Unless you’ve muted me on Twitter (kudos for not just unfollowing) or pleaded ignorance to my incessant Instagram updates over the last few days, then you would have seen that I took a little trip to Belfast. All very kindly arrange by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, it was a trip which was actually *cheese alert* life changing. Not only did I get to spend 48 hours away from home, in a city I’d never been to, with a challenge of fitting as much as I could in to that time frame – but at the age of 28 (29 in a few days, don’t forget my presents) I’d never been on a plane. There’s a few reasons for this, the main ones being the lack of desire to go anywhere abroad because I’m a wimp inside, and also lack of money alongside the complete Krypton Factor getting a passport appears to be. I also assumed that flying would be pretty darn scary. Things just tend to get a bit scarier the older you get. I’m now at the stage where I cry at spiders, won’t go in the deep end at a swimming pool and I’ll be damned if I go to the shop alone at night. As I said. I’m a wimp. Flying seemed like one of those things which I thought I could never do. But honestly, it was an absolute breeze! The only time I became nervous was during the actual take off, and I did a weird manic LAUGH CRY. I was shaking a bit, laughing hysterically, but also started to cry. Yup, it was a bit weird. Once we were in the air though, above the clouds, it was all too surreal to be scared of. Almost like it was some kind of weird dream. It just didn’t look real. Touch down was a bit scary too I guess, but only because you can’t see ahead of you and it zooms along the ground pretty quickly before coming to an actual halt. But ANYWAY. I did it. Now I can actually invest in a passport and the WORLD IS MY OYSTER!!
I’ve split the Belfast experience in to two posts, so they’re not too picture heavy. I snapped about 1000 pictures altogether from the various activities, so just going to pop the minimal amount on here, as they take a while to load.
As soon as we got the Belfast airport, the taxi driver met us. Complete with a name card saying ‘Ms Lowe’ on it. I felt like bloody Kate Middleton I did! We popped in and took the 10 minute drive to the hotel and checked in. Stopping at the Park Inn, which was about 2 minutes walk to the City Hall and City Centre, it was a great base to get out and explore. As soon as we went to the end of the road we found one of City Sightseeing Tour bus stops and popped on! This was the best way to start the trip as it took us on a 75 minute journey around the points of interest and we could decide from there where we would explore in more detail later on. As expected, everyone in Ireland was just so friendly, although due to my complete ignorance I just had the Father Ted theme tune running through my head for the entire time we were there. The tour bus went around all the key locations; Belfast castle, the peace wall, Crumlin Road Gaol, The Titanic Museum and many more! After getting off the coach, we went for a quick walk around Belfast Christmas Market, which was relatively small compared to ones in cities such as Manchester, but still a lovely atmosphere, then we stopped for a quick coffee at one of the amazing coffee houses in Belfast (mine was a Cinnamon Crunch latte FYI) the popped off to our next destination…
After taking the tour and evaluating our tourist options, we decided to talk a 20 minute walk from the City Centre up to Crumlin Road Gaol (Gaol is an obsolescent spelling of the word now usually spelled jail). The guided tour took around and hour and a half and our tour guide took us around the inside and outside of this historical venue where the naughty folks came to be punished. It was so eerie and I must admit, as we were taken around and began to get dark outside I really did get a little spooked. Especially as we were given an in depth insight in to the executions which took place at the jail and shown the execution chamber – complete with ropes hanging from the ceiling! We also went down in to the basement area where there was a coffin and other apparatus used for corporal punishment back in the day. We also got to go down in to the tunnel which led prisoners underneath the road through to the courthouse on the opposite side of Crumlin Road. We were told a little ghost story where tour guides and visitors had heard and felt all kinds of strange goings on. From child’s footsteps running up and down the steps, to a cold touch on their hands. It’s definitely the kind of place which freaks me the fudge out. I was so surprised to hear that the jail actually didn’t close it’s doors until 1996. When it was first opened in 1845 it was ‘home’ to a range of ages both male and female. Some of the prisoners were actually children, and each resident was confined to their own cell to live a life of silence and religion during their time there. It was like a film set, everything is how you imagine a jail to be, with holding cells, padded cells, governors office, wings and even a graveyard. Eep! The tour only costs £8.50 and it is well worth a visit if you ever find yourself in Belfast. I’d definitely go again.
After we’d had an amazing time at Crumlin Road Jail, we took a brisk walk back in to town to get some food! We stumbled upon a cute little diner style place called City Picnic. This place boasted ‘The best burgers in Belfast’ and I am pretty partial to a good burger. I went for the ‘Smoky Carnivore’ which consisted of, well, everything really. I’m a sucker for pulled pork and can’t imagine life without it, and this burger did not disappoint! In Stoke we have a distinct lack of good burger places (well, good places to eat full stop, really) and with City Picnic serving their burgers ‘medium’ done as standard, guh, I was in my essence. Served with chilli fries and a deliciously creamy coleslaw, it was the just what I needed after walking about all day. After getting up at 6am for our flights, this was the perfect was to finish our first day in Belfast.
And that wraps up my first day in Belfast! I’ll be posting the second part soon. It’s my birthday tomorrow though so for the rest of the week I’ll be getting drunk (I wish – I’ll actually be at work and eating lots of food, boo and yay).
Have you been to Belfast? Is there anywhere you wish you’d seen? Or went to and recommend for future trips? I’m getting in the mood to go back to Belfast for New Years after seeing their amazing range of deals and places to go over on this website!