Itinerary
Our itinerary will give you an overview of the excursion.


Excursion Diary
Our diary will give you an illustrated impression of our excursion.
Just pick a date or scroll down through the whole diary!

Friday, 17.06.2005

Saturday, 18.06.2005

Sunday, 19.06.2005

Monday, 20.06.2005

Tuesday, 21.06.2005

Wednesday, 22.06.2005

Thursday, 23.06.2005

Friday, 24.06.2005

Saturday, 25.06.2005



Journey Diary: Northern Ireland 2005

Our Journey Diary

written by:

Steffi Huhn
Steffi Flick
Monika Imielska
Miriam Lazic
Alexandra Rickes


Friday, 17.06.2005

Steffi Huhn



Arrival Day: From Düsseldorf to Dublin



Dear Diary,

Today was the first day of our university excursion to Northern Ireland. We left in the afternoon for the Düsseldorf Airport. Only one student missed the train, but she caught up with us at the airport, thank goodness.

After all 53 of us checked in, we started our "Aer Lingus" flight to Dublin at 8.30 pm. It was the first time I had ever flown and therefore I was very nervous. But it wasn't that bad at all.

When we arrived in Dublin everything went very fast...we had to grab our luggage and hired taxis which drove us straight into Dublin's inner city, to Fleet Street where our accommodations were located. The evening was special for everyone. We were right in the middle of the celebrating crowd. The streets were so extremely full of people that it was very lively! I went with a group of about ten of us to a pub not very far away from our accommodations. The music was quite good, the beer tasted great and we got to know many different people, and surprisingly, most of them were not originally from Dublin. All of us had the chance to have friendly conversations with them and had a very exciting and wonderful evening...



Back to top

Saturday, 18.06.2005

Steffi Huhn


Dublin


Dear Diary,

Today, after a so-called "international" breakfast which consisted of coffee, tea, cornflakes, bananas and toast, a great part of our group including me went to the Guinness Brewery. Vera had organized a tour for us... It was quite good but they only explained how the beer is made without really showing the process. After the tour we all had the chance to drink one pint of Guinness in the highest part of the building where we had an amazing panoramic view of Dublin. The rest of the group visited Trinity College with its ancient library and the Book of Kells...

After we left the brewery Monika, Stef and I went shopping in Dublin until we started our next part of the journey at 4 pm. We went by bus along the coast to Belfast. We stopped at an ancient Celtic cemetery with well-preserved high crosses.

When we arrived in Belfast each one of us was assigned his or her own room which pleased everyone, because in Dublin we were in rooms with from four to twelve people. After supper we went, of course, to a pub and it was another interesting and fun evening...


Queen’s Elms Village





Back to top

Sunday, 19.06.2005

Monika Imielska


Belfast


Dear Diary,

Yesterday we arrived in Belfast after being in Dublin for one day. Belfast’s size is 115 km² and its population is about 280,000. It is a very nice city and today we saw a lot of sights. In the morning at about 10 am we met with Cathy and some students in front of our accommodation to go to St. Anne’s Cathedral and to take part in a service.





St. Anne’s Cathedral is an Anglican (Protestant) church, but I was very surprised when I noticed that the service was so similar to a Catholic one. There were almost no differences. They even celebrate the Eucharist. But I think the Anglicans do not pray to Mary and all the saints as Catholics do.



 

St. Anne’s Cathedral



Belfast Cathedral (Brief History): http://www.belfastcathedral.org/brief_history



This is the programme of the service:

1st page:

2nd page:

After our experience of attending an Anglican service, we even were invited to join the Cathedral Community for coffee and cookies (but unfortunately the coffee didn’t taste very good…). Then we talked to one Protestant man, member of the Orange Order, who told us that the Troubles are not a religious, but a political problem. Before going back to our accommodation, we took some group pictures in front of the Cathedral. On our way back we bought some fish and chips to eat them later in the bus on our coach tour through Belfast.

The coach tour lasted about 3 ½ hours and we visited Belfast Castle with its beautiful gardens; Stormont; Belfast’s dry dock; St. Anne’s Cathedral for the ones who hadn’t been there with us in the morning; Queen’s University; and the City Hall. We also drove through the Protestant area, along the Peace Line and saw many really impressive murals.


Belfast Castle




Belfast Castle is on the Cave Hill, in the north of Belfast. It is a castle from the 12th century, but the present building dates from the 19th century. It contains a luxurious restaurant and a small museum. In the garden there are motives of cats. They are based on a legend which tells that the inhabitants of the castle can only lead a happy life as long as there is a white cat living in the garden.



The “Cat Garden”



Stormont is the Parliament Building of Northern Ireland. It was built in 1932 in the east of Belfast in the middle of a huge park. Tourists are allowed to visit the park except during important politicians’ meetings.



