April 29th

I know I am waaaaay behind now on my blog posts, but I’ve been prioritizing sleep while in Edinburgh and time with friends, which I think is important!

EDIT: Pictures are being added gradually!

So, here it is, one of the most interesting days of my time in Europe so far:

April 29th: Belfast, Giant’s Causeway, Terrifying Rope Bridge

I woke up at 5:30 AM (again) and slept in till 5:45 (again) but this time I didn’t have much of a choice but to get up and get going since I had a longish walk ahead of me. We were meeting outside the Gresham Hotel, at the Millenium Spire, also known as the “Stiffy by the Liffey.” Its name, Millenium Spire, is even funny, because the expectation was that it would be made and done for the millenium, back in 2000. It wasn’t done till 2003!

Anyways, while standing by the giant needle, I struck up conversation with an older couple from Canada, mentioned I was from Boston, and someone else said she was from Boston too! The Canadians were quite nice (par for the course for Canadians), and I enjoyed talking to them. I couldn’t tell if the person from Boston disliked me or not, haha.

Anyways, so we all boarded the bus after waiting a solid half hour outside in the early morning. We got on and first headed to Belfast, where some people would go to the Titanic Museum, and some would go do the Black Taxi Tours around Belfast. I chose the taxi tours because I really wanted to learn more about The Troubles. History fascinates me. At a rest stop on the way there, I became friends with a student from Australia who was studying abroad in Edinburgh but was visiting Ireland for a few days before exams. So the trio became the Bostonian, the student, and me.

When we had crossed into Northern Ireland, at the point where we crossed, there used to be a huge checkpoint where people entering and exiting would have to go through thorough inspection. With big scary guns. Now – we just drove past a sign that said, “Welcome to Northern Ireland.” That’s it.

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Blurry picture, but it was the best I could do with little notice!

When we arrived in Belfast, I couldn’t believe how different it was from the rest of Ireland. It has such a different vibe. My trio sat in the taxi and we were joined by two older men on a business trip.

When the tour began, I couldn’t really take pictures of most of the murals on the Protestant side just because of where I was sitting in a seat where I would have had to reach over someone to take a picture, so I didn’t want to do that. Besides, honestly, I’m not really a fan of that side after the tour. Basically, on the Protestant side, there are mostly murals commemorating people who killed many Catholics. On the Catholic side, there are murals with so many of the names of people who died and fought for freedom. Too many children were killed. Sure, there were some murals depicting the members of the IRA, but they weren’t painted to look like the bad guys, but as people who fought for freedom. So many Catholics were dying during The Troubles that they asked if they could bury some of their dead in a Protestant graveyard. The Protestants agreed, but under 3 conditions. I can only remember two – they had to have their own gravedigger, and there had to be a 9 foot wall surrounding the dead body on all sides, just in case the Catholic person’s body sunk in the ground. The wall was to protect the Protestants from a Catholic desecrating their ground.

I will never understand religion.

So I’m going to put some pictures of the murals and of the Peace Wall, which I signed. I wrote, “There is beauty in all of us” because I couldn’t think of anything better to say, haha. I hope it inspires someone. The Peace Wall is made of three parts – a bomb proof part, a bullet proof part, and a grenade lobbing proof part (the top fence that is to prevent people from lobbing grenades). There was also a grenade fence on the Catholic side – it would catch grenades and keep the explosions contained to one side of the fence. The grenade catching fence is the green one next to the Peace Wall.

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Note the ages of many of the people who died. There were 11 year olds who were killed.

After Belfast, we went to Giant’s Causeway, which was simply amazing. There’s apparently a lot of folklore surrounding the Causeway. But it was beautiful. The stones were all formed into hexagonal shapes naturally.

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While at Giant’s Causeway, I kind of slipped and fell (I was fine, just got a bruise on my knee and my ego) and to soothe my bruises I got some mint chocolate chip ice cream. And that was some of the best ice cream I’ve ever had.

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I also crossed the Carrick-Rede rope bridge!! Unfortunately, my phone decided to die at that point because it was quite cold out, but here are some pictures of the sights before I got on the bridge.

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I won’t lie, as I crossed to the other side the first time, I panicked. I looked down as the wind picked up – first mistake. And then I froze – second mistake. And then I decided to quickly walk across to the other side because I didn’t want the rope bridge to be the end of me! Once I made it to the other side, it was incredible. The wind was so strong and fresh. All I wanted to do was sit there on the spongy grass all day. It was such an amazing experience. I’m never going to forget that. It was exhilarating. It was life changing. It wasn’t a blessing for that my phone died when it did, because I was able to really enjoy the moment. It was amazing.

I fell asleep a few times on the bus on the way back, so I don’t have any pictures of the scenery on the way from Northern Ireland to Dublin. But I loved seeing the sheep, the cows, the horses, and the rolling green hills – all so typical of Ireland but still so lovely to see.

After getting off the bus, the Australian student and I searched for food, but split ways when she found some pizza. I was looking for food that would be more Irish than American, so I wandered and then ran into an older married couple from Australia who I had talked to briefly on the bus. So we talked and ended up finding a place for dinner that was just absolutely amazing. The food was excellent, the conversation was deep, and the company was wonderful. They even covered my dinner and we exchanged numbers, addresses, and emails. They were the sweetest things!

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Anyways, that’s the end of that day. It was a fantastic day and I’m loving the freedom that traveling alone gives me.

As always, thank you for reading and sending all my love to everyone!! ❤

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