At Queen’s University students get a three week Easter break — a perfect time to travel! My mom came to Belfast on March 24 and spent a few days in Belfast. I took her to some of the old historic pubs, like Robinson’s, and she got to see the boxing gym I’ve been going to. She visited the Titanic Museum and the Giant’s Causeway while I, a bit forlornly, finished a paper.
On her first full day in the city we took a political black taxi tour, which I think was as almost as much of an eye-opener for her as it was for me. Because The Troubles and the peace process following them are why I came to Belfast I have quite a bit of background knowledge about the conflict itself and Irish History in general. But simply knowing the facts about Belfast’s history does not even come close to comparing to someone personalizing and contextualizing the violence and horror that was once commonplace in Belfast. While I had talked to Irish people about The Troubles prior to this tour, having a someone who had lived in Belfast their entire life drive us around and really strive to make us grasp how bad it really was here, and how far Belfast has come was unlike anything I’ve ever done before.
Two days after taking this tour, my mom and I were off to Spain! It was quite a surreal experience. In only a couple of short hours we went from the unseasonably cold Belfast to sunny Barcelona. Barcelona shares a cultural similarity with Belfast; a group of its people wish to be separate from Spain and identify as part of a different cultural heritage – Catalan. It makes one wonder about the human condition. It seems that everywhere you visit you find a people that consider themselves separate from the larger state they see themselves as forcibly a part of – fodder for thought.