Sunday, February 9, 2014

A Weekend in Belfast: Titantic Trail, Taxi Rides, and Tasty Food

After doing a quick day trip to Belfast last weekend, me and my friends decided to go back for a weekend to explore the rest of the city. The weekend consisted of a lot of firsts: going on a weekend trip in Northern Ireland, using the Northern Ireland train system, using maps to navigate the city, going to a Scottish ballet, and staying in a hostel.

Our trip first began with finding our hostel. There were tour guides lined up all on the streets of Belfast willing to help us out. Most of the tour guides we came across warned us that our hostel was the worst in Belfast, which wasn't the most reassuring thing, but we all were hoping that it wasn't as bad as they described it. When we arrived there, we realized that the tour guides were being a "wee" bit dramatic about the conditions of the hostel. It was pretty good for a place we only paid 8 pounds per night.

We ended up adventuring around some of the hot spots of Belfast. The most exciting part about the trip was seeing the Titantic trail. I'm not the world's biggest Titantic fan, but I am a sucker for any kind of scenery! It wasn't the sunniest day outside (not like there's ever a really sunny day in Ireland), but it was awesome walking along the trail and seeing where the Titanic was built.

Along with learning about the Titantic, we also went on a black taxi tour and learned about how the city is divided between Catholic and Protestant. As we were on the tour, I learned more about why religion has been an issue and why it still is an issue today. Going on the tour opened my eyes to a different and interesting side of Belfast that I wasn't intending to see, so I'm glad I got to learn more about it from our unbiased and wonderful taxi driver, Paddy!

chilling in the taxi

group of us in front of the peace wall

signing the peace wall (fun fact: Bill Clinton, Rhianna, and Justin Bieber have signed this same wall, too!)

in front of the one of the many political murals we saw

The Titanic trail and black taxi tour were two of the most recommended activities to do in Belfast, so after doing that, it only made sense to go check out the most recommended restaurants around the area. The one restaurant we heard the most about was Cosmo, a buffet styled restaurant in the Great Victoria Square Mall. I'm pretty sure that we were pegged as the group of Americans because we all stuffed our faces and we each went up four different times for more. We also made our way back to St. George's Market, which reminds me of the Farmer's Market in Burlington. There's a ton of different vendors selling food, jewelry, artwork, and crafts. 

one of the many plates of food I consumed at Cosmo

There's a lot of freedom to traveling and going to Belfast made me even more excited about my other weekend trips I have planned.  In two weeks from now, I'll be visiting Copenhagen, Denmark with Alex and Merrill! It's going to be so great seeing them and meeting up with our other SMC friends who are studying abroad in Copenhagen now. Along with the Copenhagen trip, Alex and I have already made plans to go to Paris, Milan, Madrid, London, and Amsterdam. During my April break, my parents and my brother are visiting and it looks like right now we'll be exploring France, Scotland, and Ireland together. While I haven't found myself feeling too homesick yet, I'm still looking forward to having them here and traveling around with them.

I've only been in Northern Ireland for three weeks and I already don't want to leave. I'm ready to explore everything I can before I go back home in May!

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