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Belfast in General
Member Name: jonnynec
Belfast in General
Advantages: Great place with so much to do and very easy City to get around
Disadvantages: Peoples inital impressions..before they even come here!
Belfast City... Did you ever here the saying "don't judge a book by it's cover"?
This is certainly on of these times you use that saying. Belfast has never been short of media space and newspaper headlines from Belfast to Sydney everyone had an opinion and a lot still do, but I have to wonder how many of these people have visited this City.
Im not going to tell you all about the "troubles" it is now part of our past and a very important piece of our history but it is not going to give you a view on today's Belfast, so here's the lowdown on how to get here, things to do, places to see and so on!
Getting here; Belfast is very accessible, where ever you are. Flying; With The Belfast City and International Airports you can get here now from most locations across Europe and Im guessing most of you reading this are from the UK mainland so from Glasgow, Newcastle, London and Southampton you can fly here and there are always cheap deals, if you can possibly fly from a London Airport (except Heathrow) you can usually get it at its cheapest. Aer Lingus and British Airways, although the best known of Irish and British airlines they are the most expensive with the best deals usually coming from Ryan Air, Easy Jet and Fly BE.com, but if you are coming don't just check my word have a look at all four as there can be some great specials on the first 2 now and again. From the airports there are free scheduled buses, every 20 minutes or so or if you prefer there will be a few taxis waiting.
Boat; There are a few options to get here by boat, firstly there is The Norfolkline Ferry from Birkenhead just outside Liverpool. This is the "slow boat" and a sailing takes around 8 hours or so but the plus point is that its for next to nothing, around £25 pp as a foot passenger and that includes dinner on the day sailing and dinner and breakfast on the night sailings. Car fares range from £100 to £250 but there are a few different options so you would be best to check out www.norfolkline.com for further details. Stenaline is a very popular choice with sailings from Fleetwood to Larne and Stranraer to Belfast, Stena also operate 2 services from Holyhead to Dublin, a train or bus could then be caught from Dublin to Belfast. The other is P&O Irish ferries with sailings from Troon to Larne and Cairnryan to Larne.
Train; If your coming by train there are regular services from Derry, which will call at Coleraine and Ballymena or The Dublin train that calls at Dundalk, Newry, Portadown, Lisburn and then Belfast. Check out http://www.translink.co.uk/ for more details of all the train times and offers to and from Belfast City. Road; With the new motorway connecting Dublin and Belfast it couldn't be better to get around, around 2 hours gets you from Belfast to Dublin and around an hour from Derry to Belfast.
When you get here you will need somewhere to stay and Belfast has an abundance of hotels. Jury's Inn, Premier Inn, Days, Hilton, The Europa and many more. I would personally recommend the Jury's Inn as its bang smack in the centre 5 minutes from everything and its reasonable at around 90 quid per room. Belfast also has a few hostels, but not many and not really recommendable. There are a lot of B&B's also but these tend to be on the outskirts as opposed to inner city.
Things to do; Where do I start and what are you after...
City Hall is a magnificent building, dated and like some castle you would expect to see in vast countryside is planted band smack in the centre of Belfast, on hot days hundreds of people throng the gardens of City hall basking in sunshine. Situated just beside City Hall is "Norn Iorns" very own Belfast Eye, currently this is temporary but there are plans for it to become a permanent feature.
Stormont Castle and the gardens, here at Stormont is the Northern Irish assembly and what a magnificent property, with acres upon acres of beautiful landscape all around and the Stormont Cricket Ground picturesquely sitting in the background for those who want pictures to remember this is the place.
Titanic Quarter, with the amazing Harland and Wolf cranes watching over the Titanic Quarter will not be found wanting here, The Thompson Dock & Pumphouse where the famous Titanic was fitted out before heading to Southampton for the voyage can be visited at any time but if you want a guided tour its Wednesdays and weekends only.
SS Nomadic sits here also, this ship was built along side the Titanic and also served in both World Wars and came back home to Belfast in 2006.
There are also various boat and walking trips available around the Titanic Quarter to take you through the history of the Titanic.
The Odyssey Arena, here you can catch the impressive Belfast Giants hockey side or if your lucky catch up with some great music acts from Oasis to Boyzone. The Odyssey is Belfast premier live venue with Darts, concerts, wrestling and horse shows played here all year round. Within the complex there are bars, restaurants, a cinema and many many activities for kids and to make it even better its within walking distance from the City Centre, around 15 minutes.
If animals are your game Belfast Zoo is a must see, sitting in a mountain range it is unique, the only downside is that its all up hill, the panoramic views of the City underneath and across the Lough are well worth the admission price alone. There are a great selection of animals in the Zoo, from Bears to lions to penguins. I've been to Belfast Zoo four or five times and loved it every time. Your best bet is to get a bus to the zoo.
Windsor Park, home of Northern Ireland's biggest club, Linfield and the national stadium were Northern Ireland famously defeated England with Healy scoring "that" goal. If you wish to find out more about local football Glentoran, Cliftonville, Crusaders and Donegal Celtic also ply their trade in Belfast, if GAA is more your thing, Casement Park the home of Antrim GAA is also here in Belfast and finally Ulster rugby is played at Ravenhill in Belfast, they are captained by Rory Best, a star performer in Ireland's recent six nations Grand Slam.
You want to shop 'til you drop? With the famous Castlecourt right in the centre of the City hosting over 70 shops inside and also surrounded by hundreds of highstreet and local stores this is a shoppers heaven or is it...a short walk across the City will take you to Victoria Square, an amazing shopping centre stacked full of shops but it has an impressive feature that tops everything in the City Centre, "The Dome" rises high into the Belfast skyline and you can take a lift to the top and get views that astound you and if like me heights aren't your thing, you'll shoot down the steps in a jiffy! Vic Square also hosts eateries and of course a cinema.
Going out; There are many places to go out in Belfast, Renshaws, The Botanic, Milk, MClub and Lavery's to name but a few, check out local listings and websites for the latest news on were to go.
Getting Around; Belfast City is actually quite easy to walk around but outside City Hall is where all the buses sit and you will get a bus to wherever it is you need to go.
There are 100's of taxis whizzing around Belfast also, but I do recommend licensed companies instead of black cabs, much cheaper.
The Sightseeing Tour bus, with a drop on drop off service this takes you everywhere from the Murals in East and West Belfast to fantastic sights on the docks, there are various points around the City to get on this, but Jury's Inn is the usual start point.
Thats my view on Belfast as I have seen it and from what I have done, I live 40 minutes from Belfast and come every chance I can, its a wonderful City, full of culture, nice people, good banter and steeped in a great history.
Don't listen to the doubters.."ooo Belfast, no way" its not like that its a great place no sorry a wonderful place!!!
As the California advert on TV says....Come join us..You don't know what your missing!
Summary: Domnt judge this book by its cover, delve inside and love it!!!