Blogs from County Antrim, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom, Europe

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Tourism in Northern Ireland has a lot to offer and has come on in leaps and bounds in the last few years. The natural splendours of the North Antrim Coast – Giants Causeway, Dunluce Castle et al – take some beating in the scenery stakes. However, I probably won’t be the first to comment that some of the highlights of any trip to Belfast are based on the less obvious attractions of a ship that hit an iceberg and sunk and 30 odd years of civil unrest. If you look at a map of Belfast, you see division. I say that specifically in terms of the road geography. The M1 motorway sweeps in from one direction and the M2 from another. They are linked by what is known as the Westlink, which physically cuts off West ... read more
Botanic Gardens
Northumberland Street, West Belfast
Shankill Road, West Belfast


The Other Half had checked her step counter and decided I had walked her too far the previous day. It was not Barcelona mileage, but she reckoned that over 9 miles was pushing it a bit far on her dodgy foot. She insisted a bus day ticket was the order of the day. I checked the timetables. Buses early on a Sunday morning were best described as sparse, but we intercepted a 7 on the way into the city centre. I purchased our 2 all day tickets at £4 each. The plan was to link with one of the shiny new Glider buses that ferry folk across the city, with a view to arriving at the Titanic Experience around opening time. We were ahead of schedule and the G2 didn't start running until 9:30 am, but ... read more
Titanic Experience, Belfast
Titanic Experience, Belfast
Titanic Experience, Belfast


The last time I was in Northern Ireland was in 2001. I used to travel there at least half a dozen times a year on business and had done so for the previous 10 years. At the time, my work colleagues had tried to avoid any visits there and after my recruitment, it soon became "my area". We had grown up watching news of "The Troubles" and despite the heavy duty military presence and constant security alerts, I enjoyed pretty much every trip. I can recall everybody always telling me to be "careful" and the employer recommendation was to overnight away from Belfast. I soon dispensed with that idea. I was often in some form of perceived danger, but mostly through overdosing on Guinness. I thought I had seen all the good, the bad and the ... read more
Salmon of Knowledge, Belfast
Dee Street, Belfast
Scottish Provident Building, Belfast

Europe » United Kingdom » Northern Ireland » County Antrim October 18th 2018

Thursday October 18 - We had breakfast again at the house before leaving. All of the airbnbs that we’ve stayed at on this trip have offered breakfast - some cooked and some continental, but all were lovely. Today we finished the Antrim coast drive. We headed first to nearby Dunluce castle to take a peek, and then to Portrush to look around. Next we headed to Whiterocks beach. We ate some chips in the car for lunch and then walked over to Downhill Demesne and Mussenden Temple. I’m glad we walked because it was pretty, and I think the site was closed, so I’m not sure we could have parked/entered from the front. The Demesne is an old large house that is in ruins now, after maybe 60 years of being unoccupied. The Temple was built ... read more
Dunluce Castle
Dunluce Castle (old town square)
Dunluce Castle

Europe » United Kingdom » Northern Ireland » County Antrim October 17th 2018

Wednesday October 17 - Today we went to the Giant’s Causeway. It’s a large area of interlocking basalt columns that date to about 60 million years ago, formed from a volcanic eruption. The columns are large and hexagonal, which looks really cool. We decided to do a five mile coastal hike to get there. We parked at the ruins of Dunseverick Castle and hiked in. The hike was beautiful, but it was a little cold and got windy at times. The weather was a little nuts - cold, windy, rainy, hot, sunny...We thought it would take 2-3 hours to get there, based on what our host told us, but it was more like 90 minutes. It was quite cloudy when we got there, and it almost just started to rain, but then it cleared up quite ... read more
Photo bomb
Coastal hike
Coastal hike

Europe » United Kingdom » Northern Ireland » County Antrim October 16th 2018

Tuesday October 16 - Didn’t sleep very well and had to get up at 5am to get ready for the flight. We got to the car rental return around 6am, a little nervous that there would be problems, after our hideous pick-up in Bristol. But it was very easy and they drove us a few others back to the airport without any problems. We checked in with Easyjet, dropped off our bag and found a place to sit down. Our flight was at 8:45 so we were a bit early. We ate our sandwiches and played around on wifi. My computer had been acting up, and I was very worried it would die, but it still worked, even if it took a few failed attempts to get it going. The flight boarded before they even really ... read more
Carrickfergus castle
On top of castle
Gulls

Europe » United Kingdom » Northern Ireland » County Antrim » Belfast September 24th 2018

So we arrived in Belfast this morning. After brekky we did a load of washing and then relaxed and read our books, being interrupted by the butler who was concerned about which shoes Tom was wearing to tonight’s formal dinner, and could he give them a clean, which he duly did. We had been given a choice of shore excursions but I was still grieving for the west coast ports we are missing out on and hadn’t been tempted by them. Tom wanted to go to the Titanic museum, whereas I didn’t like the idea of going to a sunken ship museum when I was on a cruise! So after an early lunch Tom went ashore on his excursion while I had a nap and did some sewing and reading. While he was out we received ... read more
I didn’t eat all of that!

Europe » United Kingdom » Northern Ireland » County Antrim » Belfast August 30th 2018

Was able to sleep in a bit this morning, which was nice. I had booked a black cab tour and was being picked up at 10am. My driver, John, arrived on time and we set off in his black cab. The purpose of the tour today was to get a better understanding of what the people of Belfast call "The Troubles" and to visit some of the locations that have become synonymous with this period in their history. Our first stop was on Falls Rd to see the International Wall and John explained where all the angst began. We are commonly told it was a fight between Catholics and Protestants but the conflict was primarily political and nationalistic, fuelled by historical events. The Unionists/loyalists, who were mostly Protestants, wanted Northern Ireland to remain within the United ... read more
Various heros from the Nationalists
Not a boy band .....
Another mural that speaks against the British

Europe » United Kingdom » Northern Ireland » County Antrim » Belfast August 29th 2018

I was collected from just around the corner from my hotel at 8:15 for the Game of Thrones tour. Here was me thinking I was lucky and was the only person in the tour! Not to be - this guy just drove me to the head office of Irish Tours so I could join up with the group - of 50 other people lol. Once everyone was on board, we were on our way. Our tour guide's name was Sharleen and she had been an extra in Season 6. She was a wildling that hadn't yet turned into a white walker so spent most of her time just lying on the ground haha. She did advise that it would be hard to meet someone in Belfast that wasn't somehow involved in Game of Thrones! The drive ... read more
The stairs Arya crawled up
Arya in Carnlough Harbour
The Stormlands leading to the cave

Europe » United Kingdom » Northern Ireland » County Antrim » Belfast August 28th 2018

After breakfast I checked out of my hotel slightly prior to 9am and then walked for about 15 minutes to the train station. My train was departing at 9:30am so I had enough time to grab a coffee. The trip took 2 and 1/2 hours and I arrived in Dublin Heuston station at 11:55am. I then made my way out to the Luas (lightrail) for 25 minute trip to Dublin Connolly station. My train to Belfast wasn't departing until 1:20pm so I had time to have some lunch at the station. After lunch I decided to use the bathroom at the cafe but when I went to unlock the stall, I couldn't get the door to open. I tried turning the small knob many times but nothing happened. There was no where to grip either the ... read more
200+ years of history - gone
The big blue fish
Sister ship of the Titanic




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