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BELFAST IS NOT BERUIT COME TAKE A LOOK SEE
Belfast in General
Member Name: jingles
Belfast in General
Date: 17/08/01, updated on 17/08/01 (469 review reads)
Advantages: Beautiful and historical city
Disadvantages: Bad press can be off putting
I moved to Belfast in 1993 as a student. I was a wee country girl from outside Londonderry/Derry excited to get to the bright lights of the big city. In the 8 years (Oh my God is it really 8 years!!) l have lived in the Northern Irish capital l have never regretted the move. In fact, after graduation in 1996 l spent two months back at home – but l could not handle it and moved back to the big smoke!
So what’s so great about Belfast? Why should you visit? What’s there to do and see? Well let me give you a guided tour.
Belfast is linked to the Northern Irish cities of Londonderry and Armagh (we only have two!!) and towns such as Coleraine, Ballymena, Portadown and Enniskillen, by the two main motorways here – M1 and M2. The M1 is also the main linking motorway route between Belfast and Dublin. Traffic dependent the journey between the two cities should not take any longer than 2.5 hours. Within the North, nowhere is further that 1 to 2 hours away at the maximum.
NI Railways are not the greatest and ld be lying if l told you otherwise! It takes 2.5 hours to travel from Belfast to L’Derry (its normally 1.5 hours by road!) There are stations dotted throughout the North and they are improving travelling conditions. Trains also run regularly to Dublin.
Translink run a comprehensive bus service throughout Northern Ireland. Translink run both the road and rail services in Northern Ireland and for further details check out the web site http://www.translink.co.uk
Boats sail directly into Belfast harbour, which is quite close to the city centre. Stenaline run regular ferry services between Belfast and Stranraer, which takes around 2 –2.5 hours. They also have the super dooper HSS that cuts the travel time down to 90 minutes between the two destinations. I would recommend the HSS over the fer
ry any day!! We also have the Seacat sailing Belfast to Troon (2.5 hours), Belfast to Heysham (4 hours) and Belfast to The Isle of Mann (3.5 hours approximately). Also in Larne which is around 30 minutes distance time from Belfast P&O ferries sail to Carnryan in Scotland.
As l have previously said, Dublin is around 2.5 hours away from Belfast and carries a lot of national and international flights. In the North, Belfast International is approximately 20 minutes from Belfast City Centre and Belfast City Airport is 10 minutes. Both airports although not big, service between them all the domestic airports in the UK and many European destinations also.
WHERE TO STAY
The hotel situation in the city has greatly improved over the last few years. With the relative peace and economic boom, Belfast has really benefited from the regeneration, which is obvious throughout the city. So should you wish to stay in 5 star luxury or in a simple B&B, it’s all catered for in Belfast
5 STAR HOTELS
Hilton, Belfast – 028 90 277000
Europa, Belfast – 028 90 327000
McCausland Hotel – 028 90 220200
Oakdene Lodge – 028 90 492626
An Old Rectory – 028 90 667882
Camera Guest House – 028 90 660026
BED & BREAKFAST
All Seasons – 028 90 682814
Botanic Lodge – 028 90 327682
The George – 028 90 683212
The details l have listed are all for central locations and are only a small, small selection of what is available. For more information you should contact the BELFAST WELCOME CENTRE on 028 90 246609.
WHAT TO DO
Belfast is steeped in history and culture and really the visitor is spoilt for choice when it comes to deciding how to fill their days spent in the city. As for us natives, we don
’t know what we have right under our noses!
A wide variety of tours exist.
Belfast City Hall Tour – A large Portland stone building, dating back to the Edwardian era. Guided tours are available throughout the year.
Pub Tours – Where having a bit of craic, a bit of banter and a wee drink or two are compulsory! Features 6 bars and lasts 2 hours.
Walking Tours – there are 4 main walking tours in Belfast including
Old Belfast 1660 – 85
City Bus Tours – they offer 3 main tours around the city in either an open top or closed bus.