Stormont


Queen’s University



The Queen’s University was built from 1845 to 1849, during the Great Famine. Until the late 20th century, Catholics were not allowed to study there. Today over 50 % of all the students are Catholics, but the teaching staff still consists mostly of Protestants.



City Hall


In 1888 Queen Victoria gave the town of Belfast the status of City. In response the citizens built the magnificent City Hall which today dominates the heart of Belfast. Negotiations to acquire the site in Donegall Square began in 1896 and a Public Architectural Competition was held, from which the design of Mr (afterwards Sir) Brumwell Thomas was selected. Work started in 1898 and the building was completed in 1906. The building covers an area of about one acre and a half and is set in gardens which are open to the public. It was built in the Classical Renaissance style in Portland stone and is rectangular in shape, enclosing a quadrangular courtyard. A Porte-Cochère marks the Grand Entrance.

Belfast City Hall



And here are some murals in the Shankill Road and the Peace Line:





Shankill Road is in the Protestant area. There are innumerable murals, which refer to historical events. Some of the pictures are very aggressive and show the Protestants' hateful attitude towards towards the Catholics.


Shankill Road




Peace Line




These were some impressions of today. We saw very much and I’m looking forward to the rest of our time here in Belfast and later in Derry/Londonderry.

Monika




Back to top

Monday, 20.06.05

Monika Imielska


Belfast


Dear Diary,


Today we had a very relaxing day. In the morning I went with Steffi, Stephi, Asli and Pia to the city centre. We explored the shops and had a nice time together. At 5 p.m. we went to the cinema and watched “Mr. & Mrs. Smith”. In the evening we were in the Crown Liquor Saloon and drank some beer. There was a very nice atmosphere because of the enclosed booths you could sit in.





This was a very nice day. Good night,

Monika



Back to top

Tuesday, 21.06.2005

Steffi Flick


Day-trip through the Antrim county


Dear Diary,


Today we made a trip through the beautiful county of Antrim. We stopped along several beaches but unfortunately it was too cold to go into the water (but one of us actually went swimming!). Furthermore, we saw Strangford Lough, which is an area of outstanding beauty and one of the largest sea inlets in the British Isles. It is surrounded by the so-called ‘Dumlins’, soft, low hills (guess which colour they are! green, of course!). Despite a local myth that Strangford has 365 islands, there are, in fact, just 120. One of our two big stops was in Portaferry, a rather small town at the southern entrance of Strangford Lough. To be honest, this time in Portaferry was a bit boring because there were almost no stores, one castle which is called ‘Quintin Castle’ and was built in the 12th century. This would have been very interesting if the castle hadn’t been a big building site!



We made our second big stop in Bangor (which is very funny because Phil has a house in Wales near a town which is also called Bangor). What is very interesting about Bangor is that it has a population of 52,000 inhabitants but there are nearly 45 churches of all confessions. I think this is really crazy! I don’t think that there are more than 20 churches in Siegen and the population there is twice as much as in Bangor. But this shows again how important religion is in Northern Ireland. But back to our time in Bangor: We were desperately searching for something to eat, but unfortunately – like in Portaferry- everything was closed, so we decided to go to a pub and drink some beer (Harp, of course).

After having met again, the bus took us back again to the accommodations in Belfast.

In the evening, or better to say nearly the whole night, we sat together in the kitchen and had a good time!




Back to top
Wednesday, 22.06.2005

Alexandra Rickes


Belfast to Derry via Giant’s Causeway


Dear Diary,

We left Belfast this morning by coach. The first highlight of our trip was Glenariff Forest Park – that was named after the breathtaking Glen of Glenariff and consists altogether of nine spectacular glens. We passed this area at half past ten and observed a very beautiful and lonesome landscape with many sheep on numerous, impressingly high hills and in several glens. Out of our coach we had some fantastic views of the green hills and understood why Ireland is often called “The Green Isle”.


After we had passed the small and peaceful village Cushendun, we even could take a short look on the panorama including the green hills on the one side and the sea on the other. Shortly before eleven o’ clock, Phil drew our attention to a so-called vanishing lake that enlarges and reduces depending on the water level.

A few minutes later, we arrived in Ballycastle- a village near the coast. We stopped at the harbour there and enjoyed the sea and the beach. We collected some glittering stones at the sandy beach - instead of shells. I entered one of the small shops next to the harbour and bought a great, hand-made sandwich that was cheap and saved me from starvation for hours.

At 12.20 pm we reached a view-point from which we were able to look at the famous rope-bridge Carrick-A-Rede that connects two cliffs and leads above a 24-meter-high ravine.


Unfortunately We did not have time to cross the rope-bridge - an extraordinary event that every guidebook recommends. Our itinerary was too full that day, but some of us were given the chance to do it later.

