We all know that positivity is one of my strengths, so I don’t mean for this post to be a ‘dig’ at Belfast. However (I know that’s just a fancy ‘but’), everybody has a least favorite place, food, song, etc. When I line up all of the trips I’ve made since moving to Switzerland, I would list Belfast and Sao Paulo as my least favorite cities. And within Europe, that means Belfast is bringing up the rear.
In the 24 hours we were in Belfast, a few things happened that gave reason for this opinion:
- We drove into the rental car return to return our vehicle only to find out that Avis isn’t located in the complex with all of the other rental car companies. AND you are barricaded into the parking lot before this is evident. AND the other rental car companies won’t give you the code. Instead, they make you go into the airport to get it from security. AND Avis closes at noon on Saturdays…something that will be added to the list of things I don’t understand.
- The Troubles. For those of you who are older than me (and for those who are my age, but were paying attention to world events during your childhood), you know what I’m talking about. I, however, did not know about The Troubles. Nor was I prepared for the 90 minute Black Cab tour we took that told us about them. It was definitely a good history lesson, but it was a no-silver-lining, no-happy-ending kind of tour, which was really disheartening.
- When it was time to leave, our taxi driver got lost taking us to the airport. He said he’d never been there before. I really hope it was his first day on the job. Otherwise, I don’t know what he’s been doing.
Before I totally bum you out, I should tell you that we did two things that I really enjoyed:
- Eating lunch at the Crown Liquor Saloon.
- Visiting the Titanic Experience.
The Crown Liquor Saloon was built in 1826, but in 1885, the owner recruited church craftsmen to work on his saloon. This is why it is so ornate! Many of the booths on the ground floor fully close to keep conversations private.
Did you know that the Titanic was built in Belfast?! Prior to researching this trip, I didn’t know that. While the Titanic has a tragic end, they built an enormous Titanic Experience to give a picture of life at the time that Titanic was built, what went into the design, construction, etc., a glimpse into the lavishness of its interior, and details about the sinking and the initial mission that found the Titanic underwater many decades later. It was fascinating, but also a bit depressing given the tragic ending.
When I signed up for a Black Cab tour, I thought we were going to get a bit of an ancient history lesson. I had no idea that we would basically be talking about current events. This was a terribly depressing tour, even though our guide knew a lot about the situation – past and present. I think we were both a little bit shell-shocked at the end…particularly me, since I didn’t even know about The Troubles. I was most startled that the wall is still standing and that all but one of the gates are locked nightly.
Thankfully, Belfast didn’t completely sour my opinion of Ireland / Northern Irleand, but sadly, it doesn’t get my seal of approval or my recommendation to visit (unless it’s to visit the Antrim Coast, then I fully support the decision). I guess the saying, “you can’t win ’em all” is relevant here. After all, someone always has to be the least favorite.