Miren Pérez Eguireun visited Belfast for the first time in February. She visited because of Belfast’s troubled past but came away with a very positive impression of a friendly city.

The 28 year old from the Basque Country shared her story with belfastvibe…

“This is my first visit to Belfast, and I am here as part of the team of the roving embassies of San Sebastian 2016 European Capital of Culture.

Europa Transit is the name of this travelling delegation that will travel by bus to ten cities with troubled histories, ten cities where to put into practice our motto ‘Culture To Live Together’.

The reasons why Belfast was shortlisted to be part of this journey on coexistence and mutual understanding was pretty obvious to me (we Basques can especially relate to the conflict in Northern Ireland during the late 20th century), as it will be for anyone roughly familiar with the recent history of Europe.

What was not so clear to me was what I was going to find in Belfast on this visit. It was going to be my first time in Belfast, and the night  before arriving here, I read in a popular travel guide that the one time dark Belfast has turned into a hip and vibrant city. With little more background information, I set foot on Belfast with my wonderful work colleague Imanol (the rest of the team was already here).

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What I have experienced in less than 24 hours is willingness to help to a foreigner (you can’t hide an accent) and curious citizens about our project and about the city of San Sebastian.

To those who wiIl not be able to enjoy the full programme of the European Capital of Culture with us this year, we brought a piece of San Sebastian 2016 to them.

Lots of visitors to the Europa Transit bus that has been parked in front of the City Hall seemed very happy about it; others were a little bit disappointed because we did not load the bus with worldwide renowned pintxos of San Sebastian. I politely replied we did have food, but food for thought, as I handed them out our cultual programme with more than 500 cultural activities, hoping it will spark off a desire to fly out to us and, of course, have a taste of our delicious gastronomy.”

Before leaving Miren planned to stop off at Kelly’s Cellars for a few pints and drink to Belfast.

Merin is communications specialist at San Sebastian 2016 European Capital of Culture

At each destination the team visit a documentary will be filmed and the situation of each city will be analysed in relation to the values promoted by San Sebastian 2016, such as coexistence, understanding, solidarity and diversity.

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