beer.

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At the bike shop I couldn’t get what I wanted, but did get some over boots which might work. Back to the hotel in time for the 4pm pick up for the Black Cab Tour.

IMG-0452Michele and Tony came on the tour, we had asked Shirley and Dan as well but Dan has a cold. The black cab tour takes you to both Catholic and Protestant areas of Belfast. In 1969 there was friction between Catholics and Protestants, now referred to as “The Troubles”. There are different versions of what happened depending on who you talk to, but there was fault on both sides. There were a lot of innocent people killed as well as the target assignations of the hierarchy on both sides – IRA for the Catholics and UDA and UFF for the protestants. Interestingly the news I remember never mentioned the UDA.

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There has mostly been peace for the last 20 years, helped by a peace wall that runs between and separates the Catholic and Protestant areas. There are 4 gates that get shut at night to stop people going from one side to the other. One shuts at 5pm every night, one shuts at 11 pm.

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Peace wall stretches 5.5 k

 

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Protestant side in the vicinity of the Bombay Rd troubles.

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One of the gates that closes at night

 

 

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Art work on the peace wall made out of bicycle parts

 

Every year there is march in July for the Protestant’s and in August for the Catholics. They build huge bonfires as part of it, mainly using pellets, many stories high.

 

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Protestant Bonfire being erected ready for yearly show of strength. Dividing fence in the background.

David, our tour guide, has lived here all his life and says things are slowly changing with integrated schools starting in the past few years. However inter-religion marriages are still rare. After a nasty bombing where a number of innocent people were killed the Catholic and Protestant women got together and drove peace talks. A symbol of this is a picture of the woman’s quilt painted at the end of a building in the Protestant section.

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Mural on Sinn Fein office

After the tour we got dropped off in town and went to a place recommended by David called The Apartment. We shared potatoes skins and cheese bread as a starter then I had a steak and salad sandwich. Medium rare it was not, but was pretty nice.

On the way back we walked past an interesting shaped bar called Bitters Bar, built to fit the space available. We didn’t go in as we had to get back and pack and get ready for an early start.

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We are leaving the hotel at 6am to catch the ferry to Scotland to Cairnryan. We get off the boat at 10am then have to ride 106 km with 1200 meters climbing. Bit daunting, plus the weather is not looking favourable.

 

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2 thoughts on “Day 3: Rest day in Belfast

  1. Theresa Souness

    Loved the Belfast report – brought back memories, thanks! Hip op done- successful- now home again- hibernating with the fire cranked up. Keep safe & enjoy. xxx

  2. Hi Theresa pleased the hip op went ok xxx

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