At half past twelve we arrived at my real highlight of the day: The Giant’s Causeway. The landscape there was breathtakingly beautiful and reminded me of New Zealand because of the resemblance to some scenes of the movie “The Lord of the Rings”.


We took a walk from the Visitor Centre to the best known sight: the basalt stones (including the wishing stone). Phil had told us before to wear good shoes- and was right as we realized later. The way down was quite steep, so that any person wearing high heels or slippery shoes would have gotten into trouble soon. The walk really pleased me and was a good opportunity for us to stretch our muscles a bit before continuing our coach tour. We tried to get a group photo on the famous stones, but it was not easy to catch everybody for the photo. Raymond - our likable coach driver - waited patiently and did not lose his good temper, not even when he had to take the group photos of us with eight or nine different cameras.


Afterwards, we spent about two hours at Old Bushmills Distillery, where we were given an introduction to the production of Whiskey. Furthermore, we had the chance to choose one out of four different Whiskeys to try a glass. Some more hard-drinking members of the group tried out eight kinds of Whiskey and received a kind of tester’s diploma after that.

At 5 pm we left Bushmills and continued on the fascinating coastal road in the direction of our next destination - Derry/Londonderry. On the way, we had glimpses of the interesting ruin of Dunluce Castle that appeared to be still well preserved - except for the vanished roof and the kitchen that had dropped into the sea a long time ago.


We had only time to take a photo of this captivating sight. Then we passed the coast villages Portrush and Portstewart that looked quite inviting.

In the evening, we finally arrived in Derry/Londonderry and were really relieved and happy to have clean, comfortable, one-bedroom suites including shower and bathroom for each of us. Six students shared one kitchen - that guaranteed the community feeling amongst us. The suites appeared brand-new, as if they had just been brought in from IKEA and had never been used before - this was really great. A well known feeling in our stomachs made us leave our accommodations and search for the way to the next supermarket or restaurant and the City Centre. We were lucky that some supermarkets stayed open until 22 o’clock. Miriam and I shared a Chinese meal - we thought it somehow strange that they served rice combined with chips and vegetables. It tasted good and did not cost much - in comparison with the high prices of Dublin and Belfast. After having played cards with our apartment-mates we dropped into our beds…





Back to top

Thursday, 23.06.2005

Miriam Lazic


A day in Derry


Dear Diary,

Our task for today was to work further on our projects. As we had chosen the project to write a travel diary, Alexandra and I decided to explore the town, in order to be capable of giving a detailed report for those who did not participate in the excursion. As it was a nice and sunny day, the weather was ideal for walking through the town and visiting various famous places. First, we visited the “Bloody Sunday” memorial that is situated in the town centre. Regrettably, I took no picture of it. Afterwards, we walked a little while on the town wall and made our way to famous big pictures called murals that are painted on house walls in the Catholic residential area. When we saw the wall with the writing “You are now entering free Derry” on it, we knew that we were in the Catholic area now, because the Catholics call the town Derry and the Protestants say Londonderry.


As we walked along the houses, we noticed 10 murals. Here I present some examples of those murals.



One mural depicted Bloody Sunday. On it you could see the faces of the 14 civilians who were killed that day.

Then we went to a good and cheap restaurant called “Diamonds” for lunch. Moreover, we took a little shopping tour that afternoon.

On our way to the residence two small Irish girls wanted to sell us a mobile phone for 50 pounds. Indeed, that was a good price, but nevertheless we were not interested in their offer.

The day had been exhausting, as we had walked the whole time. Therefore we relaxed a while before going into town again to get to know the nightlife. We spent the evening in a traditional pub with live Irish music.


The band consisted of a guitarist and a violinist. They played until 1 am, when the pub finally closed. Phil was there with us, too. He was in a wonderful mood and sang and danced a lot. We tasted a “Guinness”, but it was definitely not to our taste!

Alexandra and Marisa had one after the other the dubious pleasure of sitting next to some Irish guys who had already drunk a lot. One of them named Darren was very obtrusive, but Alex and Marisa were polite and talked to him the whole evening. They were really happy when the men left the pub!

When we finally arrived at the hall of residence, it was 2 am and we were extremely tired and fell asleep immediately.




Back to top

Friday, 24.06.2005

Steffi Flick


Trip to Portrush


Dear Diary,

Today some of us made a trip to Portrush. We met early in the morning and had to walk nearly an hour from our accommodations in Derry/Londonderry to the railway station. In Coleraine, we changed the train and then after some time we arrived in Portrush, which has one of the most popular and beautiful beaches in Northern Ireland. Furthermore there is the biggest fun park in Northern Ireland (but for us it seemed to be very small…) We all had expected to be able to go into the water, lie on the beach and so on… unfortunately, it was just 15° (but one of us wasn’t terrified by the weather and went swimming), so we sat on the beach, froze and waited for 5 pm when the train was supposed to take us home…at 4 o’clock we ate at a little restaurant… most of us had fish and chips (which I personally really hate.). We all were happy when the train arrived at Belfast again and we could take a hot shower or drink some warm tea because it had been so incredibly cold!

