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Report - Life by Miss Adventure, Belfast



Rookinella

I should have danced all night
28DL Full Member
#1
Grab a cup of tea and some hob nobs because this is going to be a long one.

Day 1
During "the troubles" (see what I did there), my daily forum checking has become less and less eventful due to the inevitable lack of new stuff appearing in the UK so imagine my surprise when a report of the Crumlin Road Courthouse appears one evening. Jaw-dropping ceilings, a vicious fence and a place so steeped in stories that it's every history geek's dream. Just the week before, I'd tried to get over my Cold War obsession by moving onto the troubles in Ireland so it was a scary coincidence that the NI guys had got in here.

Various PMs fly out to relevant people and my the irrational part (is there another side?) of my brain has booked a ticket to Belfast in a week and a half's time. Oh dear god, what have I done? I'm flying several hundred miles away with my foot still in its cast and only my crutches to keep me company-well not quite true, I'm due to meet 9 Irish explorers:p

The week speeds by and Saturday 5am finally arrives-an hour usually reserved for sites that require a dawn attack. There are many bad points about having a broken foot. One in particular is that EVERYONE suddenly becomes an expert on broken bones from the taxi driver, the baggage handler, the "random man reading a crime thriller". All possibly good advice...all completely contradicting eachother:p I just smile and nod and agree to do what they say in regards to my recuperation whilst feeling sick as a dog (hate flying:()

Neeeeeeoowwwwwwwww

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The flight is swift and I'm soon hobbling out to meet BillAnd who apparently is wearing a burgundy jumper. It's not long before I recognise him and we're zooming our way to the first location on the list. I'm given a quick history of Belfast as we drive down through the mountains. I feel like a sponge soaking up all these facts, I want to learn so much in such a short time:eek:

It's here that we meet up with Pacie, Irishmanlost and Slinky2000 and quickly make our way in with no problems.

Crumlin Road Courthouse!

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It coming close to 1pm and stomachs are rumbling with talk of Ulster fry ups but we settle for good old exploring petrol station food in the back of a van. We talk about all things exploring and prepare for the next site of the day. I have my first experience of soda bread:D

"Mmmmmm nom nom nom nom"

"I feel like I've just swallowed a brick:("

Onto to Belvoir Hospital! We park up and scare an old lady. It sunny and bright and the covered walkways remind me of West Park. As we're walking up, we hear the security van driving round so we drop down and hide, almost certain that we had been spotted but luck was on our side.

Belvoir Hospital

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Slinky and Pacie leave us at this point but there's still more to do! It's onto the Cow and Gate factory which is a bit trashed but there's some quality toys left behind:p

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The light is fading but there's some more sites to do so it's down to the docks to visit the Titanic Shipyard. I buy potato farls and then regret it:eek:

"Owww why did you let me eat potato farls?"

"Because you're a tourist"

"My stomach is exploding but they taste so gooooood:eek:"

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Onto the Harland and Wolf cranes! Samson and Goliath are their names and they are huge! You can go up one of them but no doubt, it included stairs and wasn't open at 7pm.

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And finally, Moscow Barracks where we *ahem* made some alterations to the ceiling tiles and rang the fire bell because it was too tempting NOT to:p

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It was getting late now and it was time to say goodbye and find a crazy Irish pub to stay in for the night and I have to say, I was successful:p My foot comes in useful again as I'm given a family room with three beds because the rest of them involve too many stairs-RESULT:D

After a busy day soaking up all the history my brain can handle, I settle in for the night with some more "brick bread" and "The Inspector Lynley Mysteries". I am awoken several hours later by the sound of live music booming up from under my room. I wander downstairs to listen to a jolly man with a guitar playing "Waltzing Matilda" to a pub full of sweary old men. I order a cranberry juice and try my best to blend in, deeply regretting the idea of wearing a short skirt.

It's not long before a red-haired lady starts yelling,

"Fuckin wankarrrees, who tha fuck does eee thaank eee is?"

She walks up to one of the young men standing at the bar and starts prodding him in the chest and turning the air blue. Next thing I know, she's picked up a bar stool and thrown it at him. I am sitting less than 2 foot away at this point so I quickly drain my glass and hobble back upstairs, satisfied that I have experienced a good mini pub brawl.​
 

Rookinella

I should have danced all night
28DL Full Member
#2
Re: Life by Miss Adventure, Belfast REPORT

Day 2 & 3

I wake up feeling achey and still full of yeast-free bread but no rest for this explorer so I nip downstairs to get some tourist guides and manage to lock myself out of my room. The main aim of today is to see some of the murals on the Shankhill and Falls Road-or better still, get a taxi tour! I fail to realise, however, that it's Sunday and businesses don't open until after 1pm if at all.

Bugger. So I'm stuck in a housing estate in the middle of the Falls Road in a bright red coat, crutches and a big ass DSLR. The words, "Are you local" come to mind.... I've seen lots of photos of these murals but seeing them in the flesh makes you go all goose-pimpley. They are literally on every corner and emit such a strong sense of community that I feel every bit the embarrassed tourist.

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The one mural I was after today was the memorial to Bobby Sands but there's only so much limping you can go through before giving up and resorting to public transport.

This is my first experience of black taxis. Hailing one is very easy and as one pulls up, I notice there's already 5 people in the back. I give the drive a strange questioning look and mumble something about the city centre but all I can think of is "sardines". I'm squidged up against a rattling door with a heavy rucksack on my lap and my crutches wedged into my forehead. I feel like I'm going to fall out the car. The payment system is even wierder. Half a dozen people shove their hands across my face and deposit a handful of uncounted change into the driver's hand.

I look out of the window desperately trying to take in all the coloured walls whizzing by my window when WHOOOOOOOSH, there goes Bobby Sands-a mural that only seems to exist when you are in a moving vehicle.

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Once I get into town, I embark on every broken tourist's dream-an open top bus! The tour, if a little repetitive, is informative and light-hearted. The strong accent has me confused at times especially when she says things like:

"Look out for the big whale!"

I crane my neck to try and catch a glimpse of what I imagine to be a big whale-like sculpture but no. To my slight disappointment/embarrassment, she is referring to "The big WHEEL" which is Belfast's answer to the London Eye.

Me in a lift
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The courthouse from the top of the bus
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Heavily protected Orange Lodge
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"The Whore with the Hoop"
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Famous block of flats that was the centre of a lot of the conflict because the British troops used it as a look out post.
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A small bit of peace wall
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Some more murals-I seem to have focused on the negative ones but I promise there are some happy happy ones everywhere too

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On Monday, my visit coincided with that of President Bush and I managed to get some photos of the protest that was going on outside city hall. It just reaffirmed my dislike for anti-war protesters but they made some quite good photos.

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And finally.......

Big photo of "Brick bread"
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A big thanks to everyone who made this adventure so possible and exciting. I am on such a come down now but I feel very much alive.​
 

Rookinella

I should have danced all night
28DL Full Member
#3
Re: Life by Miss Adventure, Belfast REPORT

Two little scallies that wouldn't fit on the same page:mad:

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