Reflections and images from my travels

Belfast Day 1

Perhaps it was the parking lot debacle or fatigue from driving, but, we slept in and had a very relaxed morning. There did not seem to be any reason to rush. So unlike regular life. We were on holidays by the way.

My name today was Van the Man, in honour of an Irish treasure.

Our plans were very open today. We went to a local patisserie for a flat white and light breakfast.

We were walking over to our hop on hop off bus stop and were immediately swooped down on by two separate bus operators hawking their respective tours. It was the first and only time we felt pressured in Ireland. The two operators were arguing about why their tour was better than the other’s. An Irish woman standing beside us piped in and admonished both for their behaviour and then apologized to us on behalf of the country!

We picked up our tickets at the tourist center and walked over to the first stop. The tour was quite extensive and very informative. We really enjoyed the commentary regarding the “troubles” and the political chasm that still exists in this country. However, it was clear that peace was the goal and reality of the current situation. The tour lasted almost 2 hours. We did tour the “wall” with murals that spoke to the conflict and need for peace here and other parts of the world.

We stayed on the bus the entire way and then a bit and got off at the amazing Titanic Museum. The museum has 4 edges that exactly (and I do mean exactly) match the dimensions of the front hull of the actual Titanic. Amazing architecture.

The tour was very well set up and self guided. The amount of information provided was very comprehensive. Anna particularly enjoyed the “ride” halfway through the tour. The tour was solemn when one reflected on the lives lost and the disappointment of Belfast with the sinking after the pride of building such an engineering marvel. We got lost in the displays and by the time we finished it was after 6 PM! We noted as we exited that it was raining heavily and we had missed our last bus pick up so would have to walk back to city center. I am so happy I left my rain jacket back at the hotel again!

We got soaked very quickly as we walked back. We escaped the rain in the Odyssey Center and were surprised to find a Canadian themed sports bar called “The Rockies”. Of course, we had to stop for a pint.

We walked on and Anna found at least three Game of Thrones stained glass panels to photograph. She also got a picture of me soaked on the pedestrian bridge as we walked back to city center.

We quickly looked for a warm pub and found one in Henry’s. The bar was very cool- contemporary traditional Irish- with live music and a healthy selection of ales and spirits. We had a nice meal and then returned to our own own lounge for a nightcap. A nice end to a good day!

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