Thursday, July 23, 2015

Belfast, The Big Fish and Burgers

After finally leaving the airport, we made it to Belfast. Getting the hang of driving on the left side of the road from Belfast International to Belfast city centre, we were guided to Victoria Square Shopping Centre where we managed to enter the parking garage and find a spot without killing the car or ourselves.  Entering the mall from the lift we headed up to the viewing platform that was a draw to the shopping centre. The viewing platform is free and gives you a good look over the capital of Northern Ireland. 

Sadly the sun was nowhere in sight as we gazed over the overcast city. Leaving the shopping centre on foot, we headed on our own little walking tour. We only had a few hours to spend in Belfast but I hope one day to return to better see the city and get to know its history.

We walked from the shopping centre over to St. George's Market which was going to be our first stop but after a little confusion we saw parking and knew what Victoria Square was so jumped into their parking garage. Luckily the walk is not too long and we were doing our walking tour in a bit of a mixed order now. Arriving, we looked around the colourful market that is only open on the weekends. A bit overwhelmed now that we had actually made it out of the airport and into Belfast. 

Settling on the idea of food since despite arriving early into Belfast, our struggle with the car at the airport put us behind schedule and we opted to eat a quick lunch in the market. We all decided on Sizzle & Roll though there were plenty of options to choose from and I could have easily gone with a lot of them. I chose the Belfast Burger which was a steak burger with soda bread topped with black pudding, egg, bacon and fried onions. It was a delicious combo. I am a fan of black pudding but my sister was not willing to try it. After finishing our food, we had a quick wander through the rest of the market where I picked up some treats to snack on later on.

Leaving the market, we walked over to City Hall and had a look at the exterior. After a quick look around, we headed North to see the Big Fish. Walking through some of Belfast's shopping streets we came across some colourful grafitti as well as some of the Belfast murals. I would have loved to be able to see more of the murals and know there is a tour company in Belfast that specialises in showing off the murals but as we were on a tight time frame we did not have time to do it.

The next stop on our walking tour was St. Anne's Cathedral which is also known as Belfast Cathedral. It was completed in 1904 making it over a 100 years old. A curious thing that you cannot really see from the two photos below is that there is a 40 metre stainless steel spire installed on top of the cathedral called the Spire of Hope. We entered the cathedral and had a look around before heading off to find the Big Fish.

The Spire of Hope was a curious sight to see as was the strange sculptures standing on chairs that we came across as we walked. The spire making a small photobomb on the edge of the photo.

We also came across this delightful pink and yellow....thing that was certain to haunt my dreams for the rest of my life. Not scary, no. Not one bit...

Finally! Our last stop in Belfast. The Big Fish. The sculpture which is covered in printed ceramic mosaic tiles of text and images of the history of Belfast. Looking back I wish I had spent a bit more time admiring the tiles. It was a very quick stop before we headed back to Victoria Square to collect the car.

All in all our quick whirlwind couple of hours in Belfast were great. I would have loved to have stayed longer in the city and hope I get a chance to return to the city soon. If I could go back I think I would have tried to drive to St. Anne's and then to Big Fish versus walking as I know that ate up a bit of time that we would have had if we hadn't been delayed getting out of the airport. All in all no regrets. It was a fantastic first stop on our trip around Northern Ireland and Ireland.

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