Mar 252009
 
Belfast Wheel and City Hall

Belfast Wheel and City Hall

After tree false starts (Michelin guide outdated already) we finally found an open (listed as closed!) Michelin-recommended restaurant in Belfast city called Ginger.  The mains were about ₤8 and dessert ₤5, great value considering the food was absolutely delicious.  (This is for Dave – we had to wait for the chocolate cake dessert to be made and baked – there’s a real chef!)

Leah enjoyed the mushroom risotto and a side of steamed greens, whilst I had the lamb shank and pea shepherd’s pie.  Leah intends to try to replicate that when we finally make it home!  For dessert, it was a sticky toffee pudding and a molten chocolate cake with fresh berries.  All capped off with a lovely house red (Aroma) and a white Sav Blanc (also Aroma) for Leah – both from Chile!

The Windy City

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Mar 232009
 

Greetings from Belfast, aka the windy city!  We’ve been welcomed to the city by a 100mph north-westerly and we’re freezing!

After finding a campsite last night, we rugged up against the wind and rain and had a lazy morning.  We finally made it into the city (on the geriatric express (now there’s a oxymoron) – did you know over 60’s can catch the pink Metro bus for free in Belfast?)  There was so much hairspray and talcum powder on that bus  my eyes were watering (for the record, Julian wrote this!)

From the centre of town, it is less than 10 minutes walk out to Falls Rd and Shankill Rd to see the murals and the evidence of “The Troubles”.  There is  still a huge fence, topped with coils of barbed wire, dividing the formerly Catholic and Protestant neighbourhoods.  It was sobering to read the murals and realise that the IRA and the UVF considered themselves legitimate soldiers in a real war.

Mural on Shankill Road, Belfast

Mural on Shankill Road, Belfast

Belfast itself is an interesting place.  It’s a strange mix of bourgeoning development and retail precincts and housing estates and clearly poor neighbourhoods.

I guess the big news is the recent shooting of 2 soldiers and a police officer near Belfast last week.  There are concerns that the IRA may be reigniting the conflict in the region.  Here’s hoping this is not the case.

Mar 232009
 

A long, long time ago, there was a giant Ulster warrior named Finn McCool.  In order to reach his love on the Scottish island of Staffa, he built a magnificent causeway connecting Northern Ireland with Scotland.

Polygon columns of the Giant's Causeway

Polygon columns of the Giant's Causeway

Unfortunately his causeway was ruined by a rival giant and these are the remains we saw today.

Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland

Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland

Just down the road from the causeway is the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge that connects the mainland with a small island.  Unfortunately the bridge is closed in high winds.  Fortunately for us, the Irish are crazy and have a very different interpretation of what high winds are!

Hanging on for dear life!

Hanging on for dear life!