Weekend in Belfast - Day 2 - Sensing 'The Troubles'

On Day 2 in Belfast, we returned to St. George's Market for breakfast.  We were greeted by this laser-eyed robot.
We opted for sausages with lots of onions from Greenmount Farm.
We followed that up with a latte from Javaman and slice of coffee walnut cake.  Yum!
Bluesy musicians graced the central seating area.  We could definitely spend the afternoon here regularly.
We continued our walk through town until we arrived at King Street.  Our intention was to catch a black taxi up Falls Road.  We found a cab and drove up the staunchly Catholic Falls Road -- a key site in the "Troubles" that haunt Belfast's past and sometimes trickle into the present.  While the conflict is often painted as a religious one, it's actually political but tends to fall along religious lines.  Catholics tend to favor an independent Ireland while Protestants believe Belfast should remain aligned with the UK.
The cab driver dropped us off at Milltown Cemetery where many members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) are buried.
Those that died in the cause of Irish freedom are treated as martyrs.  The cemetery included a memorial to several freedom fighters that died in prison from a hunger strike that last more that 60 days!
We decided to walk back to town and check out some of the political murals along Falls Road.
I thought this post box was particularly interesting.  You can see that it's red (the color of Britain's mailboxes) but it has been painted green (our mailboxes in Dublin are green).  You can tell where the locals stand from this statement alone.
We walked past the Carnegie Branch of the Public Library on Falls Road.
We then turned off the main road to see the "Peace Wall" that divides Catholic Falls Road from Protestant Shankill Road.
We took a quick stroll through the Garden of Remembrance and were once again reminded of the lengths that people went in the name of Irish freedom.
The murals along Falls Road were a bit jarring.  This one especially hit home:  "No blacks, no dogs, no Irish".
Here's a slideshow of pictures we captured on walk down Falls Road.
We soon arrived back in town and passed the Grand Opera House.
We also passed the Hotel Europa which has the distinction of being Europe's most bombed hotel.
We stopped for soup and a beer at the Crown Liquor Saloon, a classic Belfast establishment.
We got to see a snug first hand.  Belfast is known for pubs with these cozy booths with doors that close for privacy.
The interior of the pub was particularly impressive.  Check out this stained glass by the entry.
We decided to trek out to Queen's University Belfast.  On the way, we saw this weather vane in the shape of a ship.
The university campus was very stately with the Union Jack flying high above the main quad.
A local pub serving Guinness sat right across the street.
We wandered into the Botanic Gardens despite the chill in the air.
There was an impressive Victorian era greenhouse on the property.
We stepped inside to warm up and were impressed by the array of flowers and plants on display inside.
We saw this screaming statue while out and about on campus.
We wanted to see both sides of the story of Belfast's troubled past.  We didn't have time to visit Shankill Road but Sandy Row, a unionist enclave, was on the way back to the bus terminal.
Similar to Falls Road, there were memorials to those that died.
We also saw a range of disturbing murals.  I found the ones on Sandy Row to be scarier in general because of the ski masks that were featured prominently. Chilling.
We covered more than 5 miles on foot exploring Belfast's history and present fortunes before returning back to Dublin.  It was clear that Belfast was still struggling to escape the past.  Our bus was actually delayed and sent on a significant detour because of a bomb threat along the highway.  While the city appeared normal and calm to us -- like any other in Europe, clearly tension still rests just below the surface.

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Sidewalk Safari: Weekend in Belfast - Day 2 - Sensing 'The Troubles'
Weekend in Belfast - Day 2 - Sensing 'The Troubles'
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Sidewalk Safari
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