It’s very chilly and rainy today. I had a lovely full Irish breakfast which will serve me well in the rainy gunky mess keeping me warm. I rode the bus to Derry or Londonderry depending on who you ask. Most Catholic people call their city Derry, Protestants Londonderry. I could definitely tell I was out of the Republic as the signs were just in English. In the republic, the signs were all in English and Gaelic.
(London)Derry from what I can tell is a pretty divided city you have the Protestant side that is on one side of the river, the walled town between the two parts and the Catholic neighborhoods on the west side of the city walls.
The ‘troubles’ are a very sticky wicket. I was told by several travelers who have been to Northern Ireland it is best not to bring the subject up or at the very least let the local person bring it up and only talk about the subject as much as they are willing to discuss. When I worked in London back in the late ’80s, I actually had a friend I had made who was from Northern Ireland. He was a Protestant but was pretty much apolitical. He found the subject depressing (which he said was a big part of his moving to London.)
The old part of the city is surrounded by vast city walls. They are still standing today, and you can walk around on the walls. They offer a fantastic view of the city. The walls were built to protect the English and Scottish Protestant settlers from attacks from the local Catholic population OR a sign of dominance and supremacy used to subjugate and impoverish the local Catholic population depending on who you ask. (maybe both?)
The walls must have been successful the city was never overtaken. The walls enabled you to see both the interior port and the Catholic neighborhoods of Bogside that were below at the bottom of the hill.
I noticed the political murals from the hillside and decided to venture on down and take a closer look. The work was very impressive. Even though the themes very very political, even from an artistic standpoint the work was very good.
Much of the troubles have dissipated a tentative peace survives. The city makes a great tourist location. I hope the calm continues.
So after some sightseeing, I got on the train for Belfast. I apparently didn’t change trains or just maybe got on the wrong train and ended up in a town called Portrush, a coastal city on the Irish Sea. By now, it has really gotten cold and stormy. The city has a very nice beach with lots of sand. Much of the city is built on a peninsula reaching out to the sea. I am staying in a very old Victorian-era hotel that looks like it has seen its better days. My room has a window that actually opens out and I could jump out of it. (Maybe later) My window looks out over the ocean and the sound of the wind, rain, and waves sounds really relaxing. As long as it doesn’t get too cold, I may just sleep with the window open. In the far distance, you can make out some land (Scotland?) There is a street between the hotel and the beach. Directly across the street is a dance club and right next to that is a closed amusement park. The park has a carousel and it is so windy that the air occasionally blows through the pipe organ so a random note is played. (it’s cool and creepy at the same time).
I can’t sleep. The pounding bass from the dance club across the street is making the walls pulsate in unison. I am at the disco whether I want it or not. I sat by my window as the dance club let out. I had the glass open but my sheer lace curtain down and watched everyone exit the club. It was all like a mini-drama there were several aborted fights that always seemed to be broken up by a good Samaritan before it came to fisticuffs. One girl was trying to make her boyfriend jealous. She was being quite the coquette as she flirted with a guy standing next to her. When another guy ( presumptively, the boyfriend) comes out of the entrance and saw her, he came over and pushed the guy and began yelling at both of them. He then grabs her arm and in an almost caveman fashion pulls her away from the other guy. The girl makes a dishrag protestation, and the boyfriend and his quarry speed off in a taxicab. Another couple came out of the club arm and arm but there must have been something simmering within her because seemingly unprovoked she pulls away from him and begins to yell. The man yells back twice as loudly and forcibly and immediately hails a cab and drives off. the girl begins to cry and leans against the wall of the club sobbing. Several other people come out and walk right by her oblivious to her tears. Eventually, an unencumbered female comes out of the door and notices her crying as she walks up to talk to the girl. The two ladies talk a moment and walk across the street to my hotel which has a coffee shop on the ground floor. (I am glad, I felt bad for the girl.)
There’s another couple making out a few feet from the door. Unlike the crying girl everyone who comes out glances over at the necking couple. The pounding Hip Hop has been supplanted by muffled conversations and laughter in the coffee shop below. There are about five or six taxi cabs stalling right in front of the shop. I am guessing the whole dance club, coffee shop thing is a weekly ritual here and the taxi cabs are lying in wait for their revelers. Alright, enough playing I spy. Let’s play I spy some sleep.