We had a guided driving tour around Belfast this morning. We saw the "peace fences" that were built in some suburbs around the City to separate Irish minded residents from English supporters. One fence was three times higher than the Berlin Wall. Some have been removed and the government has reached an agreement that all of the fences will be removed by 2023. We also saw a lot of political murals on walls around the city. The artwork commemorated people who had been killed during the "troubles". We saw an old police station that looked like a fortified prison. Nowadays things have changed and they don't build them like that anymore. The police service was overhauled and is now accepted by all areas of the community.
We were taken to the dry dock where the Titanic was built. There is an exhibition there now and the building looks like a star from above and the four points of the star look like the prow of a ship and the building is approximately the height of the Titanic. It was a very impressive building. The exhibition is really well set done and very informative. There is even a little ride where you get into a pod that spins around and goes in and around different areas of the ship building process. They had voice over from "workers" and where things were hot you could feel the heat coming off them. It was fabulous! The other great feature was a glass floor that's looked like you were standing over the wreck. The "water" under your feet moved so you saw different things on the the bottom of the ocean floor from the wreckage.
From there we drove to Downpatrick which is the place of St Patrick's grave. We saw a film at the visitors centre there and then went to the gravesite which is marked by a massive slab of rock with "Patrick" chiseled into it. Legend is that St Bridget and St Columba are buried there also. We had a quick lunch of the most delicious Irish stew and then it was back on the coach to head to our hotel for the next 2 nights in Dublin.
Our hotel is really lovely and there is a massive mural of Bono from U2 on one of the walls. Michael and I got to our room and did some washing and got ready for our night out at a traditional Irish evening. About 15 minutes before we were due to leave Mum calls our room to see if we had received our bags as they were still waiting for theirs. They had called reception and they were "looking into it". The worst part was that they had gotten to their room, had showers and washed all the clothes they had been wearing today so they had nothing to go out in. I found Annemarie before we boarded the coach and was just explaining that Mum said to go without them but Annemarie said she would sort it out. It was at that point I turned around and saw Dad heading towards the coach and I said to her "Oh there's Dad and thank goodness he has clothes on." Their bags had finally arrived 5 minutes before we were due to leave.
Our traditional Irish dinner and show was at Taylors Three Rocks which has a bar attached to the room the show was in. It was a huge room and the building has been on the land as some sort of bar, hotel, restaurant since 1640. The Irish dancers were absolutely amazing and one girl sang and played the harp. She had a voice like an angel. There was also a comedian and he had everyone in tears he was just so funny. Another highlight were the children dancers. There was a little girl about 4, one about 8 and a boy who looked about 6 or 7. They were very good and so cute.