United Kingdom
Belfast

Here you’ll find travel reports about Belfast. Discover travel destinations in the United Kingdom of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.

67 travelers at this place:

  • Day10

    Belfast

    September 12, 2016 in the United Kingdom

    It didn't occur to us how Belfast in Northern Ireland was a city with such recent history that is still evident in everyday life. Northern Ireland which is its own country is full of modern day religious/political tension dividing the city of Belfast between the Protestants who support British rule and the Catholics who support the traditional Irish culture. We took a black cab taxi tour to the various parts of town and saw murals that depicted the history and even saw the gates that are still closed every night between the two parts of town. The craziest thing for us was to learn that not many people are religious anymore but still practice this hatred for each other. Almost 90% of schools there are still segregated in 2016!

    Our favorite quote from our taxi driver was "these Protestants are more British than the Brits!" He did a great job giving us insight into the traditions still held including the annual bonfires by the Protestants which are quite massive and held right in the center of town and showed us the steel walls put up to divide the two sides which now a days has messages of peace and love written on it from tourists, as well as dents from rocks and burn marks from molotov cocktails. We got to leave our little mark as well!
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  • Day28

    Belfast

    September 28 in the United Kingdom

    Another cool day. Amazed at how different cities can be from one another. We were picked up by the black taxi and driver at 9 30 and headed off on the tour of Belfast (told from the point of view of a Catholic Taxi driver in his 60s) which lasted almost two hours. The first part of the tour took us to Shankill Rd, where he outlined the history of Belfast and the “troubles”. We visited the area and walked around the murals which have become a feature of the area. He also took us to the wall and like everyone else, we signed it. It was incredible to see it still standing at about 10 foot in each direction, separating the two parts of Belfast. He then took us to the Fall Road area on the other side of the wall where we visited a memorial garden for both civilians and IRA volunteers killed over the last 50 years. We were also shown the cages added to houses as a means of defence if they were close to the wall. He also clearly explained the meaning of the flags we see in many streets and on houses, marking the territory of each group. Turns out we are staying in the heart of Protestant Belfast! The tour ended and he dropped us in the centre of town. We spent a couple of hours looking in shops which were quite interesting. Of note was the burnt out shell of a huge shopping building which had only just gone on fire and was one of the biggest fires ever in Belfast. We wandered down to the Titanic Centre, following the river. It was an amazing building and the whole Titanic experience was excellent, particularly the fact that so much was interactive. The highlight was the ride through the building in a cable car, experiencing the boat building yard as it would have been back when the Titanic was being built. It was interesting that no relics of the actual trip are kept there as it is regarded as being tasteless yet there was a souvenir shop full of very tacky Titanic items! We grabbed a taxi ride back from town as both feeling very tired and heard yet another version of events this time from our Protestant driver! We rested up and enjoyed hot showers now that we had heard from the owner about the switch that needed to be on! We did some research and reserved dinner at a restaurant in the university quarter which was a 40 minute walk along the river and through some very interesting streets. The highlight was seeing a large flock of starlings flying in formation over the river. It really was spectacular as they grouped and re- grouped in a cloud- like formation led by one bird. We found the restaurant, Molly’s Yard easily and what a treat! It was an old stables and down stairs seated just 12 people. It was a very cute place and the staff were excellent as was the food- one of our best meals yet. We left there and walked down the road to House Belfast which was a beautiful hotel. After a lovely cocktail we caught a taxi back with one last version of “the troubles”, this time from a driver who didn’t side with either! Belfast is an intriguing place, full of history and emotion with a real edge to it.Read more

  • Day58

    Day trip to Belfast

    August 26 in the United Kingdom

    Today we hopped the train from Newry to Belfast. In Belfast we caught the Hop-on Hop-off bus tour around the city. It was rainy and wet, but we made the best of it. At one of our stops the boys signed the 'Peace Wall' which was erected in the mid-70s to segregate Protestants from Catholics. After the tour we visited White's Tavern, the oldest tavern in Belfast for some lunch. Back in Newry we visited Ashling and Stephen’s house for some evening fun.Read more

  • Day38

    Politics and a dinsoaur

    October 11 in the United Kingdom

    Today was mostly about politics and the conflict in Northern Ireland. I started out with a black taxi tour. It was educational, interesting, eye opening and sobering. My driver Kevin was 9 when the Troubles started and he’s lived in Belfast all his life.
    His insight was interesting and I saw much more than I did yesterday on the hop on hop off bus. He took me to the IRA museum. That was sobering, especially to think that this happened during my lifetime.
    One thing that did make me laugh was one of the rules at the Armagh Women’s prison.
    “Letters may not be smuggled in or out of the prison unless permission has been given beforehand”
    I saw rubber and plastic bullets that were used, they are huge. I had just assumed they were normal bullet sized.
    Part of the peace wall is covered in messages and graffiti. Bill Clinton was the first to write on the wall. I also wrote a message.

