belfast 2019

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
the story of my trip across the water

Submitted: June 19, 2019

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Submitted: June 19, 2019

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We all new how glad I was to get out of the office on the Friday, I knew my colleagues new and my boss realized for it had been tough.

Fortunately I had made plans for the week Four nights in Belfast an unusual choice the main attraction being a chance to visit Windsor Park or as they stated clearly the National Football Stadium.

So on the Sunday morning i found myself driving up the motorway as planned for a twelve o'clock flight from Birmingham airport to Belfast George Best city airport.

I choose this as I would have visited the airport anyway and also it was nearer and easier it appeared to get to Belfast city. Bristol airport is slightly nearer but only provided the one option of destination.

Arrival was fine as was getting the bus to the terminal. Finding the check in not so but eventually i mastered the check in and took my bag. However as i had not paid for the hold which was not needed the bad could be carried on to what i discovered later was a fully booked flight.

Through security the Bain of my life i had a shampoo container which i thought i could take through security after scanning.

I was wrong it was over 100ml so i had to deposit in the bin which i hope is not wasted.

Once the other side i headed through to purchase a paper and later decided on a coffee in Wetherspooms. What a pain one person and a case which i could not leave out of sight, fortunately a free table was in sight of the ordering point so problem solved. Note to Mr Tim Martin please Wetherspoons for your many solo customers solve this problem.

I was later to learn he attended a school in Belfast where he was considered not the brightest of pupils. That probable explains his arrogant stance on Brexit. His teacher was a Mr Wetherspoon who has found fame at last.

Eventually I was to board the flight along with a full cargo and was soon up in the air initially looking down on the green Midlands fields before we were above the clouds and all i had to read was my newspaper.

As always i was fascinated looking down as the plane came into land. The emerald Island with green fields with roads i could see cars moving a golf course a scary river that once floated the unsinkable Titanic and my ears were popping in a painful way. I put my little fingers into my ears.

A bumpy landing to end what for me was a short flight and an even shorter wait to walk on Irish soil without having to face any customers or passport checks. This was George Best Belfast City airport small and with murals promoting the beauty of the country. a few recycling bins with the George Best signature but very little otherwise to emphasis the Irish legend.

 

I like it when journeys go without a hitch and so it was in finding the bus awaiting within sight of the exit and after a small payment i enjoyed the short ride to the bus station into the city i could have got off at St Georges market but not to worry. With a bit of a search passing the make a wish tree i found my way to the hotel and prepared to check in.

 

My room was not ready however i was able to leave my suitcase and went for a walk discovering the local shopping Centre a small version of Bristol Galleries with a subway to provide me with subsistence. As i left it was raining a heavy shower that kept shoppers in and the local homeless raised their umbrellas. These was to be a common theme in Belfast the homeless were every where along with seagulls and pigeons a sure sign of a prosperous city with to much food and much to waste. How do we solve the homeless problem as i saw not one big issue vendor in the city.

My room was ready and i settled in before going out for a wander to take some pictures and find the Spoons for my evening meal.

Again i come upon an issue for despite leaving a paper while going to the bar to order food upon coming back i found my table had been requisitioned by a couple who had previously been at an adjacent table.

Fortunately their was a near by table free which i acquired grabbing my food when it appeared ad only managing a miserly two cups of coffee.

Never mind i returned to my hotel room in the drizzle for a shower TV and some well deserved rest. In the morning Windsor Park was my destination.

I awoke on Monday morning to the sound of seagulls calling the faithfull to prayer.

it was my first beakfast in the IBIS a chance to sample. I found a tabe in a hide a holecwith a Japanese foursome on the next table.

the whole room was full of the Japanese party elderly with one or two single younger members.

I soon pulled as an elderly one decided to join me to be with her friends on the next table. The best looking of the party came over to chat hiwever as she was off persumable to Dublin she missed her chance.

as is my way I treated this as a three course meal endulging in a bacon sarnie.

Afree I finished I soon left first to head for the Proterstant Cathedral in the city before catching a bus for Windsor pa

 

The cathedral was nothing more than a big church and there were to be many smaller versions during my stay. However I am delighted I went to this area. A few homeless I could see in an area dominated by pictures and flowers. I waited till they moved seeking to avoid the request for spare change as I decided not to bring any to avid this situation.

