Northern Ireland

6 Apr

I had a slightly different experience than everyone else when starting this trip, as I had classes on Friday that I could not miss, so I headed up to Belfast on the bus with a few other girls who also had Friday classes.   We made it to the hotel just as everyone was starting to eat dinner, and so we sat down and our peers told us about the day they had had.  They explained about the peace wall, and how it truly seemed to illustrate the conflict that still existed, and how many of them felt that this was not the proper way to deal with the situation.  They also told us about the Orange Order and what they had seen there.  Overall, it sounded like a great day, and was somewhat upset that I was not able to get out my classes so that I could have seen Belfast.  That night after dinner, we went out and explored the city a little bit, but knew we had a long day ahead of us on Saturday so we went to bed early.  Saturday began by travelling to the Carrick-a-Rede bridge.  This site was absolutely stunning, and for the most part, it was sunny outside, making the whole experience extremely enjoyable. Also, I’ve just become obsessed with Game of Thrones, so I was geeking out that we were so close to where it had been filmed. 

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After lunch we travelled to Giant’s Causeway, but unfortunately by this point in the afternoon, the weather had changed and it had become very windy and cold.  So after a few pictures and being especially careful not to slip on any of the rocks we were climbing on, we headed back up the hill and towards the bus.  We then travelled towards Derry/Londonderry, made it to the hotel, had a late dinner and called it a night.  The next day, Sunday, began with a walking tour of the city, and our tour guide was the best.  He was so funny and knowledgeable, but also knew when to be serious as we were learning about Bloody Sunday and the troubles that ruled Irish citizen’s lives only a few short decades ago.  The weather was great for a tour (besides a brief hail storm) and after the tour we had a little break to grab lunch.  Some of the girls and I went to a restaurant and then everyone gathered back at the hotel to walk over to the playhouse where we were going to see a film about the troubles.   This film, for me at least, was the most informational and best part of our trip to Northern Ireland.  I’m not sure if that is just because I had missed Friday, but I thought it was great to experience first hand accounts from individuals on both sides of the conflict, Republicans/Loyalists, jail guards/those that they were jailing.  It was a fair and honest discussion of what was happening.  The greatest thing to come out of the movie was at the panel discussion, when one of the men had said, through this, I have become best friends with someone who at one point I was fighting against.  If we can be friends, then there is hope for peace in the world.  This striking point was what we were left with after our weekend in Northern Ireland, and so we can all hope that one day the conflict will all be over, more peaceful and more understanding throughout all Irish people.  

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