Last weekend we flew out to Belfast for a weekend in the company of Dr. M, who, thanks to work commitments, has been out there for the past 9 months. Anyway, as I've never set foot on Irish soil (neither Nationalist nor Republican), and as we've not seen him for a while, we allowed ourselves to be stiffed by Flybe.
After spending Friday evening dining in his fancy docklands flat, we spent the whole of Saturday pacing the streets of central Belfast. Accompanied, unsurprisingly, by persistent rain. Among other sights, we took in the Salmon of Wisdom, the botanic gardens and Ulster Museum, before having a great meal out (inappropriately enough) in a Japanese restaurant.
Sunday saw us heading out of the city to the northern coast and to (quelle surprise!) the Giant's Causeway. Which, amazingly, we actually got some great weather for. The skies weren't exactly azure, but we had practically no rain, and it was great for photographs. We also took in a slightly shaky rope bridge, Carrick-a-Rede, to a nearshore island with views over to Scotland. The latter came as quite a surprise - despite looking at maps my whole life, it never occurred to me that the gap between N.I. and Scotland was narrow enough to see across.
In passing, in spite of the province's well-earned reputation, we didn't really come across anything (beyond an extensive museum exhibition) that reminded us of The Troubles. We did deviate slightly down a side street to see a few murals, but the ones we saw mostly referred to sportsmen rather than an armed struggle. This near-absence of any signs of sectarian strife was largely down to us avoiding areas where it was still (understandably; up to a point) contentious, but it also goes to show how normalised things have become. At least on the surface.
Anyway, needless to say, no end of photographs were taken. As well as a few movies - including one that documents our near-miss with the sea at the tip of the Giant's Causeway.