We're away in the van! Off from Lough Erne to Derry. Our first visit and I was amazed to find such a beautiful city. We parked in a car park beside the Foyle with a well-used path along beside the river. There were little parks here and there along the pathway too. There are new buildings with a few waterfront restaurants where we had dinner. After that it was a pub just outside the city walls - The Gainsborough. Very small and it looked as old as the walls. Run by a very friendly woman.
On Wednesday we walked around the walls - they are intact. It's about 1.5 km so the original city was very small. The photo shows the view from the Bishop's Gate. There was plenty of historical information at each of the gates and the bastions - bits that stuck out from the walls used for defence purposes. The walls were built in the early 17th century to protect the newly settled Protestants from England and Scotland. The second photo is a view along the walls from where we looked down over the Bogside with its huge murals on the gable ends of the houses.
We visited the Verbal Arts Centre which is just up from the photo of the wall. It's a place worth visiting. They had an exhibition of astonishing artworks made with fabric (I know there's a fancy name for this) which have taken their inspiration from each of Seamus Heaney's poems in his collection about Bloody Sunday. They were stunning. They were like paintings done as quilts.
Derry having just won the bid to become UK City of Culture for 2013 has given the place such a buzz. Everyone we met was incredibly friendly and proud to talk about their city. The buildings are fabulous - a result, of course, of the very thing that has caused all the problems - the plantation by the Protestants.
Outside the Guildhall is a huge plaza with choreographed fountains that come straight out of the paving. Several lines of the fountains that spout up high all at once, then splurt in splurges, or spurt low then high. They make you smile. You'd get a shock if you were walking across them just as they were turned on. Goosing with a difference.
On the Foyle across from the old city they're building a new bridge. This is the Peace Bridge that will join the two communities - the mainly Catholic city west bank and the mainly Protestant east bank. Further down the two sides are joined by a double decker bridge - we crossed on the lower deck. I've never seen a double decker before. It was originally built to take a railway on the top, but today it's all cars.
The photo is the Peace Bridge in progress.