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Adventures in Ulster!

Ulster is one of four provinces of Ireland, and it is often used when referring to Northern Ireland. I was in Belfast recently, and was informed of this by a kind cab driver who shared suggestions for adventures, restaurants, pubs and clubs, and walking tours of the city. A small group of friends from Lewis & Clark went together, just for a short four days. It was a really spectacular trip, and I will try to recall the best parts for you!          

Thursday was travel day, beginning with a train ride from downtown Glasgow to Stranraer. Stranraer is a small town on the shores of Loch Ryan, and is best know as one of the main ports between Scotland and Ulster. At Stranraer we transferred to a massive ferry for about a two hour trip across the Irish Sea to Belfast. After taking some wind blown pictures on the outer decks, we decided that trying to stand straight was beyond tricky, so we parked ourselves in big chairs at the front of the boat, and just faced forward! It was a pretty rocky ride, but the very pretty too! Thursday night was a relaxed evening because by the time we made it to our accommodations everyone was just ready to eat and have drinks. We were staying very close to Queen’s University Belfast so it was fun to talk with local students, and hear about what we ought to do and see!

On Friday morning Haley and I prepared a big breakfast for the five of us, and we decided to spend the rest of the day exploring downtown. The city center was having a big outdoor market for the holidays, with lots of booths representative of many countries. Lights lined the streets, and there was a tree up in the middle of the market. After plenty of walking around we found our way back home, and spent the night in with a few movies and some delicious Dutch fudge from the market!

Saturday was another big day of sightseeing, but instead of going to the city, we hired a cab tour of the Irish Political Murals that have been painted on buildings throughout Northern Ireland. These murals depict past and present divisions between both religious and political parties. From 1970 over two thousand murals have been recorded. It was helpful to have an informative driver, who let us explore different neighborhoods and was delighted to answer any questions we had for him. By now we were ready for a big meal downtown and enjoyed some lively discussions from the morning. Saturday night brought plenty of shenanigans in the city, ending, naturally, with fresh fish and chips!

We left our cozy rooms mid-morning on Sunday and made our way back to the Belfast-Stranraer ferry, a bus, train, taxi, and home again to Glasgow! I am now back to routine, with a full day of classes yesterday, and a nice dinner with my flat mates. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, so I hope you find yourself with some family and good friends for a little break and a tasty meal!     



26 November 2008