Well. For a few days, we’re back from our trip to Ireland. We stayed there for 10 days and added three more to head to Lake Garda. Just because we can and because we wanted it. But more about that later.
A few years ago, Jan spent a semester abroad in Ireland and finally felt like going back again – this time with me. Having somewhat of a local with you is indeed an advantage. Jan had seen most of the places we’ve visited before. But there was luckily some new stuff for him, too.
Our road trip started in Belfast. We came from Dublin with a rental car. It was only a two-hour drive.
First Stop Belfast
If at all, most people associate Belfast with the Troubles (the 1960s to 1998). At the moment, since the Good Friday Agreement, there’s a ceasefire. Which is good, because the city really seems to recover from the riots. Around one-third of Northern Ireland’s population lives in Belfast and besides on the Black Cab Tour, you really don’t notice the conflict when visiting the city.
Black Taxi Tour
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do the Black Cab Tour. Quite the contrary. Personally, we think this was the most interesting thing the city has to offer. There are several providers.
During this Black Taxi Tour with the famous black cabs, you drive through the protestant and catholic quarters and see the most important murals. It rained a lot that day and we couldn’t have done anything better anyway.
The wall with its graffitis reminds a bit of the East Side Gallery in Berlin. They call them ‘Peace Walls’ or ‘Peace Lines’ in Northern Ireland. With these walls (and the barbed wires) the separation of certain quarters becomes visible. Though there’s peace, people feel safer this way, our driver said.
He was there during the Troubles and told us everything about the history and the circumstances, back then as well as today. Either they’re all this good at story telling or our driver Brandon was a special talent at its job. I can’t imagine a better way to be informed about the conflict.
The tour takes about 90 minutes and costs 30£.
The Queen’s University was near our Airbnb. It’s really pretty. Especially compared to our former university (Regensburg). But I think most unis probably look better than ours.
The place to be if you want to drink one or two or more pints. Ideally, we were here on a Saturday evening and the atmosphere was really good.
If you want to see a really stylish bar: it’s called the Crown Bar and it’s all in Victorian style. It’s not in the Cathedral Quarter but next to the Hotel Europa and the Grand Opera. It’s worth seeing and having a pint or two.
Belfast City Hall
The city hall is a pleasure to the eye from the inside and outside. It looks pompous.
You can get inside and just look around.
The city is really proud of its Titanic heritage. Most people know the Titanic was built in Belfast. There’s a whole quarter named after it and the museum is the most visited site of the city.
Sadly there wasn’t time left for us to see it from inside. But it’s definitely an architectural pleasure.