Belfast, Giant’s Causeway, and the Titanic!
A few weeks ago, IFSA took us on a trip to Northern Ireland! Not only did we see absolutely gorgeous scenery, but we also learned a lot about the troublesome history of Belfast, a city split between Catholics and Protestants. We stayed in the center of Belfast, which is the capital of Northern Ireland, part of the U.K. The first day of the trip, we took a tour of the Northern coast and Giant’s Causeway. The drive along the coast offered some of the most spectacular views I have ever seen! Not only were the views of Ireland’s coast amazing, but we were also able to see over to Scotland! The first stop on the drive was the Carrick-a-rede rope bridge, a world-famous rope bridge that is about 30 meters above the rocks and water below. It was actually very exhilarating walking across the bridge, even though I was focused on the gorgeous scenery surrounding it!
After the rope bridge, we headed to lunch at The Old Bushmills Distillery, the original distillery of Bushmills. The lunch was absolutely delicious, not to mention the Irish coffee after! After lunch, we went to Giant’s Causeway, which was a place along the coast that is absolutely breathtaking. The rocks around the area formed circular patterns, which can be accounted for in two ways. The first is the scientific explanation, that a volcano erupted millions of years ago and the overflowing lava caused the rock to form a circular shape. But the much more interesting explanation is one of the numerous legends surround it, my favorite being the one about the Irish vs. the Scots. According to legend there was a giant from Ireland and a giant from Scotland who decided to fight, so the Irish giant built the causeway and ended up winning the fight! The causeway was absolutely breathtaking, and in my opinion, it rivaled the Cliffs of Moher. It is even deemed one of the natural wonders of the U.K., and for those who have visited, it is no surprise as to why. The sea comes right up to the columns on the causeway, with the waves of the Atlantic crashing over them, soaking them in saltwater and sea foam. Pictures cannot do justice to the scenery, nor can words.
Even though we spent about two hours at the causeway, I easily could have spent an entire day. But next we went to an old castle that was absolutely massive, and built right along the coast. Looking out the window-holes, you could see the sea crashing against the rocks. Even though the castle was built hundreds of years ago, you had the feeling that people actually lived there, and used it as a fortress from enemies.
The next day, we took a Black Taxi tour of Belfast. The Black Taxi tours are famous for showing tourists the conflict between the Protestants and Catholics, conflict that continues today. It was incredible to hear stories of how the Catholics and Protestants fought each other, and even killed each other. What was truly amazing was when our taxi driver told us that even today if you were a Catholic, you would not be welcome in Protestant neighborhoods. Luckily, a lot of the conflict has been resolved, but there is still a lot more that needs to be done. One 0f the stops on the tour was the Peace Wall, a wall that many people have signed in hopes of helping the people of Belfast live together in unity.
After the Black Taxi tour, we went to the Titanic Museum! Ever since I was little, I loved learning about the Titanic (and watching Leo and Kate in the movie)! Since the Titanic was built in Belfast, we were able to go to the museum that was dedicated to telling the story of both the ship and the people on it. Not only was the museum very informative and interactive, but it was actually very emotionally provocative. The stories that were shared were heartbreaking. It was humbling to read diaries of people who were on the ship, and actually understand the atrocities of class distinction. Even though James Cameron’s movie may be fiction, I’m sure there were people on the ship who had stories similar to Rose and Jack’s, and I am so happy I was able to experience them.
After a long day, my friends and I finished the night right, with three pizzas delivered to our hotel! The next morning, after a two hour bus ride, we were back in Dublin. The whole weekend was absolutely fabulous, and I am so grateful to have seen and experienced all that Northern Ireland had to offer. The scenery was spectacular, and the history of the city and its people was incredible!
That’s it for now!