    At the end of the tour Kevin dropped me off at the City Hall. They have a comprehensive exhibition on the history of Belfast. Again it was interesting.

    From there I went to the Ulster Museum. They have “Dippy”the diplodocus carnegii dinosaur on display at the moment. He used to be in the foyer of the natural history museum so while I missed him in London I saw him here. To be honest I’m not that excited by dinosaurs but the rest of the exhibition that looked at the various differences in animal species in Ireland and the UK.
    They also had a special exhibition on the events of 1968.

    From the museum I caught the hop on hop off bus again. I wanted to hear what they had to say again. This time the tour guide was an older guy compared to the younger woman yesterday. They seemed to have quite different perspectives. He was not that optimistic about the removal of the peace walls. The guide yesterday tended to view it more as history, which to her it probably was.
    The bus was the last one of the day so I finished up in the city. I took a walk to find Vistoria Square, a shopping centre with a dome on top that gives views of the city.
    From there I got some dinner and headed back to the hotel. My phone battery was very low so I tried to find my way back using the street signs but was having no luck. Fortunately my battery lasted until I got back here.
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  • Day37

    Touring Belfast

    October 10 in the United Kingdom

    Finally the rain has gone. It was a beautiful day today, cool but not cold and nice and warm in the sun.
    I started out with the hop on hop off bus tour. I sat up the top on the left, as I usually do and found myself ducking whenever we went under trees.

    I hadn’t realised that the city was still so divided. I was vaguely aware of the political situation when I was younger but did not really know much about it. The bus took us through both Protestant/Unionist and Catholic/Nationalist areas as well as along the peace wall which divides neighbourhoods. There is still signs of the conflict. The most sobering being the houses/flats with mesh covering the windows.
    In the Catholic areas street signs are in English and Gaelic, in the Protestant areas they are in English only. The union flag and Irish flag fly in their respective areas and there are so many murals and memorials.

    I got off the bus at the Titanic museum. The museum is great and very well done. It gives a history of industry and shipbuilding in Belfast and then then the building of the Titanic right through to the aftermath of the sinking. I spent quite a lot of time there looking at all the exhibits.

    I also met up with another Pokémon playing internet friend. It was nice to trade Pokémon but it was even better just to talk to her, get her experience of living in Northern Ireland and hear her perspective on various topics. We chatted for quite a while before I went off and finished the museum.

    I got back on the bus and the next part of the tour took us up the Parliament House. All vehicles are searched as they enter the gates although this was quite perfunctory. The guard took a look on the back seat and didn’t bother going upstairs. On the way back we again went through separated parts of the city.

    I got off opposite the Europa Hotel. It’s the most bombed hotel in Europe, having been bombed over 30 times. It’s around the corner and up the street from where I am staying.
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  • Day27

    Dublin to Belfast

    September 27 in the United Kingdom

    A leisurely departure from Dublin but sad farewelling the Griffins after such a lovely time with them. They dropped us at the airport where we easily found the rental car. Our drive to Belfast was on the coastal road and it was typically beautiful scenery. We stopped at a restaurant at Annalong, a deserted fishing village, where we had a fish and chip lunch, overlooking the sea. Our trip carried on until we made a major detour in an effort to locate the family home of our neighbour as he had asked us to do this. The address was 10 Cranny Lane which ended up being a very old farming area and itself was a very old farm lane. We were able to identify the house from the one in his photo and so took several photos for him. The trip into Belfast took another hour and so it was about 6 when we arrived. We were relieved to be in a gated apartment block with parking as we are in the heart of East Belfast and the families out on the street were scary to say the least. We changed and headed off on foot towards town which was 30 minutes walk. The streets were relatively empty and we didn’t feel as safe as in other cities. However we found the main eating area, Cathedral Quarter and enjoyed pizza at a very cool place before wandering around the laneways and streets full of old Irish bars. We decided on a taxi home for three reasons- very tired, safety and we weren’t sure where our apartment was!Read more

  • Day13

    Belfast, Northern Ireland

    September 1, 2017 in the United Kingdom

    Today we went on the Hop On Hop off Bus tour of Belfast, it was wonderful to hear the Northern Irish Brogue and their craic about Belfast. Things like their famous 24 hour Tesco store that advertises it's open 24 hours a day but shuts at 9.00pm every night.