Black Taxi Tours – want to see Belfast as it is portrayed in the news? See the landmarks made famous by the troubles.
GRAND OPERA HOUSE
This offers various entertaining performances including for this autumn (2001) Joseph & the Technicoloured Dream Coat, Grease, Sing-A-Long Sound of Music, and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. The building has recently been renovated and is a beautiful old building to be found on Great Victoria Street.
QUEEN’S UNIVERSITY OF BELFAST
Northern Ireland’s most prestigious university (l also attend there too!), built in 1845 and took until 1849 to complete. Charles Lanyon designed it. There is a visitor’s centre on site, which provides information and memorabilia.
The gardens date back to 1827 and can be found near QUB. They house the Palm House constructed between 1839 and 1852 and also the Ulster Museum. Entrance is free to all the amenities and the gardens are perfect on a good summer’s day.
ST ANNES CATHEDRAL
To be found on Donegall Street, built between 1898 and 1904 by Thomas Drew. It homes impressive stained glass windows and has some superb artichectural features.
Parliament buildings for the devolved Northern Irish parliament (if it is not suspended that is!) Situated on an impressive hillside locus. A statute of Lord Carson stands at the bottom of a mile long driveway, welcoming in visitors and MP’s alike. The buildings are not open to the public, but its impressive grounds are.
I have only mentioned a few places of interest here, therefore l would suggest you visit the Belfast Welcome Centre to be found at 59 North Street, Belfast, or you can telephone them on 028 90 246609.
You have a wide variety of choices when it comes to pubs clubs and restaurants. I shall only suggest a few; again the tourist advice centre should be able to answer your questions.
Deans Brassiere – Howard Street – 028 90 560 000. Michelin starred chef Michael Dean is the owner and the menu is cosmopolitan. Personally, l think its fine but rather over-rated – go to Cayenne (see a previous opinion!)
Mongolian BBQ – Great Victoria Street – 028 90 246404. Create your own meal and use your imagination – pick your own meals, flavour them with a variety of herbs and spices and create a sauce – it will then be cooked for you as you watch. It’s a good fun place to have a meal – make sure you can use chopsticks! I have only been once (and was drunk by the end of the evening!) but l had a great time
Opus One – University Street – 028 90 590101. Set in the university area, this is one of my favourite restaurants ever. The menu is just that wee bit different – get your ostrich escalopes here!
So where do you go if you want a drinkie?
Crown Liquor Salon – Great Victoria Street. Owned by the National Trust. This is a Victorian public house, ornate with fine woodwork. A must for any visit
or – but do not expect to meet the locals here – its full of tourists.
The Fly – Lower Crescent. For the young and lively, this is a bar come disco, which usually has a late license at the weekends.
The Northern Whig – Bridge Street. Quite a new bar for an older more sophistic crowd. They serve excellent tapas, have a fun atmosphere and mix a mean cocktail.
Belfast is like any other modern UK city - there's the usual deluge of high street shops - M&S, BHS, Top Shop, Disney Shop, Oasis, Warehouse, Gap, Debenhams etc etc etc. Within the city centre there's Donegall Square leading to Royal Avenue - you will be kept busy here shopping to you drop!! Further on down you will find Donegall Arcade - flanked by HMV but within you will find more specialise craft shops and botiques. A bit further down the street - you will come accross Castle Court shopping centre - again a mecca for you shopaholics.
What about out of the city centre - really it is Shopping Centres - Forrestside with flag ship stores M&S, Dunnes and Sainsburys, - parking is free which is a plus. You can find it just off the Outer ring.
Conswater shopping centre is another - found in East Belfast just off Newtownards Road - again you will find Woolies, Littlewoods, Dunnes, Boots and so on. There is also a retail park beside here too. Again car parking is free and there is a McDondalds close by!
So, have l convinced you all? Shall l expect an onslaught of Dooyooers invading Belfast? I hope so – it really is worth seeing.
For further information check out:
Enjoy your stay!