Showing posts with label belfast. Show all posts
Showing posts with label belfast. Show all posts

14 July 2008

Marching Season in Belfast

It's marching season in Northern Ireland at the moment, with various parades taking place across the country culminating in a huge parade and celebration on the Twelfth of July.

Bonfire Night
In the days leading up to the Twelfth huge structures are made out of pallets and timber which are then decorated with flags and banners. I walked past this one on the way to work everyday, and there were even bigger towers in other parts of the city:

On the night of the Eleventh the structures are torched amidst music, drinking and general celebrations. We weren't sure if it was a good idea to go along to one of the bonfires, we'd heard from some people that things could get a bit out of hand. Karim, Owen and I decided to take the chance, but it was a little bit worrying when the first people that we came across on the street yelled out to us "what are you, Catholic or Protestant?" I shouted back "the same as you" which is always the correct response in such a situation. Hearing my accent they came over to talk to us and turned out to be nice (and also drunk). They advised that if anyone else asked we should say we were Protestant.

The rest of our walk was uneventful as we went to meet up with some of Karim's friends before going on to the bonfire. They were nice but spoke French most of the time which meant I didn't have many conversations with them, although that didn't really matter once we got to the bonfire:

After the bonfire we all headed into town. There was a strong police presence, with lots of armoured police trucks driving around but everyone seemed fine and we didn't see any signs of trouble at all, which is always a good thing.

Twelfth of July
The huge parade on the Twelfth went for hours, with thousands of people lining the streets to watch the Orange Order marching through the city. Owen and I went to check it out but didn't stay for the whole thing.

If you would like to see more photos, check out my flickr page.

10 June 2008

At the Minute in Belfast

Everything is coming together quite nicely in Belfast, where Owen and I have been for the last couple of weeks. We stayed at a backpackers in town for the first couple of nights, and shared a dorm with a group of drunken men on a stag party the last night.

We also spent one night in a motel out in the country since I hadn't realised the exact location when I booked online! It was a bit of a mission to get to and involved a bus ride with many missed stops, an encounter with a rodent of unusual size, and finally a taxi ride when it turned out we had been travelling in the wrong direction for quite some time.

We found somewhere to live fairly quickly, and moved into our new place in South Belfast near the university almost straight away. We're sharing the house with a couple of French guys, both of whom speak good English and are really easy to get along with. I'm hoping I might have an opportunity to learn some more French!

Although we haven't had a lot of time or money for sightseeing, we did manage to take a bus tour of the city. It was very interesting to go through the areas that were really volatile during the Troubles and have a look at the peace wall and some of the political murals:

It's been a bit of a shock to the system starting work on Monday after six weeks of holiday! I'm working for a funding agency doing administration and data entry. The hours are reasonably flexible, the work isn't overly demanding and it is certainly good to be earning money again. And I'm going to need every cent I can get with all the travel plans we have for the next few months!