Our Journey Diary
Day: From Düsseldorf to Dublin
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...
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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
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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
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.
Belfast Cathedral (Brief History):
is the programme of the service:
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.
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
The “Cat Garden”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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,
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Day-trip through the
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).
met again, the bus took us back again to the accommodations in
In the evening,
or better to say nearly the whole night, we sat together in the
kitchen and had a good time!
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to Derry via Giant’s Causeway
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
only time to take a photo of this captivating sight. Then we passed
the coast villages Portrush and Portstewart that looked
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…
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A day in Derry
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!
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.
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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!
Day-trip from Derry to
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.
“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.
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Day-trip to Donegal
and “back home in Derry”
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
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.
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
Departure Day: from
Derry to Siegen
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.
everybody got on the bus and met met Martin - the coach driver of the day - who drove us
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
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!