May 14: Belfast
I decided to take it easy today. Mom stayed on the ship, while I took the free tourist shuttle to the city centre and took a tour around the city. Our first stop was the “Titanic Zone” which includes a museum, and several other attractions. The museum is a beautiful building. At each corner is a section that looks like the prow of the ship and is the same size as the Titanic. There is also an area the shows one of the places where the Titanic was in dry dock. Close to the museum is the Titanic Film Studio. This is where they film Game of Thrones.
The building for the Parliament of Northern Ireland is quite impressive and is surrounded by massive gardens. The roads leading to the building are lined with decorative lanterns that have a gold moose on them to commemorate that these were a gift from Canada.
We also drove through the areas that were the heart of the “Troubles”. The guide pointed out the gates that would be closed at night to separate the areas, as well as the massive barriers – now called “peace walls” that were erected to deflect various types of explosives. We drove past the murals, starting with the ones in the Shankill area (Protestant) and finishing in the Falls Road area (Catholic) with the mural to Bobby Sands. For whatever reason, this are still feels like there is a very uneasy truce and that it would not take much for this to get out of hand very quickly. Or maybe it is just some of the things I remember from talking to people who lived in these neighborhoods during the height of the Troubles. I would not want to walk alone.
I spent the rest of my time in Belfast walking around the pedestrian area in the city center and at the Belfast City Hall. This is also quite an impressive building.
Linen is still an important export of Belfast – and I picked up a couple of pieces that I thought were nice.
Eventually, I made my way back to the ship for some lunch and a massage. Tough day, indeed!
Finally found my mom and shared some of my thoughts of Belfast with her. Then, we headed to dinner. Tonight’s dinner: Crab cake appetizer, spicy corn chowder soup, sirloin steak with onion strings and a warm chocolate brownie with vanilla ice cream and hot fudge sauce. (I was told I could not lick the bowl – some people just take away all your fun!) Again, we had some lovely dinner guests – including another librarian!
After dinner (which seems to take a really long time), I wandered a bit looking for a bar that had something going on – again – and gave up the fight. I seem to be just not “in sync” with how this ship works. I guess I miss my Celebrity martini bar and Latin music!