    An important part of Belfast is the Queen's Island area that has the twin yellow shipbuilding gantry cranes, Samson and Goliath, which are prominent on the city skyline. This shipyard is where Titanic was built. Although ships are no longer built here the yards are still used for the maintenance of ships and the building of the giant wind turbines that are dotted throughout the country. Also situated on Queen's Island is the studio for Game of Thrones.

    We continued onto Stormont Parliament Building which is the seat of the Northern Ireland Assembly. To camouflage the building during World War II, the building's stone was painted with supposedly removable "paint" made of bitumen and cow manure. However, after the war, removing the paint proved an enormous difficulty and still stains the stone. Now they say there is shit both inside and outside the building. Some more Irish craic.

    We toured both the Unionist and the Republican sides of the city. Belfast you have come a long way in working towards peace but still to see the physical divide of a Peace Wall that is closed off at night and on weekends is saddening. The Peace Wall is used to minimise inter-communal violence between Catholics (most of whom are nationalists who self-identify as Irish) and Protestants (most of whom are unionists who self-identify as British). One mural in particular speaks of what, I hope, will be the future. The mural is based on the poem No More and is designed to send a message to those who wish to continue violence that the next generation wants no part of it.
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  • Day134

    Day 134: Exploring Belfast

    June 29, 2017 in the United Kingdom

    Time to check out the city! We had a full day available, and planned to use it! After breakfast, our first stop was to hop in the car and drive around the peace walls district. This area is where most of the trouble is/was, as it's a border area between Unionists and Loyalists and many clashes have taken place in this area.

    The large walls erected (larger than the Berlin Wall, incidentally) are mostly still standing, though big sections of them are covered in peaceful slogans. Visitors are encouraged to bring a marker and add their own message of peace, though we didn't do that. Still a lot of sharply pro-Union and pro-UK murals though! And we drove around the two opposing neighbourhoods with all their flags and bunting. It all seemed a bit provocative, and even though a peace agreement was signed in 1998, things still feel a bit tense.

    It started to rain so we drove into the centre of town to one of the best museums in the UK - the Titanic Belfast museum. This huge new museum is dedicated to the Titanic and although it was pricey, it was actually really well done. It started with the context of the time period, the background of Belfast in the late 19th century converting from agriculture and linen production to shipbuilding, the reasons for building huge liners like Titanic and her sisters Olympic and Britannic, the maiden voyage, the sinking, the aftermath, and then sections on the wreck's discovery too.

    The whole thing was huge and took several hours to go around, and was really well done. Not stuffy and boring like museums can sometimes be, but very well-presented and thoughtful. Good recreations of things like the shipyards, cabins on board, the lifeboats and so on. The museum is built on the site where Titanic was constructed, and the slipway is actually still there. Good view from the point where she was slid down into the sea, and you could see into the adjacent Titanic Studios, where all of the indoor scenes for Game of Thrones are filmed!

    We grabbed some lunch here as well, but it was mid-afternoon by the time we'd finished. Briefly headed across the road to look at the SS Majestic, a small tender that was the only White Star Line ship still afloat. Its claim to fame is that it was one of the tenders used to ferry passengers and cargo from Cherbourg port to Titanic before she departed (I'd forgotten Titanic called at Cherbourg and Queenstown in Ireland before heading off into the Atlantic).

    From here we drove down into the middle of the city, parked up and went exploring. The Victorian-era City Hall was very impressive, and beautiful on the inside. A couple had just gotten married in the registry office and were a little bemused by all the Chinese tourists taking their photograph! Also wandered around outside checking out the street art - one area in particular outside a famous pub had 20-30 murals of famous (northern) Irish like U2, George Best, Liam Neeson and others, plus some political commentary as well. Very interesting.

