“Travels to a Different Time” : 10August1972: Belfast, Ardrossan, Edinburgh and Unusual Security Issues in Belfast: Missed Bloody Friday by Three Weeks

So here I am a 16-year-old having breakfast at the Royal Belfast Hotel. I am sure I must look like some ratty orphaned child as I eat from silverware. Oliver Twist looking for Fagan! I love that they bring toast in a silver rack covered by a napkin to keep it warm. The staff I must say have treated me like some strange creature from a friendly planet. Can I say Irish hospitality? If they knew I was Protestant what would have happened?  I went to the post office to mail some postcards and soldiers were surrounding it. I was frisked by a British soldier who missed the stiletto in my back pocket. All this security to mail a letter? What has happened to Northern Ireland? Hatred can live anywhere but how long can people stand it? I have had enough of it.

I was happy to leave Northern Ireland and I went to the docks to catch a ferry to Ardrossan in Scotland. I wanted to leave my knapsack in storage but again security concerns say I could not do that. I walked around the port and had a pint of milk and some cookies for lunch. 5 hours on the sea and arrived at Ardrossan at 9:30 and decided to hitch to Edinburgh, I was picked up by a student and invited to stay at a house occupied by her fellow students.

11August1972; Edinburgh

I found a great room for £1.75 with breakfast. I had some herring, milk, bread and a sweet bun for breakfast on my way to find the room. I found a laundromat and washed all my clothes. Tomorrow I will visit Edinburgh Castle.

16August1972: Edinburgh and New York; Just Get Me Home Please!

I am sitting in the Port Authority in New York just back from Edinburgh. A 3 hour wait for the bus to Montreal. I could have stayed a couple of weeks more but from all this hitchhiking and from an awful trip to Northern Ireland I feel exhausted, dirty and disgusted after my trip to the “developed world”. It has been rainy, chilly, damp and more or less unchallenging as we all speak English in England, Scotland and Ireland. I miss the unknown as I experienced in Greece and Yugoslavia. I suppose my next adventure will be to Eastern Europe as I hear from a traveller or two it is almost untouched by capitalist country tourists. My type of place! In the meantime I missed several days of diary entries. I had my 17th birthday in Scotland 4 days ago but can’t remember what I did. Just get me home please.

Some say people experience unpleasant things in life for a reason. Why have I seen such turmoil and even a death in Northern Ireland? It has taught me a lesson of how politics and religion can be a deadly combination when fuelled by desperation and hatred. On the boat over to Scotland I chatted with an Irish bloke who said on July 21, 1972 19 bombs exploded in Belfast killing 19 and injuring hundreds. Lucky me for missing that by three weeks. I suddenly realized I could have been injured or killed on Bloody Friday

Published by Robert K Stephen (CSW)

Robert K Stephen writes about food ,drink, travel, film, and lifestyle issues. He also has published serialized novels "Life at Megacorp", "Virus # 26, "Reggie the Egyptian Rescue Dog" and "The Penniless Pensioner" Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden and the University of Toronto. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he has established this publication. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."

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