Tag Archives: Belfast

Last day driving and getting out of Belfast

14th May 2013

Titanic centre Belfast and original Harland &Wolff building

Titanic centre Belfast and original Harland &Wolff building

There were only two of us for the walking tour around the Titanic site this morning, a young Austrian, Julia and myself, an Australian, Julie – coincidence huh?. I wouldn’t be surprised if the guide was trying to get us to quit, she asked us about three times if we were sure we wanted to continue and be wet through by the time we finished an hour later. It was fairly miserable, cold, windy and wet, but she wasn’t getting rid of either of us that easily. This is when I actually got to see the drawing offices, they’ve been empty for more than 20 years now apparently. It’s quite sad to hear about the glory days of places like this and then see them lying idle and deserted. The tour was totally captivating, well worth the £9 fee – and it only drizzled a little!!

The Thanksgiving Statue, Belfast

The Thanksgiving Statue, Belfast

I felt bad not having seen anything of Belfast so caught the hop on hop off bus and did a circuit before I left – and learnt more about the troubles in Northern Ireland in that hour than I’ve ever known before. Once again my lack of knowledge left me feeling rather ignorant – I had never known what the fighting and fuss was all about, or even who was fighting for what. I also learnt that the Peace Walls in Belfast have stood longer than the Berlin Wall, and judging by current events, they won’t be coming down any time in the near future either.

It was all very well choosing somewhere to stay based on the ease of navigating my way there, but I didn’t give a thought to finding my way back out again, so when I got in the car to head off and realized this fact, I just about lost the plot. You know the classic scene where someone is banging their head on the steering wheel and wailing about some major catastrophe? Well, I was just about there – but, instead I just drove off and hoped for the best – oh, I also kept my eyes peeled for signs too. You wouldn’t believe it, but, I soon found signs that actually read, “THE SOUTH” and “THE WEST” – wootwoot!!

Gorgeous facade, Belfast

Gorgeous facade, Belfast

Who’d have thought driving from Belfast to Rosslare would take so long, it doesn’t look far on the map but took me four or five hours – huge drive over here! I’m so pleased to be car-less when I go back to Dublin, it was bad enough trying to bypass it let alone drive through it. I did my normal trick when I got to the little village of Tagoat near Rosslare, had to ask where the B&B was; the old guy at the pub came outside with me and pointed back the way I had come and across the road, on the side of the hill was Coral Gables B&B – in plain sight if you were coming from the ferry, not so much from the way I’d come. Well, that’s my story, anyway, hahehehe. I was the only guest there that night so took myself out to the lounge and had a fine old time cutting up brochures and sticking bits and pieces in my journal – you couldn’t really call it scrapbooking but it’s the closest thing I’ve got at the moment.

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Filed under Mid-life travel, Northern Ireland, Travel

Yay, a good day in Northern Ireland!

13th May 2013

With a bit of backtracking again this morning I got out of Derry and headed in the right direction to see the Giants Causeway. Came across a sign for the Giants Causeway Scenic Route, yeah, I’ll take that, better than staying on the highway. Then I kept passing these little signs about some road being closed between certain times but didn’t take too much notice until I came to a bloody road-block – WTF again! I cannot believe the trouble I am having with getting from A to B at the moment. Okay, turn around and head back to where I’d seen a couple of vans turn off earlier and go that way; oops, I’ve gone from small road to even smaller one, but it’s too narrow and wet to turn around so I keep going and eventually come out somewhere near where I’d turned originally. One day I am going to learn, look it all up properly, take notes and follow the damn directions, don’t take detours – one day………

Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland

Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland

I didn’t realize but the Giants Causeway is under the National Trust and classified by Unesco so there’s a massive visitors centre and car park quite a way from the site with all the whizz bang facilities. Shop, cafe, interactive displays, guided tours, audio tours and buses to ferry you back and forth if you wish. I got my audio guide and headed down on foot, at times I almost got blown along, the wind was ferocious. It really is well worth a visit and they present their tours and information in a very original and entertaining way. The mythical story of how the causeway came to be is much more fun than the scientific facts, guess that’s to be expected though. I thought I’d only be there maybe half an hour or so but dragged myself away after a few hours to face the road again.

Finally I used some common sense when booking a place to stay; as probably my only sightseeing in Belfast will be the docks where the Titanic was built, I looked for something around that area. See, my thinking was that it should be well signed, because they now call it the Titanic Quarter. Yay, I was right for once, big signs all the way and straight to the hotel with no dramas, even had time to take in the big new centre this afternoon as it stays open until 7 at night.

Entrance to the Titanic Centre, Belfast

Entrance to the Titanic Centre, Belfast

Now, if you have even the slightest interest in the story of the Titanic, this is one excellent place to go. I’m always a bit skeptical when they put these big visitor centers in, but this one is something else. I would go so far as to say it’s the best of this type of thing I’ve ever visited. There are nine different galleries that take you from conception to the aftermath and if you go to Belfast, do not miss it. I absolutely loved it and am coming back tomorrow for a walking tour around the dock area for more of all things Titanic.

So, two successful visits in one day – in Ireland, no less – maybe my luck has made a turn for the better; fingers crossed!

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Filed under Mid-life travel, Northern Ireland, Travel