Thursday, July 10, 2014

Derry, Northern Ireland

Of course i need to do a vacation recap. It is too hard to do while we are in the midst of vacating.

1. The Peace Bridge pedestrian crossing of River Foyle.
Why Ireland? I was asked that quite a lot. No, I'm not Irish. I think the first time I ever saw a photo of the Giant's Causeway, I knew we had to go see that and K agreed. We'd hoped to visit Ireland the very first time we went to the United Kingdom way back in 2004 but quickly realized that there were so many places to enjoy in England, Wales and Scotland that it didn't make sense to cram in Ireland and Northern Ireland too.  So we waited and waited.

2. The Runner, bogside Mural.
3. Dark lava rock and beautiful bluey green fescue.
The Troubles are a long and complicated part of Ireland and I think as an American, I really cannot explain all the nuances. I will just say that The Troubles although settled with a 1998 Peace Accord still is very much present as recent history even those events that took place a century ago or more. That is very recent history to be sure.

I chose to base our explorations of Northern Ireland from Derry (Londonderry technically). Why Derry and not Belfast? Derry has intact medieval city walls and a very interesting history plus an easy access to the Antrium Coast and the Giant's Causeway.

We got in very late Saturday and drove towards Derry. I expected a lot of traffic and was surprised by how very little traffic there was. That was true of most of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Yes there were rush hours in main cities but in general, very little traffic. After such a long day of (delayed) travel, we opted to sleep in a bit. The sites we were visiting required time to appreciate and I didn't want to be so tired.

good call.  I did go out for an easy exploratory run before breakfast, of course!

And The Giant's Causeway, Dunluce Castle and Derry itself was amazing!

1. The Peace Bridge connects the more traditionally Catholic older side of town with the Protestant newer side of the river (Watertown). It's a pretty stunning sinuous bridge. there are pedestrian/bike trails on either side of the river.

2. Free Derry and Bogside Murals. The murals and peaceful atmosphere of these streets at dusk Sunday evening made me teary. What terrible events happened here so many years ago. We walked by flats where kids were playing outside now and that was a poignant reminder of what a toll this history must have taken on generations.

3 & 4. The Giant's Causeway has multiple trails that are always open. We did a harder overlook trail and then added on an out and back trail which just had spectacular views. It helped that the weather was amazing. I would love to go back and hike/(ok run) more of these trails. 

4. Giant's Causeway

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