Street Art in Northern Ireland

Now that I’ve had a bit of time I’ve put together a couple of pages of the street art I photographed during my recent trip to Northern Ireland. I discovered so much I have split it into two pages, one for Belfast City and the other for the pieces I found in the other towns I visited on my trip. A few sample images are shown below.

The complete set of photographs can be found on the Street Art in Northern Ireland page.

Travelling Again

I was quite excited that travel restrictions were starting to lift after almost 2 years of being kept at home, my mate Jim and I intended to travel to Australia in March and April, but when we looked further into it we discovered that there were still restrictions in place in Singapore and some of the areas we wished to visit, so we decided to hold off until later in the year hoping the restrictions will be lifted. To compensate we thought we would take a short trip to somewhere different but nearby, Northern Ireland came to mind, so after booking everything, off we went.

I was quite pleased to be visiting the area as I was aware that there is an abundance of good quality street art in Ireland, I even found some from our local artists, Smug, RogueOne and Mark Worst, as you can imagine I took loads of photographs during our time there, they can be seen on the following page. Street Art in Northern Ireland

Monday 7th March

Monday morning saw us setting off early for our trip to Cairnryan to catch the 11:00 P&O ferry to Larne. We had an uneventful drive down to the port and arrived in plenty of time before boarding the European Highlander. The crossing went well and for once the Irish Sea was very calm.

European Highlander

Once off the ferry, it was a relatively short journey up to Portrush, we arrived before our check-in time so after parking the car we went for a stroll around town. Our first stop was the Harbour Bar for a Guinness and a chat with a local lad Paul. Leaving the bar looking for a bite to eat, we discovered a nice piece of street art by Dublin based artist Aches of a surfer overlooking the East Strand which is a popular surfing location. A nice nearby restaurant, 55 North was a good place to have a late lunch. On our wander back to the accommodation to check in we came across a mural “Causeway Rebel” dedicated to local boy Andrew Dunbar, a Game of Thrones actor who passed away recently, the mural was painted by Belfast artists KVLR and Sam Barry.

We checked Into our accommodation, The Heart of Portrush Mews, a delightful mews cottage which is fortunately in the centre of town, and after unpacking and exploring the places we went out for a stroll around town stopping off in a nice pub called Kiwis Brew Bar for a few beers, it was a good choice as we were met with loads of friendly people, so much so that we stayed longer than intended. We stopped off for a takeaway Indian meal on the way home, a perfect way to finish off our first day in Northern Ireland Ireland.

Tuesday 8th March

On Tuesday we headed round the corner to catch the 8:00 train to Belfast, the service was very comfortable and speedy and we reached Belfast in good time, on leaving the Lanyon Place station we stopped off for a late breakfast before hitting the city centre where Jim was able to pick up the obligatory Starbucks mugs for Dan. We then used public transport to take us to the Titanic Quarter where we spend a good few hours enjoying the museum and exhibitions, once back in the city centre we did a wee bit of exploring, stopping off for a meal before catching the train home, we decided to stay in on our return, a couple of drinks and some telly before retiring for a well-earned rest.

Wednesday 9th March

We were unlucky in our choice of outing for Wednesday, we had booked a trip to the Giants Causeway and unfortunately, it was pouring down, we had a walking tour and the guide, a young guy called Phill did an excellent job describing the geology and history of the place, and despite the rain, we really enjoyed our visit and found it very informative.

On the way back to Portrush we stopped off to have a look at the ruins of Dunluce Castle, there really wasn’t much to see so we continued along the coast to Portstewart where we had a nice lunch in Morreli’s cafe and a stroll around the town, where we discovered a few good pieces of street art, one of a sea eagle on a large gable was particularly good. We finished off the day by visiting the Portrush Yacht Club for a couple of beers before visiting the Harbour Bar for a meal and a few more beers, we met with Paul again and a load of other nice people and it turned into a bit of a late session.

Thursday 10th March

Thursday morning saw us heading west towards Limavady, we were asked to stop off there by Jim’s in-laws as that is where their family originated from, it was a nice little town but there wasn’t much to hold us there so we headed off to Derry-Londonderry arriving in time for lunch. After lunch we headed down to the Bogside to photograph the murals there, there were quite a few of them, all very political, something I’m not interested in, I was more interested in the quality of the painting, which on the whole was very good. We left for home and after a brief stop in Coleraine to photograph more paintings. Feeling a wee bit tired after our travels we had a quiet(ish) night having a couple of pints in the Quays, a nice gastropub around the corner from the accommodation, to finish off the day.

