Wednesday 16 February 2000
Highlights: Walking tour of Belfast, City Hall, Guinness.
Today we went on the Lonely Planet’s first walking tour of Belfast. While this tour had frequent rain luckily for the most part it was while we were undercover. The highlights of the tour included the leaning clock tower in honour of Queen Victoria’s husband and the tour of the Belfast City Hall.
The free tour of the city hall included access to the great hall and council chambers. Like in Glasgow, wealthy locals (this time Protestants) spent money on the building. The tour end with a free post card. Currently the main Unionist party (Protestants) has 13 seats and so does Senn Féin (Catholics) with some other minor parties so no one has a majority. As a result the Lord Major comes from one party and the Deputy from another. Maybe there is some hope of peace if they can make this power sharing arrangement work.
It was finally time to sample the Guinness during a pub tour. We started at Whites Tavern established in 1630, a Protestant pub. A local quickly started up an interesting conversation that included Australia becoming a republic! We then moved down to the ‘Golden Mile’ school is very close to the University.
First impressions are that the Irish, while divided, are very friendly. People talk to you very easily and offer to help when you have problems. I wish religion wasn’t causing this divide.