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Northern Exposure
Rating : (5.0) (13 Votes)

Belfast, United Kingdom
Jul 01, 2004


Pros
: The northern coast was peaceful and beautiful.
Cons: Traffic was really bad because there was a bomb threat

After a couple sick days in Galway, I headed to Northern Ireland.

The first stop was Derry, aka Londonderry. This was the site of the Bloody Sunday killings and the Troubles between the loyalist Protestants and the Irish Catholics. Even though a peace agreement was signed in 1994, there are still problems. Only a week before my visit over 50 catholic and protestant kids had a rock throwing fight. The whole feeling of the city was tense.

The northern coast was peaceful and beautiful. I stayed at a great hostel in Ballintoy, a town of about 100 residents, one pub, and only one shop/post office that sold everything from ham and candy to pencils and irish souvenirs. It was only open 3 hours a day. Near the town is the Carrick-a-rede rope bridge. A bridge that is about a foot wide, constructed with rope and wood that hangs 30 meters over the ocean below. Even though I like heights (having bungy jumped and sky dived before), the crossing was quite scary. Locals say they have to helicopter a few people off the island each year because they're too afraid to use the bridge back to the mainland having crossed it once.

From Ballintoy I hiked 13 miles over beaches, rocks, streams, country roads, and cliffs to visit the giant's causeway and into Bushmills to visit the worlds oldest distillery and sample some 12 year old whiskey.

In Belfast, I met many nice people and took a black taxi tour to see the murals and the wall built between the Catholic and Protestant parts of the city. Traffic was really bad because there was a bomb threat on the interstate road on my last day in Belfast.