The Derry Girls

Friday 11th March.

We caught the 8:00 train to Belfast again today, and after another late breakfast in the Bridge Bar, we set off hunting, this time our target was the street art of the city. A quick visit to the Tourist Information office provided some hints, so off we went walking. Starting off in the Cathedral Quarter we found many good murals and pieces of shutter art in the many entries and closes of the area, of course, we just happened to stop off at The Duke of York, a traditional Belfast bar crammed with original mirrors and memorabilia, boasting cold beer, great Guinness and one of the largest selection of Irish whiskeys in Ireland. The bar is situated in Commercial Court, which has become known as Umbrella Street due to the colourful neon brollies hanging over the street.

Looking for a quick lunch we headed over to St Georges Market and managed to have a look around the various stalls and grab lunch before it closed for the day.

Back in town after lunch, we took more photographs of street art before trying to find somewhere to buy a bottle of Belfast Gin, (we found it quite difficult to find places that sold spirits), eventually, we managed to get our hands on a bottle of Jawbox that met the brief. At the end of a great day in Belfast, we headed back to the train station stopping off at the Crown Liquor Saloon which just happened to be near the station, the Crown, dating back to the 1880s, is a gem of the Victorian era still boasts many of its original features, including gaslighting and many mirrors and stained glass, the pictures below show it almost empty but when we visited at teatime on a Friday night it was packed to the rafters with hardly any room to move, it is certainly an iconic place to visit.

Once back in Portrush we deposited our purchases then returned to Kiwi’s for supper and a beer before retiring for the night, it was a good way to finish off a good day.

Saturday 12th March

As we were required to check out of our accommodation by 10:00, we packed up and loaded up the car. Leaving Portrush behind, and headed along the coast road for a leisurely drive down to Larne. Despite it being closed for the season we stopped off at the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge for a look around, it was quite a bit windy making us appreciate why it was closed to the public. We intended to travel down the coast to visit some of the locations used for the filming of Game of Thrones but we came across so many roadworks and diversions that we were taken back inland again towards Ballymena where we stopped off for lunch. We eventually arrived in Larne with plenty of time to kill so we had a wander around town catching some good street art in the process.

The return journey on the ferry was uneventful, we spent it in the cinema watching a movie to pass the time. This was followed by an easy run back home in time for a takeaway meal to finish off the day.

All in all, despite some wet weather we both enjoyed our time in Northern Ireland and reckoned that we would be happy to return some other time.

As I mentioned at the top of the post, I took loads of photographs of street art in the many places we visited, these can be seen on a separate page, which I will add a link to when it is completed.

What we discovered on our return though was a positive Covid test result, meaning that I had time to create this post as I was self-isolating.

Norwegian Art

As promised, I’ve eventually put together a couple of pages showing the street art I found during my recent trip to Norway, they are just a couple of clicks away.

[Arctic Art]  –  [Urban Art in Bergen]

I have been informed that some people are finding it difficult to navigate through my website, so over the coming weeks, I’m going to redesign it to make things easier. I would welcome your comments and thoughts on what improvements you would like to see.

I would also like to update the Glasgow Street Art section of the site to make it more prominent, again I would welcome your thoughts.

North Norway – Completed

Since Jim & I returned from Norway, I have been busy volunteering at the LEN European Short Course Championships at Tollcross so I haven’t been able to devote much time to the blog, now that it’s over I have eventually worked my way through the many photographs we took during our time there.  Rather than starting a new page, I have appended them to the page for the first half of the voyage, the completed page can be seen here.

I took many photographs of the Northern Lights and the street art I found whilst we were away, I will add further pages at a later date.

Our Nordic Adventure

Many of you will know that my mate, Jim Lewars, and I have been on a Nordic Adventure cruising up the Norwegian coast on one of Hurtigruten’s postal boats, the MV Finnmarken.  This is a 12-day voyage along the Norwegian coast, spending 6 days travelling North, reaching Kirkenes before turning South for the return voyage to Bergen.

I have completed the journal, with photographs for the first stage of the trip, which can be seen here, the journal will be added to on completion of the return leg.

Journey Finished

For those who like to follow my travels and those who travelled with me recently in Southeast Asia, I have now completed my journal for my time there.  I have tried to remember everything we did during our time together and I have included many photographs, I’m sure I missed out many things and memories and I’m willing to add anything that my fellow travellers remind me of.

You can read all about our travels here.

As usual, during my trip I also took some street art photographs, I will add them to a separate page at a later date.