    Feeling fairly exhausted, we drove back home and dropped into a Thai restaurant around the corner from our house. Hadn't had Thai food for a long time so this felt like a slight taste of home. Food was decent enough, though not the same quality you get in Sydney. Back home where we whiled away the evening on laptops and smartphones as usual!
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  • Day133

    Day 133: Across the Sea

    June 28, 2017 in the United Kingdom

    Exciting times - leaving the mainland UK for the first time on our trip (aside from Anglesey and Orkney I guess). Packed up and left our flat at the usual time, and started driving south. We actually didn't have much to do today either other than drive about two hours south of Glasgow to Cairnryan, where the ferry stop was.

    We basically just drove in one hit, minus a brief stop to pick up a couple of takeaway sandwiches for lunch which we ate in the car. Arrived at the ferry wharf well in advance of our sailing (departure time was 3:30pm, last call at 3pm, we arrived at 1pm). Took up our spot in the queue and then just sat around waiting outside the terminal building as Schnitzel wasn't allowed in.

    Finally we boarded, found our car space and headed upstairs. Schnitzel came too but had to stay in his carrier, thankfully he's fairly happy doing that. Boat was very large, carrying probably 50-60 trucks as well as lots of cars, caravans and foot traffic. Passenger decks very comfortable, with armchairs, tables, a restaurant, cafes, TVs, a couple of Playstations and of course a spa centre! We just grabbed a table near the window and settled in.

    The crossing was mercifully brief and uneventful - about 2.5 hours and you'd barely even notice the boat was moving. No rolling or pitching up and down thankfully! Arrived right on time into Belfast at 6pm, where we fumbled our way across the city (confusing maze of streets!!) to our accommodation. We're staying in a large terraced house along with the owner and a couple of other people. They weren't home so we let ourselves in with the keys from a lockbox nearby. Even though we've done it a bunch of times now, it still feels really strange to let yourself into a total stranger's house!

    Went out to grab some dinner at a nearby Mexican restaurant. We're staying just near the uni so there's loads of cheap and tasty places nearby. Lots of food fairly cheap, especially considering it's a city, though the medium-heat sauce was pretty mild by my reckoning. Back home to bed for an early night, as I think it's going to be a busy one tomorrow!
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  • Day52

    Ships and Walls, Prisons and Castles

    August 24, 2017 in the United Kingdom

    Snapshot
    Where - Belfast, Capital of Northern Ireland
    Weather - fine
    Steps - 12700 or 8km and 11 floors

    We did not know very much about Belfast but after our visit we found out some rather surprising things. We knew the Titanic was built in Belfast and consequently they built a whole exhibition around it which really draws in the crowds. It is a rather impressive building and the display was quite good.

    We took a Black Taxi tour around the Belfast murals. We were aware of the "troubles " that existed in Northern Ireland and particularly Belfast in the past but did not realise that there still exists a wall that separates the Loyalists (those that support the British flag - Protestant), from the Catholics , and the gates are locked every day at 7.30pm (3.30pm on Sunday). It is this wall that has murals on it that are ever changing depending on what they want to emphasise at the time. For example there is a mural depicting Civil Rights leaders such as Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King.
    The troubles still exist, although not in the sense of the IRA (Catholics) killing Loyalists (Protestants) and vice versa; but more in gangs and drug related problems.

    The next day we visited Crumlin Road Gaol which was still in operation up until about 20 years ago and it was a very interesting tour about what it would have been like to be imprisoned here. When it went out of service as a prison, it was reopened as a tourist attraction by some former inmates (one of whom was the First Minister - like a Premier).

    We had time to look around the gardens of Belfast Castle before catching the ferry back to Scotland and onto the southern area of the UK.
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Belfast, بلفاست, Горад Белфаст, Белфаст, বেলফাস্ট, Béal Feirste, Belffast, Μπέλφαστ, Belfasto, Beul-Feirste, Beeal Feirshtey, בלפאסט, Bèlfast, Բելֆաստ, BFS, ベルファスト, ბელფასტი, ಬೆಲ್‌ಫಾಸ್ಟ್‌, 밸파스트, Belfastum, Belfastas, Belfāsta, बेलफास्ट, ဗဲလဖတ်မြို့, بیلفاسٹ, பெல்பாஸ்ட், เบลฟัสต์, Belpas, Bélfast, בעלפאסט, 貝爾法斯特

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