Thursday, July 16, 2009

Things To Do In Belfast

Recently, my friend Marianne and I took an epic trip to Ireland. This included a visit to the city Belfast, in Northern Ireland. Despite the fact that Belfast is best known for its somewhat tumultuous history, we immediately fell in love with this place. In case you've never been and were wondering, "Gee, what does one do in Belfast?"...I've created a few brief tips and suggestions.

First, you could visit the headquarters of Sinn Fein, which apparently has a gift shop (closed unfortunately on Sundays, when we went to scout it out).

You could go see the Peace Wall, which is a bit ironically named, considering it acts to separate/segregate Catholic and Protestant neighborhoods. Apparently there are over 20 of these "peace lines" in Belfast. Some have gates which close every night, effectively locking people in...and out. You can sign this wall, though, which tons of people have, which is kind of cool.
"Our divided society can be a better place to live."

In a similar vein, you can see the many, many interesting (and some slightly unsettling) political murals, which line many a wall in Belfast. The following two are on Falls Road (Catholic/Republican neighborhood). This one is from the "Solidarity Wall", which has murals of the Palestinian conflict, Fredericks Douglas, and Che Guevara.
This one is right outside the Sinn Fein office. It's of Bobby Sands, a famous IRA volunteer who died on a hunger strike in 1981.
This one is on Sandy Row, a Protestant/Loyalist neighborhood. It's helpful in case you've forgotten what neighborhood you're in.
From around Shankill Road, another Protestant/Loyalist neighbor. We saw this one while on a "Black Cab" tour, where a cabbie takes you around different parts of the city and talks about the conflict and The Troubles and all that jazz. The cabbie stopped and let us look around and see all a bunch of the murals in the area. When we came back, he asked "Did you see the gunman that was following you?" We immediately freaked out a little bit, but it turns out he meant the gunman on this mural. It's a bit creepy because it's like those paintings with the eyes that follow you - no matter what direction you're facing or where you're looking, the gun is indeed always pointed at you.
Also in Belfast - you can learn worthwhile lessons about products from bus stop advertisements, like this one. Apparently Tango causes hair loss AND casual sexism.
So, after you're done walking around segregated communities, listening to this city's (still) depressing history, might need to go get some drinks. Lavery's is a good place for this.

And of course, while traveling in Belfast (or really, anywhere for that matter), you must declare metal with random foreigners!
This has been an edition of Lindsey's travel tips. Goodnight, folks.


Anna said...

Lindsey's travel tips are the best travel tips. I am so glad that gunman wasn't real.

Megan said...

I'm so so envious! You know my love of graffiti - why have I never gone to Belfast?

Freyja said...

Well, clearly we need to go so you can take pictures of all the walls!

Dan said...

Good post...I arrive in Belfast in 8 hours.. :)