I was lucky enough to land in Belfast at a very exciting time. The Olympic torch was about to arrive in Northern Ireland and the bustle and excitement could be felt throughout the city. In fact Belfast is one of those cities that you can’t get enough of each time you are here. Made up in a large part to the fact that the locals are so welcoming and friendly, plus as you wander you get a true sense of history that cannot all be taken in through a fleeting visit.
Why, in just the first afternoon the incredibly knowledgeable taxi tour guide Billy Scott knew exactly how to give me a great glimpse. Just scratching the surface, I discovered famous landmarks and points in past times that lead to the great minds and work that have helped shape Belfast. Milk of Magnesia, the defibrillator, air conditioning, all of which we owe to Belfast plus the great tale of Belfast’s John Dunlop, whom, wanting to prevent his son getting headaches riding his bicycle, inadvertently invented the pneumatic tyre. However, there is one huge piece of craftmanship that started here.. The Titanic
Visiting Titanic Belfast is where I first felt the scale of the history, manpower, sacrifices and sheer magnitude of the shipbuilding process. We have all seen the films and documentaries surrounding the ill fated ship, but, this place has given to grander ships, and maritime history in more ways than you can imagine. The building shown above houses a modern and greatly informative museum showing everything you need to know and see from the Titanic. Its iconic shape was built to represent the hull… standing underneath it and looking up you get some idea of size and the task of the job as the city pulled together in building the ship.
To get a hands on approach I highly recommend the 2 hour walking tour. Step into the now deserted offices of Harland and Wolff, once the worlds leading ship builder, building ships in Belfast that were the grandest of their time. The Olympic Class being the most famous. Three of which built, Titanic being the second, but only made more famous due to sinking. Offices, hallways and staircases (above pic) once visited by the noblest of the world. Below, the drawing room where ships as the Titanic began their life on paper.
Above – The pump room dedicated to clearing the water from the dry dock built for the Olympic Class.
Below – These 2 pictures do not do the scale justice. A true piece of history stands empty. The dry dock, the Titanic’s final point prior to departure.
Back in the City it was time for more exploration, So much to see, so much to learn and so much to enjoy.
The Big Fish – On the riverside, closer inspection reveals ceramic tiles depicting images and tales from Belfast’s past.
Queen’s University Belfast
Belfast has a recent past image for murals but that has given way now to fonder works of wall art. On the side of the Duke of York pub in the centre is the above (only a small section shown) depicting many of the famous characters from the city, and Northern Ireland from Alex ‘hurricane’ Higgins, George Best, Frank Carson through to Ruby Murray, a singer also now famous in rhyming slang.
Belfast City Hall proudly displaying the Olympic Rings.
Titanic memorial by the City Hall.
St George’s Market – The atmosphere here is incredible. Live music, a great happy feel together with local produce. Built in the 1890s it is a ‘must stop and wander’ place in the City.
More on the Olympics: With the help of Samsung Global Bloggers (SGBs). Using Samsung smartphone technology, they will capture the highlights of their London 2012 experience and share these moments with fans from around the world. Watch the latest judges video here to see how the finalists to take part are shaping up.
If you would like to see more of Paul Steele’s ramblings both in Britain and around the world you can follow him on Twitter @paul_steele, his Blog BaldHiker, at Huffington Post and more VisitBritain posts