 

Homeward Bound

Well, that’s me at the end of my trip to South East Asia, I’m currently in Bangkok airport waiting to board my flight home. I think the city wanted to say goodbye to me in a fitting manner, I drove to the airport during a massive thunderstorm and torrential rain.

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I’m sure I’ve said it before, but I’ve enjoyed myself immensely, more than I thought I would, however, it’s time to come home and spend a bit of time recharging my batteries before my next trip.

While I’m at home, I will update my site with all my stories and photographs of the trip, there have been many requests from my fellow travellers to see it, and too bring back so many memories.  During the last couple of days wandering the city, I did manage to find some street art, these are just off the top of the pile, there are much better pieces to follow.

Leaving Cambodia

I last posted when I arrived in Siem Reap, this final post from Cambodia is also coming from Siem Reap, as this is where I get my bus back to Bangkok tomorrow morning.  Since my last post, I’ve visited many places, we left Siem Reap for Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, I didn’t think much of the city, too busy and very messy, I did a 16 km trek searching for some non-existent street art, which gave me a new set of blisters!

Before leaving Phnom Penh, we visited the infamous Khmer Rouge prison, S21 and the nearby Killing Fields, which seemed strange to find it in a peaceful lakeside location, both of them were very sobering visits and gave me an insight into the terrible events of the Khmer Rouge regime. This certainly was a different part of Cambodian history that should be remembered and never repeated.

We then made our way South to Kampot, a sleepy little riverside town, we arrived in time to board a riverboat for a sunset cruise,  as usual we didn’t get to see a sunset but the cruise was very nice and relaxing.  Fortunately the next day was a free day, which gave me the chance to have a bit of a lie in before a leisurely breakfast.  Kampot is not too large, I wandered about to see what sights it had to offer. I eventually found some paint on walls in the town, most of it pretty basic , but there was a couple of really good pieces.Our final visit in the Kampot area was to the Kep Gardens on the outskirts of Kampot,  this was a great visit, it was to a community education project, set up and run by an elderly Australian couple, we were shown round by Janiine and we then spent the next few hours teaching English to 6 and 7 year old kids, it really was great fun, I don’t know who enjoyed it most, the kids or us, I was blown away by how clever some of the kids were and how well they responded to us.

Following our visit to Kampot, we returned Phnom Penh, as we had a bit of a late night, there were a few sore heads first thing, mine included, I had a wee wander around the area in the afternoon as I didn’t really like the city much, my second visit didn’t change my mind.  As I was leaving the group in the morning,  we all gathered for our final dinner together,  we chose Friends the Restaurant, a collective project restaurant where all the profits are returned to the community, it was a nice way to finish off our trip together.

As I said, I did however discover little pockets of good street art, only one or two in each place, but it was good to see that some are trying, despite the local government crackdown.

I was picked up in the morning and taken to the bus station, where Tra Tra and I boarded our Mekong Express Limousine coach to Siem Reap,  my final destination in Cambodia.  I’ve enjoyed my time here, it’s a country full of happy friendly people, despite the visible poverty, the only time we felt threatened was in Phnom Penh as we had been told there were bag snatchers about.  The countryside and history is fascinating, it really good to spend some time amongst the villagers and normal expletive not jus the ones in the tourist pots.

Welcome to Cambodia

We said goodbye to Laos, by getting back on a boa to the mainland then taking a relatively short bus run to the border post to leave Laos,  we all then trudged across no-mans-land to the Cambodian version to pass through immigration.  A new bus then took us to a border town where we had a brunch before the long bus run to Siem Reap.

On arrival, we checked into our hotel, the Lub.d, which is by far the best hotel on our trip, the rooms are very modern and well fitted, a great shower all with a swimming pool and bar facilities. That night La took us to Pub Street, a sort of mini Kaosan Road, where we had dinner in a nice restaurant with live music played by local musicians, we managed to convince Adam, one of our group,  to join them in a rendition of Oasis’s Wonderwall, it was great fun.  We then tried out a few other bars but they were too noisy for many of us so we retuned to the hotel to finish off the night and to bid farewell to Oggy who was returning home the next day.

The following morning, we went to Angkor Wat, it really is a special place, we toured two of the temples, guided by Marri, a local guide who was very knowledgable about the temples and their surroundings.  We had lunch before being taken to Angkor Wat itself, again it was a place that gave you good vibes, we went for a Buddhist Blessing, which really enlightened us.

