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Sabin’s on the Sea 2023 - Day # 21 - Belfast, Ireland

by Nina Sabin - Travel Blog

The ship docked in Belfast, Ireland around 9 am. Due to the later arrival time than the previous port, passengers were eager to get off the ship. Those who did not have the ship’s excursions lined up to disembark the ship. This was the first time the process didn’t run as smoothly as the rest of the ports.

There are a few ways to travel to Belfast from the port. The ship arranged shuttles for passengers, however, the charge was $20 per person round trip. A less expensive way to get to the city was either the city bus for 2.20 pounds, about $3 per person, or a taxi ride for 15 pounds. The challenge with the city bus is it only runs every hour.

We ended up riding into town with another couple from the ship that we met while waiting in line to get off the ship. Each couple paid only 7.50 pounds.

The taxi dropped us in the center of Belfast, right by the information center.

Belfast, from Irish: Béal Feirste, meaning 'mouth of the sand-bank ford' is Northern Ireland’s capital. It emerged from decades of conflict to become one of Ireland’s most intriguing cities.

While the legacy of Belfast’s complex conflict known as The Troubles still looms, there are many other sides of this city to explore.

There are quaint streets of the Cathedral Quarter to investigate and the newly regenerated Titanic Quarter where TMS Titanic was constructed.

The West part of Belfast is where the bombings occurred due to the battle between the Catholics and Protestants.

The conflict was primarily political and nationalistic, fueled by historical events. It also involved an ethnic or sectarian dimension but despite use of the terms 'Protestant' and 'Catholic' to refer to the two sides, it was not a religious conflict.

At one of the memorials included victims who were murdered even 20 plus years later after the major conflicts.

The Peace Wall divided the Catholic Falls Road from the Protestant Shankhill Road. It was built in the 1970s as a way to keep the two communities apart. The wall continues to be a powerful symbol of sectarian violence that plagued Northern Ireland for decades.

John is a fantastic planner and tour guide. He set up another fantastic walking tour. He knows he is ready for a trip when he could run the tours.

Across the street from the Belfast Information Center is City Hall. This is the seat of government in Northern Ireland and was built in the 19th century. It was a neutral ground during the Troubles and was often used as a meeting place for peace talks. Today, you can admire the fabulous architecture, stain glass windows and go through the museum that is throughout the building.

Other highlights in Belfast are the Albert Memorial Clock, where locals stood on the top to see the Titanic sail off; the big fish statue commissioned in 2006 along the Cornish; and the historical St. Anne’s Cathedral, one of many churches you can visit in Belfast.

One of the fascinating things to see as you walk throughout West Belfast is the world famous murals that paint pictures of the historical conflicts in Belfast. Included in these murals is one of Bobby Sands, the young republican hunger striker who died in 1981.

Just across from the Bobby Sands Memorial is the Garden of Remembrance. This garden honors the victims of all sides of the Troubles.

While at the garden we saw a precious black and white cat. My day is usually not complete unless I get at least one picture of an animal.

A day in Ireland is not complete without going to a local bar and enjoying a pint. Today John had a Guinness and I had a Magners Cider.

After walking for almost six hours and seven and a half miles we were ready to head back to the ship.

On the way back we planned to take the local bus. There are two buses that travel back to the port 94 and 94b. We were able to catch the one at 3:05 pm. As I mentioned, the buses only run every hour to and from the port, so it is important to calculate the bus time.

The bus takes credit cards which is convenient. Unfortunately, they only take credit cards that have the tap feature or Apple Pay. Our credit card only had a chip and not the tapping / touch-less feature. One of the passengers from the ship was getting on the bus to go back to the port with us and offered to cover our tickets. We offered to reimburse her the $5 equivalent but she said just pay it forward. It is so wonderful to know there are kind caring people in the world.

Our next port tomorrow is Stornoway, Isle of St. Lewis, Scotland, UK. We have reserved a rental car and will be driving on the opposite side of the road. We might need a sign on the car the says, ‘watch out, foreigner driving’.

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