I had always heard of Belfast as being a dangerous city and that I should just skip it and move onto another site in Northern Ireland like Giants Causeway (which I still plan on visiting by the way). But to my surprise I actually liked Belfast. In my Irish History class we had learned a lot about the Northern Ireland the uprisings and its battle over civil rights between Catholics and Protestants, which is still at large today. Getting to see a stretch of the peace walls, covered in murals and graffiti, put up between the two religous communities was an eye-opening experience, and although they are projected to all be taken down in the next few years it is obvious that won't solve all of the problems.
The struggles of the past were put into even more perspective for me with the start of the 39th G8 Summit coming to Northern Ireland just two days after our visit. Extra security measures were at large due to the eight country leaders - Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the UK and the US - that were to arrive, which included groups of Garda walking the streets, road blocks and a helicopter that continuously hovered over the city centre, all in addition to the already prominent sercuirty cameras that lined almost every street.
The big event for our day trip was the Titanic museum located just next to the where the ship was built and sent off. And although walking through this four level museum, which was just recently finished last year, was fascinating I would have liked to spend some some more time exploring Belfast in general. Three hours in the museum was more time than needed to learn about the ships production, its rout, passengers and discovery. Fun fact: for just a cool five million you can dive down to the site where the Titanic sunk, which is now considered a UNESCO world heritage site.Minus the disappointing bus tour through the city the trip overall provided great insight into the Northern Ireland culture, which I really knew nothing about. Prior to arrival in Ireland I knew that there was tension between the Republic of Ireland and the North but I never had a complete understand as to why, and I probably never would have taken the time to learn had I not come here. Another stop just outside of the Belfast to Downpatrick and the St. Patrick Center, brought us to the grave site of the historical Irish patron saint, St. Patrick. A short trip, we watched a short documentary film that followed the events of Patrick's life and journey back to Ireland and then visited his gravesite and the St. Patrick Cathedral before heading back on a mountain drive for Dublin.
The Mourne Mountains of County Down in Northern Ireland were both beautiful and bouncy to drive through. The hillsides were bright green and speckled with cows and sheep. There are few things this mountain range is known for in Ireland. They are the highest mountain range in Northern Ireland (province of Ulster) and were also proposed as the first national park. But what they are most known for relates more to pop-culture. The Mourne Mountains were used as filming sites of both The Chronicles of Narnia and the popular television show Game of Thrones. On the drive back to Dublin we also passed the hometown of the Bronte sisters father, Patrick Bronte.The big event for our day trip was the located just next to the where the ship was built and sent off. And although walking through this four level museum, , was facinating I would have liked to spend some some more time exploring Belfast in general. Three hours in the museum was more time than needed to learn abuot the ships production, its rout, passengers and discovery. Fun fact: for just a cool five million dollars you can dive down to the site where the Titanic sunk, which is now considered a UNESCO world heritage site.