We finished off the day by visiting a Cambodian community circus, it was really more of an acrobatic performance but it was very good and entertaining

The next morning we met Tra Tra,  our new Cambodian Guide, and we boarded to bus to take us to Battenberg for our Homestay. We travelled to the city, and had lunch before visiting the local fish market and whiskey distillers and, possibly the strangest visit of all, was to a stall selling barbequed rat, snake and stingray amongst the delicacies on offer.

We then went to the village where we were to spend the night, after meeting our hosts, we took a stroll around the village,  again the locals were very friendly and welcoming, especially the children.  As it was nearly night time, we ventured out to one of the paddy fields to see the sunset before returning to the house for a lesson on how to make spring rolls and our evening meal.  Our bed for the night was in the long house upstairs, and it was a little strange at first until everyone settled down. The cockerels of the village made sure we didn’t stay in bed too long, so we had a reasonably early start back to Siem Reap, stopping again in Battenberg to visit the market, I even managed to take a photograph of a nice Chinese mural.   We then had a great time on the bamboo railway,  this was great fun, the trucks were essentially little bamboo pallets on wheels with a little petrol engine driving the wheels by a vee belt and a stick.  We then returned to Siem Reap, where we had a free day ahead and time to recharge my batteries.

Been there – Don Det

I last posted while in Vien Vieng, and I heard that as the Mekong was running low and slow, the tubing trip down it would be a little boring, I therefore decided to give it a miss.  Instead, I climbed a hill, which felt like a mountain and endured a massive thunderstorm at the top, making the descent difficult to say the least. Continuing South, I then visited Vietviane, the capitol of Laos which is pretty much like any large city, we went to visit the Great Sacred Stupa (Pa That Luang), a large gold covered Buddhist monument in the centre of the city, built in 1560, which is regarded as the most important national monument in Laos, we then visited Patuxai, Lao’s answer to Paris’s L’Arc de Triumph before checking in to the hotel. What stood out for me there, was the Discovery Laos meal I had, it was a true taste of Lao food according our guide, Khamla (La).

 

I then went from the large city to stay in a  village of 500 families in Kong Lor, staying in small traditional built bungalows, while there, I took a boat trip through a 7 km  river in a cave under another mountain, after our return through the mountain it was great to swim in the pool at the base of the cliffs, the setting was like something out of a movie set. Unfortunately Oggy cut his foot on the rocks at the pool and had to visit the medical centre in the village.

 

After another long day travelling over pretty poor roads to Savannakhet, a new stop on the Stray route, we arrived there and our first stop after checking in to the hotel, was to take Oggy to the local hospital,  the cut on his foot wasn’t healing so he ended up with a few stiches, a tetanus jab and some antibiotics,  I doubt I will ever complain about the NHS again, however the level of care and attention he received was excellent and could not be faulted, but the facilities were dreadful.

 

After dinner we all went down to the riverfront to see the End of Lent festival, as it was a bigger city, the crowds were massive and we found it difficult to move through them, we eventually gave up and returned to the hotel, getting back was great fun,  we all managed to get onto one tuk-tuk,  15 of us, including the driver, speeding through the night to the delight of the locals who saw us.

The next morning we took a long drive to Pakse, we stopped for lunch then booked into the hotel,  before heading to the stunning Tad Ngeuang waterfall, another place of beauty with a nice pool to swim in. We then headed into the Bolaven Plateau, where Laos’ main export of coffee is grown, the landscape was very different to the other areas we had visited.

We then returned  to Pakse and our hotel for a quick freshing up before going out for dinner, we all then went to a rooftop bar for views of the city at the end of the day.

A fairy early start this morning, for a fairly short drive to the port for the boat trip to Don Set, one of the islands in the area know as 4000 islands.

We checked into the Le Petit guesthouse and had a look at the village before having lunch. 

In the afternoon six of us, Cairan and Emma, Simon, Shane, Carl and I decided to go on a kayaking trip down the Mekong. It was great fun, especially shooting the rapid sections and trying to avoid the many bushes blocking our way.  There were also few mishaps along the way, a couple of capsizes, but we all got home safely if not a wee bit wet. We all agreed that this was one of the highlights of our trip so far, in addition to the kayaking, we took a boat trip to an area where we saw some rare Irawdy dolphins,  visited a nice waterfall and had a 45 minute bumpy tuk-tuk trip back to the village. 

A quick shower and a wee rest set me up for the evening, where we all had dinner and a few drinks as we said farewell to the 7 hopping off to spend more time on the islands on what was our last night in Laos.