Weekend Trip to Londonderry


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Published: October 20th 2014
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Some highlights of the past week:

Monday morning, the Principia Consortium (the program that I am a part of while studying at the University of Glasgow) organized a field trip to the Old Govan Church. It was a very cool building and grounds; we got a personalized tour for our group and got to explore everything. The site has a very interesting history; it has been a church for an incredible amount of time. The current building is the fifth church to be built in this location.

Tuesday evening, Sabrina, Henriette, Ashlee and I went to the Royal Theatre to see the opera Cinderella by Rossini. While we were all a bit underwhelmed by the costumes, the general performance was very great and the experience was quite a lot of fun. There were some interesting variations between the story line of the Rossini versus the Rogers & Hammerstein or Disney versions which are arguably more well-known by a contemporary audience. They had super-titles, which were very helpful since they translated the Italian singing into English. I thought it would be hard to watch the words and the action on stage at the same time, but I quickly adapted and it was not a problem at all.

Thursday night after our bagpiping lecture, my flatmates and I went to the greens in Glasgow, where they were having an Oktoberfest party. It was interesting to compare this more "authentic" experience to the one at the GUU which had been largely Americanized. The band was very good, and they played a lot of fun music. We had gotten a groupon which included "Bavarian sausages," which I wasn't too thrilled about, but I was incredibly hungry. It looked like a hot dog and so I told myself that it was just a hot dog in order to force it down, even though the taste was quite different and I wasn't too thrilled. I then quickly washed it down with some fries.

The next morning, Friday, I left for my weekend trip to Northern Ireland. That was also the day of dad's birthday as well as my cousin Sam's wedding, so I was sad to be away from the family that day. I would have loved to be able to celebrate Dad's birthday, and Sam and Karla's wedding with everyone, but it simply wasn't an option. It was quite a trek to get there; I had to walk to the Glasgow Central station, take a train to Prestwick airport, take an airplane to Northern Ireland and then take a taxi to the hostel. When I finally arrived, I got settled in and then went to check out the town of Londonderry a bit. Looking for a cool place to eat, I was soon met with a light rain so I went into the nearest Subway and had dinner there instead. Content to go back and relax and work on homework, I retired to the hostel ready to rest up for the big day the next day. I got lucky that night, and had the entire four-person hostel room to myself.

Saturday morning, I got up and took a hike to the Londonderry Welcome Centre, to redeem my ticket for the double decker bus tour that I had booked (and paid for) as well as board the bus from this location. When I went to exchange my ticket at the desk, the woman explained that the tours had actually shut down for the season about a week ago. I wasn't sure, then, why they sold me the ticket in the first place, but they did give me a refund which was appreciated. Instead, I decided to book a walking tour which started about an hour and a half after I checked in. So, I checked out a local mall and walked around before heading to the site of the walking tour. It was an incredibly interesting tour; the divisive relationship between the Protestants and Catholics that has plagued the area for so many years really has a tremendous impact on the city, and you can feel that many of these wounds are just beginning to heal. This is a conflict that has been going on for hundreds of years, and has most recently been exacerbated in the 1960s. We took a walk around the walls of the city; this is one of the only completely walled cities in Europe. I was surprised to see that the walls were more of a pathway, so we were actually able to walk on the walls. The tour guide, an older gentleman, was so interesting to listen to, because a lot of the stories he told were within his lifetime and you could tell that he had a personal connection to all of the events that had transpired. Once the tour got out, I redeemed the free cup of tea that came with the walking tour and then grabbed a bite to eat before heading to another mall (I am currently obsessed with Primark, a clothing store in the UK). I then decided that I wanted to walk around the entire perimeter of the wall, because we had only done a portion of it on the tour. I walked around, stopping at a very cool cathedral on the way. I walked around the perimeter much faster than I had anticipated, revealing the small size of the city itself. Then, I walked to the Peace Bridge, which was constructed across the river as a way of bridging the historically Protestant and Catholic areas. Just at this moment, the rain picked started and picked up as I was crossing the long bridge. Determined to walk across the entirety, I pushed through the wind and rain. My pants were completely soaked, but I was so glad to have my raincoat and boots. As soon as I got back to the side of the bridge where I started, the sun came out and the rain ceased, causing an extremely beautiful and compete rainbow to form on the other side of the river. I walked back to the hostel to relax a bit before dinner and then eventually retiring for the evening. The hostel was at the top of two very steep streets, so my legs got quite the workout that day. All in all, it was a very cool day in Londonderry and what started out as a very frustrating moment turned into a very nice experience.

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