Although here for only four days, Ireland has been fantastic so far! It is everything that we expected and more. The people are kind, charming, and funny. The landscape is as green and lush as I had imagined it to be. The weather is temperate, if not cool, which makes it perfect for traveling around and sightseeing. It rains nearly every day, which makes me all the more happy. Ireland is my kind of my place!
After a blissfully cool and cloud-covered morning spent in Trim, visiting the storied 800-year-old Trim Castle, we headed out for the 90-minute drive to Northern Ireland, Belfast, to be exact. It was a bit jarring when the Irish radio stations suddenly disappeared, as we crossed the border into Northern Ireland, to be replaced by BBC stations. As soon as we arrived in Belfast we found the streets to be lined with traditional Union Jack flags, the Northern Ireland flags, as well as special coronation flags (hung in honor of the recent coronation of King Charles). Clearly, we were not in Ireland anymore.
Belfast has been a really interesting place to visit. With its turbulent past, it is a place that has always intrigued me. As a young girl, I can recall hearing about "The Troubles" (as they call them) in Belfast, every evening on the news. It was not a place one would even consider visiting, with the constant violence and uprisings. However, times have changed and it is now a vibrant city with so much to see and do. I am so glad that we decided to make this one of the stops on our itinerary.
We began our morning with another hearty breakfast at our B and B in Trim, before heading out to Trim Castle. Use this link to learn more about Trim Castle: https://heritageireland.ie/places-to-visit/trim-castle/
We then headed north to Belfast, where we had a lovely lunch at Holohan's Pantry and then went to our hotel for a quick check-in. We were given a huge family room (only partially pictured here) with a queen bed and three twin beds. These family rooms don't exist in the US, but should because they're great!
In the afternoon and early evening, we went to the Titanic Museum. The Titanic was built in Belfast and started its ill-fated voyage here as well. The museum is one of the most popular attractions in Belfast. It exceeded all of our expectations. We spent a full three hours there and could have stayed for another two, if the doors were not closing at 7 PM, when we had to leave.
The timing of our visit was eerie, given the sad news about the loss of the submersible, "Titan," which went missing last week on its journey down to view the Titanic wreckage. To learn more about this extraordinary museum, use this link: https://www.titanicbelfast.com
On our first full day in Belfast, we had another hearty Irish breakfast, followed by a famous Black Taxi Tour, which focuses on The Troubles, which is a term used to describe a period of conflict in Northern Ireland that lasted about 30 years, from the late 1960s until the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. However, the origins of the Troubles can be traced back hundreds of years. To learn more about The Troubles use this link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Troubles
The tour was both informative and moving. I was shocked to find out that the Catholics and Protestants still live quite separate lives in Belfast. In fact, the gates to the area of the city where the Catholics have resided for years, are closed and locked every night and 7 PM and do not open again until the morning. We were given pens, by our guide, to sign the Peacewall. To learn more about the wall that divides this city use this link: http://www.peacewall-archive.net/interfaces/p1a0as2im7hh6wrhnio0dp5wncjze6
We found this truck along our travels, so of course we had to stop and let Graham have a photo op.
In the afternoon we visited The Ulster Transport Museum which is home to one of the most comprehensive transport collections in Europe where you can explore majestic steam locomotives, Irish-built cars, vintage motorbikes, traditional horse-drawn carriages, and so much more! To learn more about this fabulous museum use this link: https://www.ulstertransportmuseum.org
Our last two stops of the day were the Botanic Gardens of Belfast, where were saw the most magnificent collection of European rose varieties, followed by an exquisite dinner at Nu Delhi Lounge Indian Restaurant, which once again, was one of the best Indian meals I have ever eaten. The kids loved it and we devoured every bite!