?The previous day I handed out some chance in genuine sympathy after the rain passed however by now I had seen the full extent and not one big issue seller.?

behind I found the st Anne's qua?ter an area of outraged architure with a gym hotel cafe and statue of naked Anne.

I wondered among the art work on display the only visitor for it was early morning before heading off to catch my bus to Windsor park.

after purchasing a Tesco meal deal I waited the first bus did go near however the driver recomended analternative which arrived within minutes. Despite requesting a return I was given a single ticket must be the language barrier. No contactless payment either so some things still have to reach Belfast. It made grateful for stagecoach even though WiFi is switched off the stdgecoach west buses.

upon arrival I headed for the stadium took a few pictures and went for a stroll. Thestadium was in a residential area houses were not outdated semi although at the top was flats and i briefly noticed two ladies. One well last get prime stood in bra and panties and in horror I walked on.

I discovered the local train station two platforms and even smaller than can and Dursley. It stood behind the houses nearly noticeable was it possible to get direct to the stadium other than the route I found. I am still not sure.

so I wandered on looking in cafe some open other not till I came to monsoon entered for a milk shake. I also took the opportunity to read the local paper and another chapter from Pele the life story.

in between I eat a cake and enjoyed a delightful milk shake so good I could drink it twice. I made sure every drop was inhaled via my mouth and expressed my appreciation to the staff.

time for another wander as my your start time approached firstly I say eating my sandwich and fruit before for thevsrvond time I was challenged. I was early for the tour I explained come on in he said and soon the young your guide came down presented me with a few mementos before taking me on tour.

The your had no high or low lights just much of interest to me. It proves to be a chance to demonstrate my extensive knowledge from fifty plus years as a football fan. A a was discovered at the end of the tour my recentknowledge was lacking.

The first item was a trophy I guessed wrongly it was the home international trophy for which Northern Ireland were the last winners.

it was played annually between Englabd Scotland Waled and the Irish. I have seen all but the latter compete in it. 

The English stopped competing probably forfinancial reasons though for a while continuing to play the Scottish.

in our modern contested football fixture it is hard to see it being revived. A keltic verion with the republic replacing England lasted only one year.

Also in a draw to protect it was a writteminutes book of the first meeting of the Irish FA.

E proceeded on our way their was items of history and the famous moments plus a penalty shoot out area were the Lingfield trsineescwent to practise.

It was the corporate box area three names after famous players. Guestswere afforded comfortable seats and perfect views of the match in progress.

Even Colin Murray when not working could get an invite.

The pitch was modern with a slope for drainage along the side. I shall investigate at Anfield for I do not know what the drainige system is ther

 

The final areas where the media room providing a first personal photo opportunity and the dressing room where home players had their places marked.

confess though I nee the famous players of the past even Blanchflower Bingham and Gregg I now none ofbthe current squad.

?For me Pat Jennings is the greatest of them all and though I can make Whiteside ,Mcilriy and George Best I cannot make one Liverpool played who has graced the turf.

For the football purist the tour is a must do. It will never reach the popularity heights of Wembley, Barcelona or Anfield however Old Trafford can aspire to be half as good.

?i left to the blue skies and hardly a sole in sight walking the back streets to the station where for two poinds (ten pence cheaoer than the bus) i enjoyed the train ride from a station no bigger than can and Dursley to the main starion with four platforms and the adjoining bus station.

?Despite searching hard I never found SOLO restuarant my intended eatery. In the place I think it was another restuarant though it was hard to tell as no door numbers existed.

?I discovered the HMRC building with a few errant staff taking the air. When they returned to their desks I took the opportunity of a selfie.

?Frankie and Bennies was my choice a good one. Always reliable to me the solo dinner and deserving of the small add on to show my appreciation.

returned to my hotel room iit was still early evening however that did not matter to me. It was a chance for some rest a read and television.

?As I looked on Facebook that night i read something by my niece that I was latter to confirm with her but not till I got home.

Across from my room I looked at a Turkish restuarant above a local pub and decided I would eat there the following night.

Tuesday morning I awoke early and despite my best efforts I could ninot get back to sleep.

?Eventually I have in rising and following my usual routine. Coffe switch on TV shower and shave more of my facial hair. I reviewed Facebook and my emails knowing something was I up. I decided to contact my niece when I returned home.

?iI wwenwentwent down to breakfast later partly to avoid the Japanese and more because the tour did not start till ten in the morning. That was the time of the first bus which I intended to catch.

After going out for a brief stroll I returned to the breakfast room for my usual.

