Today we drove from Ballycastle to Carrickfergus along the beautiful Antrim Coast hugging the tight turns all the way. Very lovely indeed and not a long drive at all. What we thought would take us four hours only took one and a half hours including a couple of quick side trips to catch a view of something interesting. The sight of Carrickfergus Castle indicated our arrival to the town where we would stop for the night. We found our hotel (too early to check in) and left the car in the parking lot to catch the 20 minute train ride into Belfast for the day.
Belfast is gorgeous…big…and fascinating. First up on the agenda was a Black Taxi Tour of the city. Terry, our driver, was wonderful and so engaged in his story telling. He gave us the 90 minute history of the religious/political background that lead to “The Troubles” that we westerners know about but can’t really appreciate. He was a little boy when it all began in late 60’s. His perspective was very personal… for example, whenever there was an explosion in the streets, he and his friends would look for a way around it rather than to run away. He drove us slowly past a couple of the 40 peace walls in the city and explained some of the murals that we saw and the stories of the people and events behind them. The experience was sobering… neither Monica nor I dared say much during the tour out of respect and for fear of showing our ignorance. He was incredible and the story of Belfast and the rest of Ireland has new meaning for us now that we’ve been there.
After the tour, we set out on foot to see the rest of the downtown core with its magnificent architecture. As we walked the streets, we recounted the stories our cab driver has told us… and a two hour walk seemed like 15 minutes. Of course, there were a couple of cathedrals that just begged to be seen and rightly so… my favorite was St. Patrick’s. We also saw St. Georges Market which was packed with Sunday shoppers, got a glimpse of the Titanic Museum from across the river, Albert Clock Tower, and City Hall just to name a few of the more famous landmarks. We also slipped into the renowned Crown Bar for a glass of wine (gorgeous, opulent and expensive!). The entire city is grand and it was very difficult to narrow my photo selection for the blog down to the chosen 32 pics.