Part two of my Belfast trilogy. Mainly photos, but putting them together reminded me how much I loved this city. Even though I’d never looked properly around it before, I felt it was part of me. My second city – after London, of course.
This is St George’s market. A great place – and the Belfast Bap, below, was particularly awesome. Four slices of bacon, two sausages and a runny fried egg, between some lovely soda bread. Oh wow! Didn’t eat again until the evening.
The City Hall.
The Ulster Hall – a music venue amongst other things. Led Zeppelin played “Stairway to Heaven” live here in 1972 for the first time!
The Europa Hotel – most bombed hotel in Europe. Apparently there are plaques in the hotel telling you this. Stay cool if you go there – things have moved on!
Belfast’s Albert memorial.
Guess what this is called. Yes, the Big Fish.
Footbridge over the River Langan.
There’s a lock by the footbridge. It makes the river a bit frothy on the other side.
Unite the Union got a bit carried away with socialist realism art here. The Belfast mural tradition, I guess.
The MAC arts/drama centre, in the Cathedral quarter, looking down on one of the cafe spaces. Great place.
There was a Gilbert and George exhibition on there. Strange thing to be viewing in Belfast!
A view out of our hotel window over East Belfast in the morning.
We went on an open top bus trip – real tourists. First couple of things I have better photos of later. But this is Stormont, where the Northern Ireland Assembly would be sitting, except it hasn’t done so for over a year, as a result of intractable disagreements between Sinn Fein and the DUP. Which means they get British rule instead. Tragic.
Best mural in Belfast. A celebration rather than sectarian. Georgie Best and Van Morrison, amongst others.
Another great mural – and on Newtonards Road, East Belfast too. Defiantly cool and celebratory, just ahead of the hard line stuff.
OK, here goes. A taster for the Shankill and the Falls. Newtonards Road still.
Queen’s University. A place of peace.
Can’t quite remember, but I think this is a peace monument – before we enter the heavy zones.
Before the murals, I think you need to read this piece in the Ulster Museum, on a floor exploring the “The Troubles”. The last sentence especially.
And so into the Falls Road, a Catholic/Nationalist zone.
This one I like – it must have involved all religions.
When Berlin shook off Communism, they tore down the Wall. In Belfast, when peace arrived, they kept it – apparently because the local people wanted it.
Into the Shankill Road. Protestant/Unionist.
As the Sex Pistols sang in “God Save the Queen”, We love our Queen!
This is where the Orange marches start in July. King Billy on his horse on the top. A King of England who is hardly known in England, but revered by half of the Northern Irish population.
Light relief as we got back into central Belfast. Lenin! It was a dance club, I think.
And back to the High Street. Consumerism today trumps sectarianism.
Later that day we crossed the footbridge, on the way to the Titanic Centre,
Hey, another West Five! This one a science and discovery centre.
The SS Nomadic. Started as a boat taking people from Cherbourg (France) out to big liners that couldn’t get into the port – including the ill-fated Titanic. Involved in World Wars 1 and 2. Almost scrapped. Became a trendy club venue on the Seine in Paris. Almost scrapped again. But returned to Belfast and is now something of a museum piece. But it has survived the ups and downs of decades.
The Titanic Centre. Tells the story of that ship. A really interesting museum if you ever go to Belfast. The Titantic was built and launched in Belfast. As they say here: It was fine when it left.
Architecturally, I found it fascinating.
Titanic Studios is owned by HBO and is where they film much of “Game of Thrones”. I referred to the dynamic effect of it in Part One and will revisit in Part Three.
The Harland and Wolff cranes remain iconic. They are named Samson and Goliath. This is one of them.
I mentioned the Ulster Museum earlier. It is great. The floor on the Troubles is very moving, as was a temporary exhibition by the artist Colin Davidson, called “Silent Testimony”. A series of amazing portraits of people who were affected by the Troubles, losing loved ones, or injured themselves. Sombre and very powerful. Just made you want to cry out Why?!
Note the rather odd architecture too. A neo-classical Victorian building with a bit of what looks like 60s brutalism tacked on.
10 April. It was the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday agreement. I wrote about it in Part One. Great and good here – or maybe just some university people – hanging around, I assume, for even greater and good.
So, some pretty heavy stuff in the preceding photos. But let us not forget that Belfast has some truly great pubs (and restuarants). Here are a few pubs I sampled.
White’s Tavern. I don’t think I’ve ever had a smoother pint of Guinness than I did in this place.
The Dirty Onion was rocking on Saturday night.
The Crown is a famous old pub, take over by tourists now, but still really good.
Kelly’s Cellars was a hoot! On a Monday night too.
So cheers y’all. Belfast is a wonderful place. Hurt by the past, but vibrant and a pleasure to be in right now.
White’s Tavern, second visit at lunchtime after the open top bus. Just had to sample the steak and Guinness pie!