Thursday, 18 September 2014
18.09.2014 - 18.09.2014
Another of those grey misty days we come to expect. Thankfully there was no rain and we had a booked Shore Excursion anyway. We assembled for our 08:30 tour and departed pretty much on schedule. Our guide Mary and driver Dave made a pretty good team. The tour consisted primarily of a 'drive' abound various neighbourhoods of the city. We drove past and occasionally stopped at a number of significant landmarks.
I was rather surprised to see the many murals still protesting the 'troubles' and while it looked quite peaceful now there were areas where feelings still run high demonstrated by lots of provocative murals. Quite a number dealing with conflicts far from Northern Ireland.
The city's connection to the ill fated RMS Titanic is commemorated in many ways and with impressive monuments and museums. As Mary explained there was justified pride in the creation of the ship, it was in perfect working order when she sailed out. Many words have been written about all the factors which contributed to the demise of that ship and the many people who went down with her.
We drove around the impressive city hall and the magnificent buildings that are the remnants of a time when Ireland and Belfast in particular dominated the world's linen trade. There was a visit to the impressive Queen's University of Belfast, home to an estimated student body of 25,000. A short stop also at Stormont, the home of Northern Ireland's Legislative Assembly. An impressive structure set on a hill with panoramic vistas over the city.
Our final stop was the beautiful Belfast Castle. This beautiful castle and the surrounding grounds were gifted to the 'People of Belfast' by the Earl of Shaftesbury in 1934. The 'castle' is now run as a conference centre or wedding reception venue. There is also limited accommodation qualifying it as a hotel. The immaculately maintained gardens were still colourful despite the flowers being well past their prime.
With some deft manoeuvring and skillful selection of traffic lanes Dave delivered us back to the ship without incident and within 5 minutes of our 12:30 scheduled time. I'm not sure that this tour is well designed, it attempts to cover many sites but due to the nature of the traffic and limited parking options many 'attractions' didn't receive their deserved attention. In future I'm inclined to look for tours with a more focused itinerary.
Dinner tonight was over within record time and we were on the open deck to see the ship leave the port. There's an amazing range of infrastructure from cranes and dry-docks to container cranes and ferry loading piers. Sadly much of it appears to have been idle for some time.
Back in the cabin we decided to watch a movie. After a few false starts we settled on "Chef", not a bad way to spend about two hours.
Cobh the Port for Cork, Ireland tomorrow with Waterford Crystal in Jenny's sights.
There's an image of The Belfast Castle at http://365project.org/tonydebont/365/2014-09-18
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony