When you visit Belfast, you'll meet plenty of friendly people and you certainly shouldn't avoid the recent troublesome history of the region, it's a major part of where the modern city of Belfast finds itself. The Belfast of today is a very safe and friendly destination for tourists, with excellent restaurants, a warm welcome and a good pint of cold Guinness as the icing on the cake.
But what to see and what to do?
Whatever else you decide on, it's a cracking good idea to take a tour of some of the literally hundreds of murals that bring to life the struggles that have sculpted this often forgotten corner of the British Isles. And who better to guide you on that trip than someone who lived through those terrible times?
The history of the city is writ large on the houses and the kerbstones. During the 'Troubles', murals, flags and painted kerbstones all had significance to the residents of Belfast. Disregard the signs and the warnings and you could easily find yourself in the wrong part of town. Most of the violence and enmity between the different communities has disappeared now that the province is at peace, but the signs and more particularly the political murals remain.
Bobby Walsh was a taxi driver throughout the Troubles. Together with his business partner Paddy Kane, he runs the best Black Taxi tour company in Belfast. Bobby tells the story of Ireland and particularly Northern Ireland from the perspective of someone who has lived through a turbulent period of recent history. His depth of knowledge and his fascinating personal insights make this trip a must do.
I lived in the London area throughout those turbulent times and whilst I had a fairly good grasp on what had been going on, I am ashamed to admit that I didn't realise that one of the major catalysts for the civil rights movement in 1969 was the fact that many adult members of the Northern Ireland community were not entitled to vote.
Paddy makes a serious subject interesting and engaging. Don't miss out.