With a full stomach I collected my camera and money prior to heading for my ticket. I again purchased some food from a different Tescoplus some sugar free sweets for the tour. These are a God send though install enjoy to many games and fine good especially when away from home.

The tour had a genuine guide a plus point when compared to the sound track of the tours I have been on. One too is do the circuit a few times with different guides for a variety of tales.

The titanic museum was the first major stopping point though I did not intend to visit. My interest was the areas relating to the troubles and the deserted Gaol now a tourist attraction.

It was almost at the end of the circuit after visiting Stormount that I along with one couple got off ans wandered in joining a long queue. We just missed the start of one your gut with thirty minutes to wait a coffee was in order.

Our guide was a jolly chap eell rounded with the accent and quick talking. He knew his stuff as he took as round.

The tunnel that connected the court a cross thevroad to the jail still hadbthe heating system. Eventually the old court house will be a hotel despite a few false starts.

?The jail has four wing and numerous famous inhabitants. To many to make with a few suprised.

The cells were tiny and the dummy inside to emphasise the from existence. The govenors room and the most gruesome part the condemned persons cell.

The tales of execution is to gruesome to tell here but it made meetings and could visabily upset my fellow tourists.

The yard brought us sunshine and was the only exercise area although a few extra additions where also thBeneath us is hallowed turfvwere 19 if I recall correctly executed convict are buried. Their families can now reclaim the bodies for proper burial in.marked graves at their own expense.

The tour concluded where it began in the museum with its history and records of escapes. There were not many and we were to join them.

 

There were numerous happy customers me among them making their way out taking a last photo.

For me it was back to the bus and the next bus with a young last for the final part of the circuit.

 

The concluding part took me past the Bobby Sands memorial and the dividing well that separates the two communities. As one guide said the two communities goes each other like football fans. The marching season demonstrated this point for they like to match in other religion areas to objections and the matches go ahead anyway.

Thecqay the two communities spoke was slightly different and we got an explanation of how she would listen and keep stum to work out what area of the city she was in.

At the finishing point I jumped off to catch the next departing bus. To my disappointment it was the same onevasbthebfirst bus I caught so I would hear the same jokesvand takes. I took this to the Bobby Sands mutual apparently one of the most photons items in the world. I was to join the hordes as well as investigating a garden however I decided not to walk along the long walk deciding to catch the next bus.

Unfortunately the guide was the same young lady as before. Lovely as she was charming with soft accent I did not want to hear the same tales again. I had no choice showed my ticket and enjoyed till the conclusion 

Where i decided not to go out to watch the football that evening to be honest I could not be bothered  I was tired. I did visit the restuarant acrossbthebroad. It was early and I was the only customer even when I left after offer of Turkish tea which I declined their was no customers.

I enjoyed my lamb shank and sweet that followed. My only mistake was not taking my phone or book to read.

I slept well that night for tomorrow would be my last full day in the irish capital.

For my final day it was to be a walking Wednesday and after my breakfast i headed out through the city along the main road that passed the Europa hotel and Station on one side.

I headed out through the other end of the main part of the city finding my way to the Queens university. I followed a route the bus had taken only the previous days with a few diversions in a prosporous area full of young students and the occasional school pupil as i believe a school was nearby.

On my later travels i came accross many mothers with young children some of asiian and even black caribian.

The magnificant old buildings of the university stood in front of me with a monument in someones honour facing me. One thing i learnt about it was from above it was shaped like a capital E.

Next door was the Botanic gardens headed by a Kelvin statue and to its side a weird creation which to this day i have no idea what it represented.

Their was a selection of pictures and paintings reflecting the art project on show. I began to wander further through the gardens down and around the grass the gardener the flowers and ornaments to the concervatory. It was closed but soon opend however the attractions inside were not for me as i wandered further leaving and return to explore and take photos.

I was intrigued by a guardsans hut created from disused electrical appliance to emphasise a point. Later in the grounds a similar idea created of plastic bottles to encourage the recycling of these commodities.

A bowling fround and nearby school before i wandered in and through the rose garden with its array of colours and titles including the one to avoid "marry me".

It was fasicinating and a pleasure one i am glad i enjoyed as i passed to a cafe taking a peak and deciding it was not for me. I deserted the park for a while walkng up to the graveyard deserted and guarded by gates with two small dwellings eiter side.

Their was a variety of choices of coffee shops which one i thought and declined each till i returned to a corner where i saw "Maggie May" a chain and this was to be my choice.

