Monday, August 21, 2017

Titanic Belfast

One of the many sites in Belfast to see is where the famous ocean liner Titanic was constructed.   Belfast is my favorite city in Ireland.

A tour through what is billed the greatest attraction in the world was a little overhyped, but Titanic Belfast was still a marvel to see. Not only was it located in the shipyard where the Titanic was built it also had a great story on the history of Belfast at the time.

We all know the story or we think we do.  The ship that was supposed to be unsinkable, a perceived modern marvel of man's conquest over nature.  It was a lesson that in some ways we have failed to learn.  The Titanic one of three Olympus Class cruise ships that were built on this site and is probably the most-discussed ship in modern times.

Titanic Belfast building is 8 stories of time travel during which this ship was being built.  Nicknamed the Iceberg by locals it is filled with a maritime history exhibit which is the huge backstory to this amazing vessel.  The building looks down on the shipyard slips where Titanic and Olympus were built.

A few years ago we visited Halifax in Canada.  This is where many of the recovered bodies are buried.  Rescue operations were mounted from Halifax.  They also have an interesting Titanic display in their Maritime Museum, with a lot of recovered debris.

Titanic is forever woven into the fabric of Belfast they are inseparable.  If you make it to Belfast make sure this is your first stop.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Belfast a City in Transition

In Dublin, we board a train at Connelly Station for the quick 2 hour trip to Belfast.  We leave Ireland and are going to Northern Ireland which it's part of the United Kindom.     For many Irish it's not by choice,  many in the country are not happy about this.   When we entered the suburbs of Belfast you started to see the Union Jack, identifying loyalist enclaves/neighborhoods that support the crown.

When you got off the train you could feel something in the air.  If you know the history of this place you can understand the underlining tension.  Even though a peace treaty between Sinn Féin, the Irish Republican Army, and the British Government has existed since 2005 you could still see armored police cars driving around the city.  We saw news stories of adolescent gang violence across Northern Ireland. Even with all this, we felt safe in the city even though it seemed divided in many ways.  Many establishments pride themselves on once being part of the Irish Nationalist Movement.

We're here to go to Downpatrick, where St. Patrick is buried and to see the Titanic Center in the harbor area, Belfast was more of a mystery to us.  We are in Belfast a very short time just two full days, but I'm very impressed by this place, it lacks the tourist elements that was in Dublin, which to me is a good thing.

The cathedral quarter is where all the churches from all the different denominations are which I find kind of odd, it was on a beautiful tree lined street.  It's hard to imagine this place during all the conflict.  The center of town is dominated Albert Memorial Clock one of Belfast's best-loved landmarks.  It is unofficially their own leaning tower, being that it is 1.3 meters off center at the top.

One thing I noticed things to seem to be cheaper here. In Ireland, we used the Euro and now the British Pound in Northern Ireland.  There is a strong union influence here in Belfast with union murals all over the city.

I recommend a trip to Belfast to anyone.  There is a unique feeling here that can't be missed. The city is booming with construction cranes everywhere, they seem to be transitioning into one of the most modern cities in Europe.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

A Trip to the British Isle's

What a trip, Ireland, Dublin, Belfast, then a ferry over to Great Britain.   A train from Stranrger to Newcastle.  Then an 8 day walk along Hadrian's Wall from Newcastle to Carlisle.  The whole reason why we came here.  After that down to Liverpool then another train to Holyhead to catch a Ferry which takes me back to Dublin.  It was literally, planes, trains, and automobiles, with a couple of ferries thrown in.

Hadian's Wall, from the North Sea to the Irish Sea. Newcastle to Carlisle across Great Britain. The length of Hadrian'sWall.   We walked over 90 miles during 8 days.  Walking along a wall the Romans built over 1000 years ago.  It's hard to imagine what it was like, but it's safe to say a soldiers life has changed very little since then.

Then it was off to Liverpool to see the Beatle sites and much more. I think that when most people think of England, London comes to mind. Liverpool is a hidden gem.  Liverpool was heavily bombed during the war so the city center is relatively new. Liverpool sustained the most civilian casualties during the Blitz. Who would have thought? But what I like most is the pedestrian downtown a huge outdoor mall and gathering place, full of restaurants and mixed use space. Let's not forget the Tate Museum where there was a great exhibit on the work of Otto Dix.

There were many great interesting people that I met on this trip.  Cabin drivers, bed and breakfast host's, fellow walkers of the wall.  They all had such interesting stories to tell.   A big shout out to Baggage Transfer Plus and Ian Blythe. Who made our 90-mile walk across England worry free. We had great accommodations and baggage transfers all across Hadrian's Wall Path.  It was a lifetime of great experiences.

It was a trip that I dreamed about for a long time and now it's over.  The memories remain, it will take a while to rehash them.  It feels a little surreal that all this happened.  I must get them written down before I forget, so stay tuned.