Sunday, April 4, 2010
Here we are at out last holiday stops on our long journey. From this point we will make our way back home. A trip to Dublin tomorrow. The following day a flight to Seville and a train ride to Madrid. The next day a flight to Frankfurt, a final flight to Toronto and then a car ride back to Alliston, home at about 7 on Wednesday. Our last places visited included a quick three day visit to Belfast and from there decided to head for the north coast and ended up in Portstewart.
Belfast was an eye opener. It is interesting being in a city which has very recently ended years of violence, violence that goes back 300 years. The peace accord has been signed but it will take a generation for it to become part of the fabric of society. Our guide for the city tour says there is no black and white explanation for the long hostilities and trying to divide it down Catholic and Protestant lines is too simple and only reinforces the stereo typing that went on. Our guide pointed out the changes that the violence forced on the city, such as the streets blocked off and the the police stations that look like military compounds but at the same time told us stories of peace that ran against the violence there. My favourite story was of First Presbyterian Church in Belfast. This group of Christians Protestants heard that the Catholics were thinking about building a place of worship. The congregation believed that every person deserved a place of worship nor matter their denomination and went about raising money for this. In the end they donated half the funds required to complete the church. This was indeed a refreshing thing to hear about and see.
Portstewart was also refreshing. It is not unlike Wasaga Beach, it has the largest beach in Northern Ireland and is an area known for it's surfing. It has a long promenade that runs past the harbour with many shops and restaurants. You can choose a variety of coffee shops to sit and have a mug while looking out over the sea. It was cold here but the rain held off for the most part and we were able to walk half the length of the beach, travel to Portrush for some fun and make our way out to the Giants Causeway. We were told that you haven't visited Ireland until you have seen the Giants Causeway, well we have visited Ireland, it took about 20 minutes. Portstewart is know for more then its beach, the biggest in Northern Ireland, it is also known for the last motorcycle road race in Great Britian. I have always loved the way things are qualified as we have been on this trip.
Qualifying makes things that are not quite as important a little more important and it is a lot of fun. In Dublin we had the Connolley bridge that was as wide as it was long making it the heaviest bridge in Ireland, we assumed that was only in the Republic. Bushmill has the tallest 'rope' bridge in Norther Ireland. Dublin also has the tallest all metal statue in the Europe. Luang Pro Bang has the longest 'series' of falls in Asia. Madrid has the the largest 'pulpit' made from 'one' piece of wood. Munich has the tallest statue made of 'white' marble, and so on. Our favourite was the 'tallest', 'bronze', 'equestrian' statue in all of Germany, I can't remember where. We are assuming from this that there are taller statues in Germany but they would not be bronze nor would they be equestrian or maybe both. It is fun having the biggest and best of something, like being the 'potato' capital of 'Ontario.' Well, I am looking forward to being back in Alliston with the finest people in the world, no qualifications necessary!