Northern Ireland: Belfast

Belfast Travel Blog

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25th March 2007

Belfast, Northern Ireland

Current Mood: Drunk

Category: Travel and Places


B'Jasus Mary Mother and Joseph, as my mother would say, I've arrived back from Ireland… for about the 20th time. I have Irish parents you see, which means twice a year I'd be dragged against my own will to visit my mothers side of the family who happened to live in what seemed like the remotest part of the world. Each time we'd arrive there I'd be dumped on a sand play pit to keep myself amused, or I would play with the pet dog Skippy. Incidentally, Skippy almost changed his appearance every time we visited Ireland. The thing was, Skippy had this nasty habit of running under the tyres of passing cars and dying. But fear not, the family would swiftly replace him and rename the new dog, yep you guessed it, Skippy. I think they're on Skippy number four now. Anyroad, the last time I was in Ireland I was 16 and with a mate. We ended up getting fined and barred from a hotel for streaking through it as you do when you're absolutely blitzed. But that's another story. As for this one...

A lot of you know my sis Maz and I were trying to score some plane tickets to celebrate Paddy's day in
New York but unfortunately, well for me anyway, she managed to secure a temporary well paid job over the Paddy day period and New York would have to celebrate without us. We asked them to cancel but they refused, spiteful bastards. So it was to be that I was to spend Paddy's weekend in Ireland ��" oh the drag. And I was flying out on my birthday too with some serious age issues. I'm getting old! How do I know this you ask? Cos my ma' bought me socks! I shouldn't be getting socks for at least another 15 years, it's the sort of present I'm meant to get my Dad, not receive from other people. Bah! Before long I had left sunny London looking cooler than a snowman's gonads wearing my top had and sunglasses only to arrive in Belfast looking like an underdressed idiot what with their unpredictable snowstorms and shitty weather. Some things never change, the weather that is ��" not me looking like an idiot. I did have some fun on the flight though. As we all know, flights can be a boring piece of work at the best of times so it's only smart to bring along some reading material. I've learned from experience that passengers and cabin crew don't take too kindly when you pull out a porno mag to have a butchers at during a flight and so had to make do with a Lonely Planet Guide for Budapest. 'Ay up' I thought, I could have some fun here. So I sit back facing the isle cos there were loads of free seats and held the book up nice and high for everybody to have a proper good ganders at it's front cover displaying 'Budapest'. I could almost hear the passenger's brain behind their worried faces saying 'Chroist, I taught we're on a floight to Belfast'. See the attempted Irish accent there? It's easy ��" just add lots of o's. After that I decided to enter a comatose state for the long haul one hours flight journey oop north… and a little to the left.


Now I've never been to University, in fact the closest I've been was when I applied to Oxford for a laugh (see Oxford Application Blog), but courtesy of Queens University who fully paid for my trip I landed in one piece at Belfast Airport which I've since found out was the airport which, as a pup, sat on the luggage collection conveyor belt and disappeared behind the wall (see Prague Blog)


In Belfast, which is really bloody small I'll add, I got my bearings around the city before meeting back up with Maz and hitting the bars to get trollied for my birthday ��" with my luggage still on my back. Can't really remember too much from that point except for meeting a load of fellow AA members from Australia, hi Jed, and America, hi Kira, and loads of other name's that escape me like Houdini from a cardboard box. Yes, that easily.

After the previous days antics of seeing
Belfast it soon occurred to Maz and I that if we wanted to see the real Northern Ireland we would need to get hold of a set of wheels. Something quick, something stylish, something flash, a set of wheels that you could tear around Belfast with the wind in your hair. So we rented a couple of bicycles. We set off then on our new wheels and headed for the infamous Shankill Road and me not having been on a bike, at least one you have to peddle, for over 6 years you can imagine I done my fair bit of wobbling. So much so, that if you measured up all the wobbling I did I could have probably cycled to Shankill and back by the time I got there. And it was fucking windy too! I'm used to having the weight of a 650cc engine sitting under my knackers so when a gust of wind came along I'm expect an E.T moment to happen with me being carried off into the sunset screaming 'bugger what the little green freak wants, put me back on the ground'. But eventually we got to Shankill which has seen some serious shit over the years. Let me brief you quickly, and probably incorrectly. The Protestants who lived on Shankill didn't like the Catholics, and the Catholics who lived on the Falls Road weren't too keen on the Protestant either. In fact in comparison, they made President Bush and Saddam Hussein, when the twat was alive, look like best buddies pumped full of ecstasy pills. Incidentally these two roads are only half a mile apart and are thus neighbours. So they bombed and shot each other to fuck. I mean all of us have at one stage an annoying neighbour, but that's a bit extreme even by my standards. What ever happened to letting your dog shit on their front lawn? Anyroad, we cycled into Shankill and it's definitely one of those things you have to see to take in. Houses were painted with murals of 'fallen soldiers', moments of warring history, symbolic badges, and one infamous mural of a fella in a balaclava pointing a gun which followed you no matter where you stood. Imagine waking one Sunday morning and stepping outside to collect your milk for you cornflakes and seeing that plastered on the side of your house.


Leaving Shankill Rd without any bullet holes, and accomplishment worthy on a Blue Peter badge in my opinion, we headed towards the Falls Rd but now before going through the gates on what is known as the Peace Wall. I told you earlier these two streets don't get along, well someone in office who must have been sporting a serious hangover at the time of thinking reckoned it would be a great idea to whack up a tall, and I mean a really bloody tall fence between the two streets. I can almost picture his light bulb moment sitting bolt upright from his chair saying 'I know how we can solve these entire problems ��" I'll build a fence!'. Falls Rd was more of the same and with the wind and rain in our faces we peddled our way towards a boozer.


And so the days consisted of lots of drinking in bars that were absolutely packed beyond belief. One in particular was like that Guinness Book of Records of 'how many people can you fit into a mini? I think the Chinese hold that one ��" they're small people aren't they and could possible be the missing evolution link to the Irish leprechaun. Anyroad, I've been in busy bars and bars that are busy, which is the same thing when you think about it, and was seriously considering the trick of calling the telephone behind the bar and asking staff to make an announcement that 'Can Paddy go home immediately ��" there's a family emergency'. That would have emptied up the bar a bit.


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photo by: vulindlela