Ireland: Belfast

Wednesday, Nov 27, 2002

We set out from Portrush in the early morning, enjoying the Antrim countryside on our way to Belfast. It was hard to remember we were in Ireland; we were familiar with the road signs since we had been to England the year before (in the summer of 2001, see the Transfiguration Tour part for more) and they kept confusing us as to where we were, not to mention the people’s accent is a bit different in the north: a mixture of Irish and British that tells you you’re not quite in either place.

We made it into Belfast by mid-morning, and after about an hour in the car trying to navigate the many one-way roads of central Belfast, we managed to find a place with a vacant room, the Camera House, a converted Victorian townhouse with tons of charm and a great location, just south of the city and steps away from Queen’s University and the Ulster Museum. In fact, after settling in, that’s exactly where we decided to go.

Because of the heavy rain we stayed all afternoon inside the Ulster Museum. While our books rate the museum as an okay site, we decided to do the most of our situation, and fortune smiled on us: the museum was hosting a special exhibition of ten drawings by Leonardo DaVinci, part of the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations. Free entry, almost empty museum and 10 DaVinci drawings all for our tireless perusal turned the afternoon into an incredible time. To this add the exhibition on the treasures recovered from the Girona, a Spanish Armada ship that shipwrecked off the Antrim Coast in 1588, and we were two very happy travelers.

Later that night we went to town, to try to at least see something of the city. We went to the Crown Liquor Saloon, an Victorian bar with great atmosphere (though with one rude bartender) and these little booths–snugs, as they are called–where in Victorian times women could drink in peace and unafraid of being seen in a place such as this. We took a snug, ordered some pints, and just sat there, enjoying a (relatively) quiet drink while reflecting on our up-to-now wonderful honeymoon in magical Ireland. Afterwards we walked the streets, passing by the City Hall and going into the pedestrian shopping zone in search of Kellys Cellar, a 300-year old pub featuring live music, but it was already closed.

We headed back to our room, and decided to simply stay in that night: after all, this was our honeymoon…

NOTE: The weather in Belfast was horrible; the strong rain hardly let down at all, which explains why there are no pictures of Belfast here: we actually took none. Even later at night, when we went out on the town, we forgot the camera at the room. We owe Belfast an apology, and promise when we go back we’ll take enough pictures to make it up to the city.