More Belfast

So, I woke up this morning feeling like I’m coming down with a cold. I’m not happy about that, but I’m glad it held off so long. It’s going to make the flight home unpleasant, but at least it didn’t really cut in to my trip very much.

I hauled myself out of bed, and got moving with a fair bit of effort. The breakfast put a much nicer light on the day, and I went off to wander Belfast on a last rainy day.

My first stop was the city centre, because I knew where there was a pharmacy, and I needed cold medicine and ibuprofen. While I was down there, I went back to Victoria Square, because it’s a very cool shopping centre.

This shopping centre is attached to the pedestrian shopping area in downtown Belfast. I am fascinated by the way it blends a mall with the outdoor area. That sort of thing wouldn’t really work in Winnipeg with our weather.
In the main court is this pylon that rises up several stories to a viewing platform at the top of the dome. It’s a very cool looking shopping centre.
Only one of the pictures I took in the viewing area at the top of the dome turned out well. This one shows the Belfast skyline with the Albert Memorial Clock.

After that, I headed out to see the Ulster Museum. The bus stop was right in front of Queens University.

I love the look of this building. It reminds me of pictures I’ve seen of Cambridge.
The Ulster Museum is just around the corner from Queens University. I like the blend of styles on the building.
I am fascinated by the carved stones used in the neolithic tombs. Here’s another good example.
This one is really for my nephew, Ryan, who’s started to get interested in knights and kings. This is the inauguration chair of the O’Neills, where the O’Neill kings sat while they were crowned.
A beautiful replica of a celtic cross at the Ulster Museum.

The rain let up for a little while around then, and I took the opportunity to take a wander around the Botanic Gardens that surround the Ulster Museum.

Just inside the gates of the Botanic Gardens.
So much of the garden is very green, even in October. This makes the few trees with leaves that have changed colour really stand out.
The rose garden was still in bloom.
The garden is a neat mix of autumn leaves with blooming flowers. Not something you see in Winnipeg.
The Palm House. Sandy would love this place. It’s hot, humid, full of lush plants…
…with sculptures peeking out through the ferns and foliage…
…and chairs set here and there in the midst of the plants for students to sit and sketch.

I also managed to have lunch at The Crown, the oldest bar in Belfast. It’s a glorious place, full of etched glass, stamped tin roof, gold trim, and actual gaslights. It was way too packed for me to get a picture, but you can see one here.

I also tried walking out to the area where the Titanic was built, but it really started raining again, and I lost my motivation. Sorry, gang.

So, I made it back to the Old Rectory. Tonight is my last night here, and then I’m back to Dublin on the bus. I want to hit Grafton Street one last time to pick up some last-minute gifts for folks back home.

I’m gonna miss the Old Rectory, though.

The Antrim Coast

Y’know, I’ve stayed in some really good places on this trip: Ariel House, Garnish House, The Moorings, Saddler’s House. Now, I’m at the Old Rectory and I have to say I like it best of all. This is not to denigrate any of the other places I’ve stayed – they were all great – but the Old Rectory is absolutely amazing.

Mary and Gerry are both great people – friendly and helpful and very welcoming. My room is great, and breakfast this morning was the best I’ve had in Ireland. Again, this is not to say I haven’t had good breakfasts in other places, but this one tops it.

So, if you’re coming to Belfast (and you should come to Belfast – it’s a wonderful city), this is the place you want to stay.


Today I took a tour of the Antrim Coast with the Black Taxi company. Norman was my driver, and he was a really good guide. Unfortunately, it rained pretty much all day, so we didn’t linger at a lot of places, and where I did go, I got soaked. This also meant that some of my pictures didn’t turn out because of water on my camera lens. But I got some.

Our first stop was the Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge.

This is the Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge. It’s about a hundred feet above the rocky sea, linking the mainland to an island. Fishermen used to use it to cross to the island for salmon fishing.
Here’s a shot from the island side of the bridge. In some ways, coming down the wet metal stairs was scarier than crossing the narrow, bouncing rope bridge.
This is the kind of rocky island terrain around Carrick-A-Rede.
Some of the islands off the coast at Carrick-A-Rede.

The next stop was the Giant’s Causeway. It really started raining and blowing out there, so I have fewer usable pictures than I wanted.

The Giant’s Causeway was pretty much awash with waves and rain and spray. But it was very cool.
I got out farther on the Causeway, but those pictures are all spray-splattered.
Speaking of spray-spattered, this is the Gaint’s Boot. It’s about four feet tall.
High up the wall of the coast is the Organ, a set of stone rods that look like organ pipes. I walked up there, but again, the weather messed up the pictures I took. But they were cool.

Then we were on to Dunluce Castle.

This is the first view I had of Dunluce Castle as we came over the hill. Very impressive.
The castle sits on a rocky island, with steep cliffs all around.
The castle is connected to the mainland by a bridge – it used to be a drawbridge.
On the mainland part of the ruins is the remains of the lodgings for the castle. You can see that the building used to be two storeys, with small rooms, each containing a fireplace.
The remains of the castle gatehouse.
The castle itself had a seventeenth-century manor house as the main building, complete with bay windows.
Looking out of Dunluce, across the water to a high field. In medieval times, a town surrounded the castle, and the fields have been partially excavated, revealing the remains of houses and shops.
One of the remaining towers, perched high above the sea.

At that point, cold and wet and tired – there was a lot of walking, and a lot of that walking involved steep hills and slippery stone steps – we headed back to Belfast. I spent some time drying off and warming up, and then went out to dinner. I had planned to go to a restaurant called The Barking Dog, which Mary had recommended, but they were booked. Instead, I went around the corner to a place called Abacus and had some very nice chow mein.

Tomorrow, I’m going to hit the Ulster Museum, Friar’s Bush, and The Crown. My trip is almost done.

A Bit of Belfast

This is going to be a short update. I spent most of the day getting from Derry to Belfast. I’m staying at the Old Rectory, which is not really within walking distance of the bus station1, so I broke down and took a taxi rather than try an suss out the bus schedule.

The Old Rectory is amazing. My room is large, comfortable, and beautiful, and the welcome was warm and helpful. In no time at all, I had all the information I needed to find my way back to the city centre on the bus – and then back to the B&B, which is the important bit. Also, a list of good places to eat.

So, I headed off to the city centre to take a look around. Not a lot of pictures, but a couple.

This is The Spires shopping centre. How cool is that? I also need to get a picture of Victoria Square shopping centre.
This is the front of City Hall.
And here’s the side of City Hall at night.

One of the things I find I really like about every city I’ve seen in Ireland is that they all have a pedestrian-only shopping district near the city centre. Belfast is no different in that regard, but it also merges the shopping area into a large shopping centre that is open to the air except for a dome. It was a very cool place, and I’m upset that the pictures I took are all crap. I’ll have to head back there and try again.

While I was there, though, I noticed that the theatre was about to start showing Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, which I had been wanting to see. And I went and saw it.

And that’s why I don’t have more to show you today. Tomorrow, though, is my tour of the city and the Antrim coast. Should have plenty of pictures for you from that.


  1. Well, it kind of is, but not when I’m carrying my luggage. []