søndag den 14. februar 2010

Everything has been kind of busy. Saturday I went to visit my friend Ally in Edinburgh. Originally I'd planned for my visit to start on Sunday, but I must've looked at the dates wrong when I booked the flights, and so Friday night I realised that my flight was next morning. Luckily he was happy having me over a day early and so Saturday morning I found myself sitting in a taxi going over the hills of Belfast. I wish I could have videofilmed the entire drive, as it was absolutly beautiful. Everything was green and there were snowdrops and daffodils coming out of the ground everywhere. Furthermore there is a lovely view of the entire city and the sea and I enjoyed the talkative taxidriver telling me stories of Belfast and his life so I was almost a bit sad when the trip ended. Anyway, Edinburgh was absolutely lovely! Ally took me on a Rebus tour around the city, which I very much appreciated. Ian Rankin's Inspector Rebus books have captured me ever since my professor in Uni introduced me to Fleshmarket Close and his descriptions of Edinburgh have made me wish to explore this magical city in every aspect possible.
First stop was Arden Street where Rebus is supposed to live.
Next was Fleshmarket Close, an alleyway named after the meatmarked that used to be there and it used to lead to a slaughterhouse. In the book Rebus and DS Siobhan Clarke is called to a pub in Fleshmarket Close because two skeletons have been found in the basement. And it could indeed well have happened. As cool as the close looks, it's also quite creepy as many other Edinburgh closes. Also, a few years back a backpacker fell out of the window of the hostel situated on the corner of the close and died... creeepy!
Sunday we went to visit Ally's dad who lives in an incredible old Victorian house. Ally and his dad watched football and I had a chat with Ally's lovely sister Peggy. After dinner a visit to The Oxford Bar was required in order to complete the Rebus tour. And on the way there seightseeing galore at Edinburgh Castle.
The Oxford Bar was so much different from what I had expected and very cool. It was tiny and with wooden interior everywhere. Sadly my phone had run out of battery so i couldn't take any photos, but I think these photos might give you an idea of it.
The handsome man in front of the sign is Ian Rankin who we, sadly, didn't run into.

Monday was Glasgow day, but we did have time to climb Arthurs Seat which is situated not far from Ally's house. It took us about 20mins to make our way to the top, but it was worth it. It was beautiful and you could see all of Edinburgh.

In the afternoon we went to Glasgow to see Imogen Heap at the ABC. I'd very much looked forward to this event and she didn't let me down. Once again I was impressed by her musical skills and charm and I think Ally quite enjoyed himself as well. She played for a good 1hour and 45 mins yet it seemed like no time had passed when it was over. If you get a chance, do go and see her, she is amazing.

Tuesday we did a bit of sightseeing around Edinburgh and we found the most wonderful childrens bookstore, where I purchased Anne of Green Gables, The Secret Garden and The Adventures of Pippi Longstocking - all for 15 pounds, not a bad deal at all.
And after a curry at the Mosque kitchen it was time to go back to Belfast.

torsdag den 4. februar 2010

Vintagy Belfast

So on my second day in Belast I went out for a walk to explore my new hometown...
In the city centre there are a lot of indie shops with vintage clothes, records and comics - one more lovely than the other.

I stumbled across BackBeat in a backalley, a very neat little recordshop selling secondhand records. It seems like one ot those places where the owner knows everything about every band on the planet.
I shall be looking forward to browse through it all very soon.

And even though that back alley seemed a bit shifty it had another very cool shop; an old candy store branding it self as the oldest candystore in Belfast, still producing Victorian style candy. I will definitely be going down there to try the Titanic sweets - because supposedly "they will make your teeth sink"!

Since a large part of the population are Catholics, there are many shops around with Christian symbols, books and figurines. Since it's not really a phenomenon we see often back home, I find it a bit amusing. Still the background scenary all the churches and chapels provide around Belfast is very picturesque and lovely.

St.Anne's Cathedral is one of those lovely buildings. It was built in 1904 as a Catholic church for the Church of Ireland and has a beautiful Celtic Cross on the North side.
It has given name to the Cathedral Quarter.

One of the things I really like about Belfast is that it is surrounded by hills. Everytime you look up the end of a street you will see the tops of the hills. I am yet to experience a very sunny day here, but at the moment I'm enjoying the sort of fairytale look the clouds and the fog gives the top of the hills.
I can see the hills from my window too, which is very lovely. Hopefully, I'll be able to go hiking up there very soon.

Close to the Cathedral by the docks you'll find what I think is the funniest little impersonation of Big Ben in London. The Albert Memorial Clock on Queens Square was constructed between 1865 and 1870 and is a memorial to Queen Victoria's Prince Consort, Prince Albert. It is a mix of French and Italian Gothic style and was damaged in a Provisional Irish Republican Army bomb explosion in 1992, but has now been restored and looks lovely with trees and fountains surrounding it.

On my walk I found a whole bunch of vintageshops selling clothes. I must admit I have no clue to what streets they are on, but here are a few pictures from some of them.

There are so many pretty dresses and funny little things around those shops, and it's rather cheap, so I shall definitely be frequenting these shops as much as possible.
Also, we have a Primark.. Woop. Cheap, amazing and cheap!
I found this cool jacket I am thinking of buying one of these days.

onsdag den 3. februar 2010

Glorious Belfast

The History of Belfast

The site of glorious Belfast, or in Irish Béal Feirsde - meaning Mouth of the Fords or Mouth of the Sandbars, has been occupied since the Bronze Age. However, it wasn't till the 17th century it became a substantial settlement and part of Ireland, when Sir Arthur Chichester established it as a town. The settlers were mainly Protestant English and Scottish migrants and as the years went by Belfast grew to become a a commercial and industrial centre of the 18th and 19th centuries. Especially the linen, ropemaking, tobacco, heavy engineering and shipbuilding businesses were thriving and by the end of the 19th century Belfast had grown larger than Dublin. The Harland and Wolff shipyards, of Titanic fame, became one of the largest shipbuilders in the world. Belfast was however, heavily bombed during WWII and large parts of the city were destroyed.
Since the Government of Ireland Act from 1921 Belfast has been the capital of Northern Ireland and has as a result been the scene of many violent episodes of the sectarian conflict between Roman Catholics and Protestants. The violence peaked between 1969 and 1990 in what became known as The Troubles. Rival paramilitary groups formed on both sides and bombs, shootings and violence became everyday life. In total over 1500 people were killed in political violence in Belfast from 1969 to 2001.
As some of you know, I did my Bachelors thesis on this subject and how the conflict has affected the Northern Irish Identity, so I will probably comment more on this subject in other blogs.

Anyway, that's sort of the basic history of Belfast, lots and lots is missing, but if you wish to dig further into the subject I recommend the dvd Belfast The Birth of a City
featuring the awesome Joe Curran. James, one of my roomies, and I had a great laugh over the dvd and mr Curran yesterday. Nevertheless, the dvd was very informative and enjoyable.

Now, to my personal experiences so far in the glorious city of Belfast...

This is a map of the centre of the city. The red dot near the bottom of the map is where we live.
It's right behind the beautiful Queens University and the botanical gardens creating quite a wonderful scenery for my morning walks. It take about 20mins to get to City Hall, shown on the picture above, which is where you'll find the High Street with fancy shops and great cafés. Our house is right in the student area of town and therefore there are a lot of bars and restaurants. Queens Radio is also situated here.
The city is full of beautiful old houses, many built in the Victorian area, just like our house. And especially the docklands with the old wharfs are cool.