I am now back from a week spent in Northern Ireland celebrating Christmas with my friend Karen and her family.  Boyfriend is just now landing in Edinburgh (imagine me spazzing ever so slightly) and I am biding my time waiting for him to get into the city by posting some pictures from the trip.

 There are a lot of Presbyterian churches in N. Ireland that I saw and they tend to be quite impressive buildings.  I feel like we American Presbyterians should emulate our NI brethren and build churches like the one above.

The streets of Belfast.  Karen kindly drove me about and took me to see the sights.

 Above, you can appreciate the incredible sculpture known as the Spirit of Belfast.  Because this is what Belfast’s spirit looks like.  Now you know.  I find it amazing that they can actually replicate a city’s spirit…

Victoria Square is a winter wonderland of happiness and Christmas joy.  I love this mall!

 Your average mall in the States might have a Christmas tree here or there and some tastefully placed holiday banners (of course, they wouldn’t ever use the word ‘Christmas’ because that is offensive…).  Here, however, the mall is packed with sparkling trees and garlands and giant signs all done in lights reading ‘Happy Christmas, Belfast’.  I love it.

 There’s a high viewing tower at the top of the mall.  Here, you can see the city in all its splendour with the lovely grey clouds covering everything…

 And the leaning clock tower.  It was built on swampy ground, apparently, so it leans.  It’s iconic.

Long way down!

 A four story tall Christmas tree – because they hadn’t done enough to celebrate the holiday already.

 This monument was a weird one in memorial of some person that neither Karen nor myself knew about.  It looks like the top of some Italian church. 

I do not understand its existence.

 The leaning tower of Belfast!  They don’t call it that.  But they should!  Hello, tourist attraction!

 Possibly, this fish swallowed Jonah.

 The only blue we saw all day.

 We went searching for Titanic related sites, but when we got to the supposed ‘Titanic quarter’ all we found was an empty waterfront and this incredibly sad monument.

Tasteless, I call it.  Who builds a monument of a tragically sunk ship and points it nose down?

 Karen is permanently offended by this monument.  No, really, she is.  It became a source of constant amusement to me to mention the Titanic and watch her face scrunch up in annoyance.

I still think I should’ve gotten her that Titanic t-shirt…

 So, in the end, there was nothing to see.  It seems like if they really want to increase tourism in Belfast, they would capitalize on the Titanic bit.  Silly people.

 Old buildings squished between new ones.

 Tacky tourist shop.  So. Much. Irish!  And there’s even some dancing Irish girl in the middle of the aisle!!!

And if you didn’t think she could be any more Irish…

 What’s this building?  It’s another Presbyterian church!  I’m not kidding!  This one was just a tad on the tacky side, I think.

Anyway, we had a goal that day.  It was to locate a few very well hidden CS Lewis-related places.  First, we found a statue that was sculpted and placed in 1998 for the centenary celebration (100 years after Lewis was born, you see).  Very cool statue.

 Don’t mind her: she’s just heading to Narnia.

 I was somewhat excited about peeking into the wardrobe, but alas, it was just a sculpture.  Very cool, nonetheless.

 All around the sculpture were words written about Lewis.  On one side it says: ‘The Searcher. Centenary Sculpture.’

The next side says: ‘C.S. “Jack” Lewis.  Ulsterman.’

The next side says: ‘Writer. Scholar. Teacher. Christian.’

The next side says: ‘Born 1898. Reborn 1931.’

I posted the pictures, but they’re hard to read.  So there you go.

 Karen hugs Digory.  I feel like he would have enjoyed the hug.

 Above, you can see the library we had to search for to find the sculpture.  It was very easy to find, of course, because the name is so clearly written… hahaha.

 On the back: ‘The Searcher: The Searcher is based on a literary character called Digory Kirke created by C.S. Lewis.  In The Magician’s Nephew, it was Digory who made the wardrobe from a beautiful apple tree that had magical properties, which also helped open a doorway to Narnia and Aslan.’

 This is an amazing letter that Lewis wrote to Anne Jenkins explaining who Aslan is, as well as what each book is supposed to be about. 

‘Dear Anne,
What Aslan meant when he said he had died is, in one sense plain enough.  Read the earlier book in this series called The lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, and you will find the story of how he was killed by the White Witch and came to life again.  When you have read that, I think you will probably see that there is a deeper meaning behind it.  The whole Narnian story is about Christ.  That is to say, I asked myself “Supposing that there is really a world like Narnia and supposing it had (like our world) gone wrong and supposing Christ wanted to go into that world and save it (as he did ours) what might have happened?” The stories are my answers.  Since Narnia is a world of talking beasts, I thought He would become a talking beast there, as he became a man here.  I pictured him becoming a lion because (a) The lion is supposed to be the king of the beasts: (b) Christ is called “The Lion of Judah” in the Bible: (c) I’d been having strange dreams about lions when I began writing the work…’

The rest of the letter explains what each book is about, and I think the picture I took makes it fairly easy to read that bit.  At the end, he says ‘All clear?’  which I just thought was funny for some reason.  Lewis is amazing.

 This is Campbell College, where boys go to school.  Lewis went for a few months, but pulled out due to illness.  It’s an impressive place.

 The driveway is flanked by two statues like this one.  If I was a little kid being sent to this school, I would not want to be greeted by these guys.

However, there is also a lamp post in the driveway that gives one cause to think: is this the lamp post?

 And finally, we luckily managed to spot this place at the end of the day.  Little Lea is where Lewis grew up.  It’s a private residence now, so you can’t go in, but from the outside, it’s still very pretty.

 I’m sure they had to put the ‘Private’ sign up to keep the Lewis fanatics out…

 A stalker shot from the bushes.  I see you!

All in all, I think we did rather well.  We found every single place we were looking for!  More pictures later.  Must go pick up boyfriend from bus stop!!!