In the evening, we went to a pub in the centre of Derry/Londonderry and had some fun!



Friday, 24.06.2005

Alexandra Rickes


Day-trip from Derry to Carrick-a-Rede


Dear Diary,

I was really happy today to get the chance to join Phil and three students (Stephan, Chris, Corinna) on their trip in a rented car to Carrick-a-Rede. We had lots of fun with our driver (Phil). The mood during the day was good, especially after finally having crossed the bridge. On our way southwards from Derry we stopped at several beautiful places such as an inviting white-sandy beach and the ruins of Dunluce Castle. I liked this old castle very much and I had wished during the whole excursion to see more castles and ruins- that was why Phil called me the “castle-expert” after visiting this one. We looked at it from the outside, because the entrance was not free, but this was marvellous, too.

we had longed for the bridge-crossing adventure ever since we first saw Carrick-a-Rede and it was a great experience really to look down 24 meters on the sea while standing on the famous rope-bridge. Afterwards some of us said the bridge could have shaken a bit more, but standing there together with two jumping students really made it shake enough.

We were “back home in Derry” after a nice walk along the beautiful beach and an amusing car trip. In Derry this perfect day ended at an Indian restaurant, where we had a great dinner and tested how much spice Chris could eat.




Back to top

Saturday, 25.06.2005

Miriam Lazic

Day-trip to Donegal and “back home in Derry”


Dear Diary,

At 4:30 am I woke up with a really bad muscle ache in my legs. I could not fall asleep again for a long time and feared that I would not be able to walk a single step the next day. I read a little bit in order to forget my pain and to become tired. After having been awake for about one hour I finally fell asleep again.

At 9 am my alarm clock rang and I had to get up, although I was still very tired because of the short night before. But fortunately my muscle ache was not that bad any more. And that was essential that day, because Cathy and Phil had planned to visit Donegal with the whole group. That town, situated in the Republic of Ireland, should be the most beautiful place of Ireland, as Darren had confided to us (see report of Thursday).

At about 11 am we finally arrived in Donegal. It was a cute little town at the sea. Now we had one hour and a half at our own disposal. Some of us decided to spend the time at the beach and some went on a little hike. But Alex and I decided to go shopping and bought lovely souvenirs. Alex also bought an Irish tin whistle and we walked along the road and played songs for the sheep. We thought it was nice, but the sheep did not share the same opinion and ran away while I was playing.

Back on the bus, many of us wanted to make their way home, but as we had still plenty of time, we decided to make another stop near a hill. Those who still had enough power climbed it. I also tried to do so, but the higher I got, the muddier the ground was and therefore I decided to return.

We stayed at this place till 5 pm and then we had another stop at a supermarket and provided ourselves with food for the journey home the next day.

At about 8 pm we arrived back at the hall of residence and although we were tired, we went out to our favourite pub, as it was our last day in Derry/Londonderry.



Sunday, 26.06.05

Alexandra Rickes


Departure Day: from Derry to Siegen


Dear Diary,

Today we left Northern Ireland and returned home. At 8.30 almost the whole excursion group was ready to leave, but before we got into the coach, Vera Fohr had organized a group meeting in order to give thanks to the fabulous leaders of the excursion (Cathy Waegner and Phil Mothershaw-Rogalla). Both sides exchanged small presents and thanks. Cathy and Phil said thanks to several students, such as Vera, who did extra work during these days.

Afterwards everybody got on the bus and met met Martin - the coach driver of the day - who drove us southwards.

We stopped at the ruins of an old Celtic fort named “Grianan of Aileach”. It was a round stone building you could climb on. From the top you had a wonderful view of the landscape and we took many photos.

At noon, we had a lunch break at Stonehill, where St. Patrick lit the first Easter fire, and visited the ruins nearby. Some enjoyed their lunch, others used the time for climbing up the ruin walls or for taking fotos. After one hour, at 1 o’ clock we departed on our “Martin’s Magical Mystery Tour” that took us fortunately straight to the Dublin airport. It was really a kind of mystery because Martin had so much trouble with the reverse gear and did not mind driving through red traffic lights. We arrived very early at the airport and had much time for checking in. As the security staff checked our hand luggage and our clothes, we all had to take off our shoes. Very strange. Our flight was delayed for forty minutes. There was a coach waiting for us in Düsseldorf. When I arrived home there were so many things to tell my family!