Thursday, October 2, 2014

#TBT: Belfast, Northern Ireland

Welcome to my very first Throwback Thursday! My goal is to share some stories of my past travels and some pictures with you all. So, for my very first #TBT, I’d like to shine the spotlight on Belfast, Northern Ireland.

I went to Belfast in 2012. The Titanic museum had just opened a few months earlier and my sole purpose in making the journey from the Republic (where my school program was based) was to visit the museum. I never expected to fall in love with the city.

First off, we (my friends and I) stayed at the Park Inn by Radisson on Clarence Street, and it was amazing! I would definitely recommend staying there if you go. I split the price of a room with my two friends so it was relatively inexpensive between the three of us. The best part of the hotel stay was the complimentary breakfast we received (see picture below). I've never felt more like royalty in my life!

Breakfast courtesy of the Park Inn

Our first morning in Belfast, we set off for the Titanic Museum in the Titanic Quarter of Belfast. I've been a Titanic buff for years and I've visited the Titanic Museum in Branson, Missouri as well.

The museum itself seemed to rise from the very ground itself, resembling the hull of the ship it honors. It’s an awe inspiring place, with the Harland & Wolff shipyard looming in the distance. For me, being such a fan of the ship and its history, standing in the very place where the ship was born and built, was such an amazing experience.

Looking up at the museum

Inside, the museum is just as spectacular. Filled with artifacts, replicas and interactive displays, the visitor is treated to an in-depth history of not only the ship itself, but the very people that built her. The visitor is put in the shoes of the workers and builders through a short dark ride, where the rider is given a ride through the very bowels of the ship-in-progress. The visitor is given a greater appreciation for those who, at times, risked their lives to build the historic ship.
One of the displays inside the museum

Later that day we rented a cab for the day and were driven up to Giant’s Causeway—that story I think I’ll save for another #TBT. For right now I’ll just say that if you have the opportunity to visit Giant’s Causeway, please do it, you won’t regret it!

On our ride back from Giant’s Causeway, our cabbie (who was just about the nicest person on earth) took us on a tour of both the Catholic and Protestant sides of the city and gave us a mini-history lesson on “The Troubles.” We were able to see the various murals across the city dedicated to those victims who did not survive “The Troubles.”

To me, Belfast was a beautiful and peaceful city; knowing that this city was a virtual war-zone only twenty years before made me appreciate the city even more. More than giving me appreciation, the city gave me hope. Hope that no matter what a city (or a person) goes through, no matter how much pain one goes through, there is still a chance that something beautiful can come through. I think a visit to the city can give hope to us all.

While walking through the city, I happened upon a saying painted on the top floors of a building. It read: A nation that Keeps one eye on the past is wise. A nation that keeps two eyes on the past is blind.

That saying is true, Belfast can never escape its past, but one visit to this beautiful place will convince you that the city is not dwelling on its past. And that is what I fell in love with, the hope and the promise.

Standing in the courtyard of Belfast’s City Hall listening to the children playing, feeling the sunshine on my face, I was filled with the same hope. Belfast isn't broken, it’s merely just beginning. 

Belfast City Hall

Thanks for reading!!! Cheers!

Up Next: #TBT : Destination TBA!

ETA: Thursday!

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