As a fun weekend trip, I participated in a trip into Northern Ireland-including Belfast and Giant’s Causeway. Before you think that I spent a weekend avoiding the streets and watching my back, I must tell you that I found some of the friendliest people in Belfast. Sadly enough, Ana was not there with me, so i have to spend 2 cold nights without any Spanish Pilates (aka naughty sex).e (As written by my wonderful roommate Ana Maria.)
*Actually, before your minds run away with that comment, I must explain that it is a common joke that the Spanish siesta abroad becomes “Spanish Yoga” and necessary for healthy living. As a joke, Ana and I said that when two Spanish go together it becomes Spanish Pilates.
Back to the real story…..
On day one, on a terrifically stormy and terrible day, we went to Giant’s Causeway. While it is very beautiful and amazing when able to see, the storm prohibited observing the valley and ocean as a whole. Therefore check the weather before you go! If not, protect your camera and go anyway. Never have I seen such peculiar rock formations and a real seal in the wild. Follow up your trip with a hot coffee from the local tourist shop, it warms the toes!
Following Giant’s Causeway, we returned to Belfast, dried up and discovered the streets. One piece of advice for any time abroad: if it looks interesting, go! Seeing a little pizzeria cafe, called Opera, lead my group to meet a very interesting man who told us about Northern Irish culture, lit all the candles in the dining room even though it was off-peak hours, and gave us half priced pizza pies. Since arriving in Ireland I have made it a point to try something I don’t normally want to try. That afternoon it was peaches and ham pizza. Don’t be afraid-it’s delicious!
On our tour, we looked at the graffiti from the Troubles. To outsiders this may be terrifying to see so many guns and hateful messages. But knowing the culture and the history of the area, these serve as a reminder of the death and destruction this type of hatred may bring. This hatred was brought because of the unfortunate occurrences of a lack of comprise and understanding. After so many deaths, the Troubles were ended and Belfast is, as quoted by my tour guide, “one of the top leading peaceful cities in the world.” Unlike our beliefs that Belfast is still a dangerous place to walk about, as long as you don’t spout propaganda you will find the people of Belfast very kind, as I did. In fact, I would recommend many people to travel to Belfast to learn from their history and the people’s reactions to such a violent past. While there, write a message on the peace wall and read what others have written. The peace wall has provided me with a hope that the societies of the world may one day out aside our hatred for menial aspects of life and celebrate our individual talents. Peaceful, standing side by side as our words are written.