Well, I'm starting a blog. I've been meaning to do it for some time now, but am just getting around to it. It's an odd thing. Blogging means that you think your life is interesting enough that people will want to read about it. I don't know if this is true, but I figured I would give it a shot anyway. This is a blog about my travels and quest to live fearlessly. Welcome.

- Christina

Monday 8 July 2013

Northern Ireland

     After a blissful 10 days in the Republic of Ireland we headed to Northern Ireland. Many of you, like me, may not know that Ireland and Northern Ireland are two completely different countries. They have different government systems, political leaders, currency, etc. The history behind the split and how it still affects the residents today is fascinating, but we'll talk more about that later. Our first stop was in Londonderry or Derry (the name depends on if you're loyal to the U.K or not). We arrived in Londonderry late and didn't do much except hang out with our host. Our host for the evening was James, a scientist and author. He writes books on phenomena such as Stonehenge and Newgrange and their acoustic/astronomical properties. James was super interesting to talk to, he knew so much on a variety of topics.
     The next day in Londonderry we went to the Bushmills Whiskey Distillery. It is one of the only working distilleries that you can tour. We learned all about how Irish whiskey is made. It was a super cool tour, although the barley smells like sour oatmeal and I was getting a tad woozy. IN the end we were able to try a Whiskey. David tried the distillery's signature blend, which you can only get there. I had a yummy concotion of warm water, cinnamon, honey, and whiskey. It was delightfully warm.
Getting our drink on.
     After the Bushmills distillery we headed to our main Northern Ireland destination, Belfast. Here we stayed with Phil, a seasoned CSing host who's hosted over 300 people over the past 7 years. With Phil was Yanly, a fellow CSer originally from Colombia, but living in London. Our first night in Belfast we attempted to walk around downtown, but it was raining pretty hard and honestly we were just tired. We ended up going with Phil, his son, and Yanly to the movies to see Man of Steel (mmmmmm, Superman). 
     The next day we took Yanly with us to the Giant's Causeway and the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge. Giant's Causeway is a section of beach where the rocks have been shaped by volcanic activity. ALmost all the rocks are perfect hexagrams or octagons. It doesn't look real. We had a fun time climbing around on the rocks, which are the perfect size and shape of climbing, and admiring the ocean. The rope bridge, which is a few miles away, was originally built by fishermen to get to their boats. It was quite smaller than I thought it would be, and in really good condition. The walk across was short, and we were then on a small island. We took our time exploring the island before heading back across the bridge. 
 Giant's Causeway. 

David way up on the top!

Going across the rope bridge.
     On our last day in Northern Ireland we did something awesome (I'm about to geek out for a second). We went to the Game of Thrones exhibition at Titanic Studios- where they shoot! If you don't know what Game of Thrones is, it's a book to TV series and it's pretty much the best thing ever. We had only heard about the exhibition the day before and it was the last day, as well as our last day in Belfast, so we were super lucky- oh, and it was free, awesome. They had a ton of neat GoT stuff, but most importantly we got to sit in the Iron Throne. It was a replica of the one they use on set, but it was still awesome. Anyway, here we are. David looks far too good sitting on the Iron Throne.  
 House Stark banner. 

     The last thing we did in Northern Ireland was also awesome. We met up with my friend Jenni's friends, Kyle and Ashleigh. They took us to lunch at a cute little cafe over a flower shop, which I guess is quite common there. We then went to the Knockage Monument, a war memorial. From atop a hill out can see far out into Belfast and across the coast. Kyle and Ashleigh then took us to a Protestant neighborhood to show us some of the murals painted on houses. Kyle taught us so much about the troubles in Northern Ireland, the conflict between Ireland and Northern Ireland, and between Protestants and Catholics. It was surreal to be in a country that is still deeply segregated by religious beliefs in 2013. Here are some anti-IRA (Irish Republican Army) murals in a protestant part of Northern Ireland. 

If you're interested in the conflicts in Northern Ireland I would definitely look into it. It is a country with so much interesting history. Also, there were no soldiers walking around with guns. We were told to look out for this, but once we got there we learned that hasn't been a common occurrence in ten years. So, that was it for Northern Ireland. We said goodbye to our new friends: Phil, Yanly, Kyle, and Ashleigh and headed back to Dublin to catch our flight to Edinburgh, Scotland. Scotland post will be up soon. 
David, me, Phil, Yanly

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