Bonfire Weekend

This weekend was/is an interesting one for sure, both personally and culturally in Northern Ireland. I finally moved into my own apartment (a tent was looking like a good option) and have one room in a 5-bedroom house. No one else lives here at the moment which I, of course, love. I’m hoping with all my might that no one else moves in until September when I’ve turned in my dissertation and don’t have to care as much about noisy/messy/horrible flatmates!

Anyways, I moved in and my friend Maria came to visit me. Timing is everything. She’s a few months pregnant and had this weekend off work, so she came down from Norway for a little Ireland time! Unfortunately for her I forgot to mention that this weekend in particular is one of the most, ahem, ‘cultural’ ones in Northern Ireland. This weekend falls over the 12th of July which is when many of the Protestant groups around town celebrate old war victories and burn big bonfires and parade around town blocking traffic.

[For a more comprehensive history of the 12th of July, try google :)]

Basically half of the sane population of Belfast hits the road and gets out of town while the other half stays at home or is out in the street causing trouble. It’s been a pretty dead weekend overall- not a lot of people out and about although the weather has been pretty nice!

Maria and I walked around town on Friday and checked out the big fish, the Titanic Quarter, the Cathedral Quarter and more. Lots and lots of walking! There was also coffee and delicious things to eat, as per the usual. On Saturday we got out of town and hit Giant’s Causeway, where the rain held off long enough for us to enjoy the views.

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It was so green! I guess the rain is okay sometimes. We snuggled down for some great Irish food in a nearby pub before getting the bus back to Belfast. As I’m getting settled into my new house I’m realizing that I chose a pretty good room, as it seems to be the only one that doesn’t have a carpet that smells like moist sweat socks.

Yeah. Let that sink into your brain. The Belfast damp is unfortunately alive and well…

Also unfortunately is the lack of hot water in the taps or in the shower, a problem that extends not only to the boiler but to the electrical system as well. Since it’s a holiday weekend it can’t be fixed until next week, which means it’s cold showers or no showers for me until then. I live in a developed country and it’s not warm in any sense here- while cold showers were the norm on my trips to Nicaragua or during Jordan summers, cold showers are a one way ticket to me not being a happy camper and probably getting ill again in Northern Ireland.

Sunday was spent relaxing and meandering, as few things were open in preparation for bonfire burnings and parades today (Monday). Today is a national holiday so many people have it off work. Smoke trails were evident in the sky over Belfast and the smell of the sea was strong- it’s a weird combination for a weird town, haha.

I walked Maria to the bus station this morning not so bright but definitely early. One of the bonfires in Sandy Row was still burning, definitely not something you see every day. The city was quiet and people were out setting up parade barriers for the parades that will go through later in the day. It is raining.


I am home again waiting for the repair guy who was supposed to be here an hour and a half ago and still hasn’t showed. I know it’s a holiday, but if you say you’re going to be somewhere at a certain time and that determines whether or not I get to shower today? Kind of important. Depending on others to fix necessary shit is really a drag.

What an interesting weekend, indeed…

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