Near Belfast, Belfast
There is a saying in the UK (and possibly elsewhere) that you are getting old when police officers start looking young. This may well be true. Where do you stand, however, when you visit a museum and remember a good proportion of the exhibits from your childhood? Well, this was exactly what happened to me when I visited the Ulster Folk Museum earlier this year. Actually, as the attached website shows, the correct name is the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum, situated a few miles from Belfast. This is slightly misleading as the two places are distinct entities on two sides of a main road. I had intended to visit both but got so engrossed in the Transport portion that I was too late to visit the Folk part which, if memory serves is well worth a visit as well. I suppose I can pay the place no higher compliment than that.
As you might imagine, it is a history of transport in Northern Ireland, although the rail section is the central museum for that subject covering the whole island. With my maternal grandfather having been a railwayman and me having a great love for trains, this took up a lot of my time and is, indeed, hugely impressive.
The Museum comes right up to date with exhibits concerning jet aeroplanes and even space travel. Children will absolutely love this place.
I took a huge amount of photographs, far too many for a simple "things to do" tip, so I will also construct a travelogue on my Belfast page to accomodate them. I really do recommend a visit here and I do not propose to go into detail of all the exhibits. The website gives a good idea, and hopefully my photos will add a little colour to that.
You might think that this museum is just a haven for plane-spotters, train-spotters and spotty-spotters, but no, put away your preconceptions.
The museum has three man halls that are dedicated to rail, road and runway. This is the national museum, for the whole island of ireland - both North and South. There is also a small minature railway that runs on summer sundays if it isn't raining.
The displays contain a good range of exibits, which are nicely accented by the use of life size models - a firebrige rescuing a cat, a 50's family out on a picnic by car, an open top tram with a brawl going on (must be from Belfast that one).
One very unusual exhibit is an example of a Delorean car. This was the machine that the American con-artist, alleged drug dealer and all-round cad convinced the British goverment that he could build at a profit in the province. He took the government, who were desperate to provide real jobs in Northern Ireland, to the cleaners. It failed, unsurprisngly, almost as soon as it began. Some examples did roll off the production lines and the car became known all over the world through it's use in the "Back to the Future" series of films.
Another highlight is the 'Titanic' exhibition. I tried to see the film when it came out, but they were queueing around the block and only letting women and children in !
I took a black cab tour that was offered by my hostel, Arnies Backpackers. I highly recommend it. The guide took us through all of the major neighborhoods where there has been conflict and explained to us the different meanings of the murals that have been painted on the sides of houses.
This is located about 15 min away from Giant's Causeway, and about 1 hr from Belfast. While the site itself was extremely scenic and beautiful, the rope bridge was very crowded. In fact, we had all paid tickets to walk across the bridge, but upon seeing the large line we opted not to.
I would not drive out of my way to see this attraction, however if you are already in the area, it is worth a visit. Despite the long disneyland-ish lines, it does provide a beautiful scenic walk around the Irish coast. However, I would check out the actual bridge before purchasing tickets (you can walk all the way to the bridge w/o buying tix).
Giant's Causeway is about a hour away from Belfast, and it's worth the trip. It is a natural site on the coast of Ireland consisting of thousands of octagonal shaped rocks, neatly stacked in columns along the shore. It is a truely amazing site, and the scenery in the area is breathtaking. Be prepared for a bit of a crowd, as it is a popular tourist destination.
When we visited, we got lost finding the exact path to Giant's Causeway, and we ended up taking a long walk along the coast. I think we parked too soon (we parked near the Bushmills railway) , but nevertheless the scenery along the walk was worth the effort! If you have the time, I would highly recommend walking around the countryside near the Giant's Causeway. You'll skip the crowds and be able to more fully experience the beauty of the Irish countryside.
Not exactly but maybe? March is the time for planting potatoes and this field close to the Giant's Ring (see my albums) is being made ready for this year's crop. By the middle of July the potatoes will be ready for harvest. Irish people have a long history of having potatoes as a staple ingredient of their diet. Whilst this has changed rapidly in the last 30 years the humble potato remains a significant food comodity.
The patterns, texture and colours created in these agricultural processes have, for me, an intrisic sense of art . And on a grand scale. I enjoy the visual challenge of such scenes.
This blaze of colour in Castlereagh signals the arrival of spring. I could not resist the showy optimism they shouted in the early sunshine, snapped the picture and decided to brighten up my Belfast page. I am reliably informed that 'Polyanthus' is the name of these colourful springtime gems.
Get out of the city at least once!
Climb Cavehill or napoleons Nose as the locals call it for great views over the city and lough
Visit the Giants Ring - prehistoric circular mound
Walk the lagan tow-path in south belfast
'Hillside' by name and aspect! This pub serves great food and speciality ales. It is well worth a visit.
The Giant's Causeway is located on the north coast of Ireland with fascinating views of the clifts and rock formations set along side the green pastures and farms of the area.