Posted by: bkropf | May 16, 2008

Rick Steves Lies

We woke up to the traditional and stereotypical Irish rain the next morning.  I walked around for a bit trying to get my personal time quota filled and bought probably the best chocolate croissant I had ever tasted.


Tyler and Heather were ready to go when I had returned from my walk and we set off to see the city’s multiple noteworthy sites.  First stop: The two largest cranes in the world which built the Titanic.  We walked and walked and I became a little grumpy trying to figure out why we were trying to see some boring cranes (I had seen them from the freeway the day before).  By the time we got some pictures I was pretty wet.  We ducked into a nearby Starbucks for some rest.  It was so nice to be able to be in a familiar place and gather our bearings and thoughts.  I spent most of my time in the bathroom trying use the hand dryer to dry out my coat.


We took off for our second part of the Belfast tour: Shankill and Falls Road.  These roads represent the Protestant and Catholic neighborhoods respectively.  Between the two neighborhoods is a wall referred to as the Peace Wall, because it separates the two groups.  Here is a little history on the Troubles:


For nearly 700 years the British ruled the Irish.  Many times, Irish people rebelled in an attempt to gain their independence.  One idea the British had to better control the area was to move a bunch of British (who happened to be Protestant) to Ireland in the hopes of making the area pro-British.  In a way it backfired in the sense the British took land away from native Irish Catholics to give to the British.  This obviously made many Irish mad, fueling the Irish independence movement.  Eventually, Ireland was able to declare its independence from England, however all the Protestants who had moved over in previous generations from England wanted to remain a part of the United Kingdom.  Sooooo, Northern Ireland remains a separate country, apart of the United Kingdom.  However, naturally, everyone in Northern Ireland is not Protestant or loyal to England.  Over the years the Protestants made life very hard for the Catholics living in Northern Ireland creating a lower class.  This persecution led to all the fighting by the IRA and other pro-Nationalist groups crying out for equality and even better, a united independent Ireland.


As we walked around the Falls and Shankill neighborhoods it was really interesting and a little scary to see all the very passionate murals painted on the side of buildings.  I have pictures of many of the murals posted on my Flickr account (Tyler took the photos).  It was hard for me to imagine how reconciliation and healing can come between the two groups with constant reminders everywhere of the bloodshed caused by others.  While we were in Belfast, Yahoo News actually had an article about Belfast and the current state of the conflict, it was really interesting. You can read it here!


We were all exhausted from all the walking and the sun was out and we ducked into Crown Bar, one of the most famous bars in Ireland.  We looked around a little and then left in search of some Kababs.  We never found an open Kabab shop so we ended up eating at SPUDS (I do not recommend if you ever go to Belfast).


By this point in the evening, the day had become downright gorgeous.  We walked up to the local University to take pictures and check out the Botanical Gardens.  Somehow Heather got stuck in one of the trees.


After the gardens we moved over to a local Pub and tried our first experience of Guinness (in Ireland).  Tyler and Rick Steves had been trying to convince me that Guinness is much better in Ireland because it is fresh and doesn’t ‘travel well.’  I hate to break the news but Guinness tastes just as bad in Ireland as it does in the USA.  I know this is really unpopular but I really don’t like Irish Beer, or Irish Whisky while we are on the subject of Irish things I don’t like.



  1. Toooooo much about 700 years of British rule.

  2. Hey BKropf. Where have you gone? We need a final update.

  3. Yup, a lot of walking went on during those few days…That park was a lot of fun! I like how you make me sound so out there..haha, ” Heather got stuck in one of the trees.”…thats it, no explanation following. I agree with you, Guiness is not enjoyable, Ireland setting and all! Where’s the rest of the posts eh? I’m sitting on the edge of my seat just dying to read about what happens next 😉

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