Monday, March 7, 2016

Belfast

Belfast is a great city! I had no idea what to expect and was really happily surprised with the contrast between the rich history and the contemporary vibe with new restaurants/bars! We spent two days exploring and I think we covered all the hot spots.

Our first stop was at the famous St. George's Market. This placed was a mix of food, jewelry, crafts, live music and more. It was a great market and if it hadn't been our first day of vacation I easily would have bought a scarf or two! We did see a pillow with my name which was pretty shocking to me. As a kid I could never find anything with my name (everything was always with a "y"). I guess my name is more Irish than I thought?! Lol!




We continued our exploring and came across this shopping center called Victoria Square with a big dome at the top. You could climb a spiral staircase to get to the top so we did (had to get those steps in after sitting on an overnight flight and then in a car for many hours). I can't say the views from the top were all that amazing but it was fun anyway!


The Titanic Belfast museum is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Belfast and it is also one of the most modern buildings. The Titanic was built in Belfast and this museum goes through all the details of that time period in Belfast. It was really interesting and visiting made me want to go back and watch the movie again! I still haven't done that but one of these days. We were lucky to be there in the off season so that it wasn't that busy and we could move right along which was nice.


In addition to walking all over the city we did a Hop On/Hop Off bus tour and a black taxi tour. Since it was cold and rainy at times it was nice to take shelter but still see the sights. With this combo of exploring we were able to get different perspectives of the city and hear from several different tour guides which was awesome. One of the highlights was learning about "The Troubles" and seeing the murals. (This cute cow was painted on a store front and since I love cows I needed a pic)!




This is one of the gates that separates the Catholic/nationalists side of the city from the Protestant/unionists side of the city. Believe it or not these gates still close every night and all day on Sundays despite Northern Ireland being in a peaceful place now.











The murals send such strong political messages. We were taken to the Protestant side of the city by our tour guide so that is why most of my photos are of those. We saw the Catholic murals too but we were on the bus and it was rainy!



The wall that divides the two sides of the city is huge! It really is hard to imagine what it was like to live there during that time. I can't even believe that this all went on so recently. There are still cameras everywhere! Northern Ireland has come a long way! After we did the historical part we were ready to hit the pubs!



My favorite pub that we visited was Duke of York. It was on the cutest alley with these red lights strung across the buildings. The outside (pictured above) was so traditional Ireland and the inside had the coolest decorations. On top of that they had an Irish session and some of the most entertaining guests who we chatted with during our visit!





My favorite meal in Belfast was at the Cloth Ear. I had this amazing chicken curry! It was a stop above a pub and despite the service being crappy it was still great. We then ventured next door to the swanky hotel bar at The Merchant (which use to be the headquarters for a bank). We knew we could only afford one drink here if we wanted to have any money left to eat/drink during the rest of our trip! I had a Pimm's Cup and it was as pretty as the photo in the menu!

It was a great way to wrap up our two days in Belfast! We had a great time and got to see a lot during our visit! It is worth a visit for sure if you ever plan a trip to Ireland!

Next up: our scenic drive along the Causeway Coastal Route (and my favorite day despite most things being closed due to the high winds).


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