Once upon a time in Northern Ireland, my husband and I had a very long day.
We took a wonderful drive around the horn.
Got trapped on a “two-lane” road that wasn’t large enough for a single car.
And finally made it to our Bed and Breakfast in Derry.
We found a parking space, walked right up to the door to ring the bell…and nothing. So we knocked. Nothing.
We asked around on the street to see if the neighbors knew when the innkeeper would be back. Nothing. It was one of the two moments on the trip when I really wished my cell phone worked.
With no pay phones in sight, we headed into town.
We had decided to visit Derry because it’s actually an intact, walled city.
What we hadn’t realized is that “The Troubles” are still very fresh in Derry. It’s not that we ever felt unsafe or anything like that. But there are freshly painted murals of children hiding from violence. Signs begging for people to be let out of prison. The violent part of The Troubles might be behind them, but the actuality of peace and agreement within government are still fresh.
The husband and I wandered around a bit, looking at the history, really needing a bathroom. Until finally we did the best thing two actors in a foreign country can do: we walked into the theatre and asked for help.
We entered the nice lobby rain-splattered and travel-worn. The box office manager knew our innkeeper and called his cell phone while we used the bathroom.
Low and behold, there was a secret code to open a box to select a key to wander into the creepy four-story house where you can hear voices but really aren’t sure where they’re coming from, find your room (well, you hope its your room), and wake up to a house full of people who must have gotten their keys the same creepy way so it’s a good thing there wasn’t a serial killer staying the night amongst the massive amount of rooms. Because that’s how all Bed and Breakfasts run, right?
But despite the creepy lodging, walking the wall around the city and learning the wall’s history—from protecting the city from invasion to being the site of violence in the Troubles—was truly amazing.
And at the end of it all, we walked across the peace bridge to one of the best breweries I’ve ever visited.
All in all, an educational and wonderful introduction to Northern Ireland.