The vegan strawberry milkshake was the attraction a wise choice equaly as delightful as my revious one and went down slowly while reading another chapter of Pele life story. I was unnoticed among the almost full house as i paid my cash and did not waste a drop of my drink.

I say wase for i know some people have thrown milkshakes over politicians  I for one do not approve nor the idea of battery acid what a waste!?

Having enjoyed and the rain still holding off, it would only be a light drizzle anyway i returned through the park and followed my map and my sense of direction to the city. I was heading for city hall however i could not miss the photo pportunity out side the "George Best" hotel. Ready Septemner 2018 the sign said i looked at the date June 2019 it read so like George it must be in the pub late!

My Plan was unfolding to visit the city hall then on to Cosmo for food, I eat breakfast early and my plan was to arrive for one which i did. This meant i had two hours to enjoy ehile paying the cheap rate but first city hall.

I used it partly to shelter from the rain which finally arrived in short burst. The titanic memorial and other statues where photoed though. I oted the names of those lost on the titanic April 15th 1912. Remember the date but not the year for in 1989 anoth equally devasting disaster occurred at Hillsborough Sheffield.

Inside i wandered round investingating rooms and taking pictures a selfie the model titani and a chess set all relevant to me.

The sports room including an irish chess legend who briefly in his hey ay led the hen recognised world chess champion. I had heard of neither and in among George Best and other legends it did not go unnoticed no Mary Peters.

I wonder why.

So on to the Victoria square complex where i climbed to the fourth floor and through its open glas platform could see all fur corners of the city under the caeful eye of a security guard. I guess jumpers were the main concrn not a single inquisitive stranger like me.

In Cosmo a table was found and a refill Pesi glass brought however i first went for my starters and then for seconds choicing items i had not chosen first time or those i particularly enjoyed. I carefully avoided the hot and spicy asian items though and washed down with my one and only glass of pepsi.

Sweet was different icecream and cake two helpings and i am sure it was not asian however wherever it came from i enjoyed and happily paid the cashier before disappearing through the city shops and back rather tired to my hotel.

I did not eat again till breakfast the next morning the last breakfast in Belfast and i did not get to try the Ulster fry.

 

Last day

For my last day i went for a stroll both before and after breakfast taking side streets and walking to previousely not visited roads. they were not exciting the busy motorway below and a side road that led to nowhere but some historical wall murials.

Breakfast was at a high table a couple joined and sat opposite an elderley gentleman to my right who stuck up a conversation with an lady of vintage with an interesting occupation. My last breakfast was as varied and delightful as any before in any hotel and will be the same wherever i go. The latest Japenese part were in Town suprising as it was the latest i had gone down for breakfast.

I returned to my room went for a final strol returned collected all my belongs which i had stored in the previous hours and for one of only two times used the lift as i was carrying luggage. My step count for the C4CS walking challenge was good for these four days and i hoped we as a team would go on to be winners. Time will tell and a breakfast should be the team reward.

I stayed on after checking out to read and have one last look at the internet befor walking away to the bus station. I had one last place to visit a pub with old fashioned snugs directly accross the road from the Bus and train station. I tried a Latte in one of the snugs with a selfie of course and after finishing thanked the staff and headed for the bus.

I had put the exact fare to one side for it was cash only on this bus which i boarded  along with about six others. A variety of origins an indian girl who would have taken my fancy i am sure. I later saw her in the airport waiting to meet some one. I was grateful to her as she pointed out and collected my hat for me. A disaster avoided.

Once in departures after surving security i enjoyed an Irish stew while watching the world go by. I headed elsewhere to sit and an occurance that may be one for the future happend a fire alarm went off "wait while it is investigated" was repeated over and over till after what seemed an eternity it changed.

Fire alarm over incident investigated no danger or something similar.

I had a last cake and coffee before finally and tenminutes late boarding the plane past the "George Best" recycle bins and advertising the irish delights. Would Bestie recycle i doubt it!

The short flight home was followed  by the longer drive and at last i was home and on to my computer. I picked up my mail before contacting one of my niece she confirmed what i later discovered happend on Tuesdat June 11th my mother had died. Neither of m y brothers talk to me and even a request for funeral information to the the funeral directors received no response.

Why a family funeral director would do this well anyone can be bought  suppose.

 


© Copyright 2020 Mark Quay. All rights reserved.

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