The first thing we did (after checking in to our Airbnb) was book a Black Cab Ride – where you hire a taxi for 2hours & they drive you around and show you the sites of the two religious groups (Catholic & Protestant). Take note that it is incredibly hard to understand the guide for the first 20-30 minutes as their accent is thick, Irish & rolledintooneword!
First stop on the black cab was the graffiti murals that the two religious groups have created right next to one another, you can see the contrast of beliefs just in the paintings.
Our second stop was the Catholic neighbourhood, we noticed that a few houses had a type of cage over them & we asked why, our cabbie advised it was to protect them from the homemade petrol bombs the Protestant’s haul over the wall during their day of celebration- July 12th.
We were then shown the really dodgy area of the Protestant neighbourhood where it literally looked like Redfern (20 years ago) with kindling, old furniture & crates stacked up in preparation for their annual bon fire celebrations…. The people & the vibe of the place felt rather sketchy…. And he showed us a mural of a drug dealer who killed multiple catholics and was praised upon.
We drove on to look at a few of the murals on the Protestant side & were surprised to see that they have built a wall to seperate the two religious area that is huge & goes for miles. It was cool as we got to write on one of the walls (see photos below).
We then realised our Cabbie was quite biased as he turned out to be a Catholic so he only really took us to the good parts of the Catholic area & babbled on about how the Protestant’s are always bombing, killing & causing havoc to the Catholic’s.
After we saw the two religious areas & the wall he drove us to a certain part where the Protestants march every evening at 6pm on the dot through the city. We also noticed roughly 30 SWAT looking trucks driving around and staking out areas (We have never even seen cars like these in Sydney). We were then told that not too long ago they blew up one during a march in which we were parked in the exact location of the target….. So we politely asked to move on, lol!
We then drove back to the main city centre of Belfast (10mins drive) & were greeted by smiling hipsters, trendy bars & swanky restaurants. We could not believe the juxtaposition of the place!
We also had beers in a very elaborate bar called The Crown, if you think the outside is detailed wait until you go inside.
All in all we really loved Belfast & could not recommend more to anyone thinking or wanting to go- GO!