A Trip to Belfast

Sam Astorga
February 23, 2017

I was told by an Irish peer in my history class that Dublin is the warmest place in Ireland, and I found that hard to believe until I went north. I truly felt that winter had come by the time I made it up there as the cold and the 40 mile per hour winds blew straight through my feeble L.A.  bones.

We left on Friday, and our first stop was the peace wall. It seems contradictory that peace coincides with a wall. The graffiti reminded me of the old Berlin walls in many ways. A common theme throughout my journey was wondering how to comprehend these various remnants of the troubles and divides that still separate Belfast. I felt out of place for the most part as an American trying to take a side or deconstructing this conflict.

Moving forward, we drove down some of the streets aligned with the political groups such as the Falls and Shankill. These roads were lined with murals of paramilitary soldiers, soccer players, and the occasional author (I even saw one of John Steinbeck).

On Saturday, we visited sights like the Giant’s Causeway, which I really enjoyed and took some great pictures of. While I will always love Dublin the most out of all of Ireland, I will admit that the Northern Irish countryside has such a special way of touching the sea along the coast.

In terms of food, a lot of the Irish cuisine was similar like Guinness stew, fish and chips, and chicken goujons (it’s like chicken tenders with a highbrow name, adds to the taste if you ask me). One very interesting place we went to was the Cosmo buffet, which had an eclectic variety of dishes from around the world. Personally, I felt their dumplings were decent, and their sushi was subpar, but I really found their curries and deserts quite delectable. The chocolate fountain struck me with awe, and like most chocolate in Ireland, it truly was sweeter than anything in America.

Overall this trip offered great sights, food, and a rich history. But seeing a lot of this made me reflect on the Troubles and northern Irish history. In my early modern Ireland class, we have discussed the Ulster plantations and how the settlers made fortified walls to keep the Irish Catholics off their land, and amidst the green beauty behind the Giant’s causeway, these walls in the countryside are still visible. This juxtaposition saddens me because I really do not know what to make of this long standing history of oppression and violence on both sides. But throughout the trip I could feel these vibes in the background.

As nice as Belfast was, I am glad to be back in Dublin, where it is just peace love and literature along the Liffey.

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Sam Astorga

<p>Greetings, welcome to my blog! My name is Sam, and I grew up in South Pasadena as well as books. I am majoring in history and minoring in Russian language at Occidental College, but I always dreamed of studying Irish history and literature. This semester I am going to attend the Trinity College Direct Transfer program.</p>

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