Once we settled in at Glen Park we enjoyed a quiet night. Last time I saw that many shisha was in Istanbul or perhaps it was Lakemba. Anyway it’s another grey start but that has become the norm.
We try to follow local knowledge when we hear it. So we point the Hymer at Carrickfergus, it’s only about 8 kms.
Map showing Carrickfergus Castle location.
Time to go, so we turn the Hymer for Belfast. It’s an easy 20 minutes and we park in this huge car-park off Middlepath Street in central Belfast. There is no overnight parking here but our day park only costs £5.60 which seemed reasonable.
Map of Belfast showing our parking spot
We have a Pizza Hut pizza of all things for lunch (first time in 20 years). Pam wasn’t happy, but given we had walked for miles by this stage, she actually said ‘nice pizza’ as we walked out.
For the next 90 minutes we get a guided view of the Catholic (Nationalist) Falls Road and Protestant (Unionist) Shankill Road areas. Darren was born on the Falls Road, votes for Sinn Fien but gives a balanced view of the wrongs on both sides.
We visit the various mural sites, murder hot spots and the wall that still divides these communities. A Belfast Taxi Tour costs £45 and we thought it well worth the money.
The wall was built following a series of riots in 1969, this section is 5kms in length. They still close and lock the 6 gates every night at 11pm and re-open them at 6am. We had no idea all this still goes on after so many years. Darren explains that tensions always rise as the 12th July (Orangemen’s Day) approaches. The Orangemen start building huge bonfires all around Northern Ireland, but particularly so in Belfast adjoining the Nationalist areas.
Panorama of murals, the Falls Road
We walk back to the Hymer discussing our day. Belfast has been a wonderful place to explore. We pay for our parking and drive about 8kms on to Holywood and park overlooking the Lough. Another day slides through to the keeper…