Our trip through Northern Ireland has been amazing. The sights we’ve seen over the last few days have been incredible. Although, the timing of our stay has been a little unfortunate. On our last night, we wanted to head in to Belfast, to see the City and do one of the taxi tours which have been recommended. However, we were there on the 11th and 12th July. Significant dates if your a Protestant in the country.
Parties are held, and gigantic bonfires are lit on the 11th as part of the Protestant celebrations, and we read that that they signify the arrival of William of Oranges ships during the battle of the Boyne in the 17th Century. On the 12th, the Orange order marches take place, which some Catholics see as provocative. The week leading up to these two days is always marred by violence, with petrol bombings reported on the news. In all honesty, we know little about the ‘troubles’ apart from many lives have been lost on both sides and tensions are still high, especially during this time of the year. We were advised not to travel in to Belfast, and with that, we stayed just on the outskirts in a town called Carrickfergus.
Union Jacks have been on show in most of the places we have visited, and Carrick Fergus was no different. For us Brits it felt quite strange. On one hand, it made us feel like we were at home, but on the other, the flags are a sign of territory. I must say, we didn’t see any trouble at all in our time here and we were made very welcome. Although, I can’t help but think that a lot of people are put off visiting the beautiful places we’ve seen in the North as they are worried by what they’ve seen on the news.
Apart from a few boy racers and the occasional fireworks, we had a good sleep. We were parked up just outside a council ran campsite along with another van. So, the next morning, we got ourselves ready for the ferry to Cairnryan. With the 12th being a Bank Holiday in Northern Ireland, the roads were empty and we got to the ferry port in no time. Our crossing was going to be relatively quick, especially compared to previous ones as it was only 2hr 20 long. Once aboard, we had a quick nosey around the ship. It’s at that point I spotted that there was a Spa on board. The cogs started ticking and without Sarah knowing, I booked us both in for a massage. What the heck, we might sink half way across.
I was looking forward to using the shower as much as the massage to be honest but it made for a really relaxing trip and a nice treat for us both. The fluffy dressing gown was possibly a step too far, for me anyway. 😛
Before we knew it, we were down in Gerty again, having landed in bonnie Scotland. We had such a good time in Ireland (Republic & Northern) the weather, visiting family and the stunning scenery making for a great trip. We’ll just have to add Belfast to the long list of future ‘City breaks’ that we are compiling.