Our first day in Belfast was so jam packed with cool stuff, we weren’t sure anything else could compare. But, as we were surprised to find out, Belfast has many neat things to offer visitors, and we ended up not having nearly enough time to truly enjoy everything.
The Belfast City Hall Museum
This museum has everything you would ever want to know about Belfast. It’s probably a better place to start your visit (as opposed to the Titanic Museum), but we enjoyed it all the same. Also worth noting was the memorial to the Titanic sinking just outfront with all the names of those lost at sea. The Titanic museum of course told us how many people had died, but seeing the names written like this really brought the tragedy to life.
The Ulster Museum
The City Hall Museum had information on Belfast, this museum had information on Ulster, AKA Northern Ireland as well as a floor devoted to art and special exhibits.
Now we REALLY lucked out here with two temporary exhibits that just happened to be on display.
Exhibit 1: Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing.
The Royal Collection in the UK boasts one of the largest collections of da Vinci drawings in the world. But these drawings are almost never on display so as to keep them safe. But, for one month only, these drawings were taken out and put on display all across the UK to mark the 500 year anniversary of da Vinci’s death. The Ulster museum had two of his most famous drawings, Arm and Shoulder, and The Skull Sectioned. These were drawn in 1515 and 1489, respectively.
Exhibit 2: The Game of Thrones tapestry.
So, there is a very famous thing called “The Bayeux Tapestry”. This is a 230 foot long tapestry made in the 1070s detailing every stage of the Norman conquest of the British Isles. It’s currently in Bayeux, Normandy and is one of the more fascinating historical “documents” on the planet.
So, partly to pay homage to that, and to show off traditional Irish linen weaving and tapestry making skills, the Irish Tourism board commissioned a similar tapestry to detail the events on Game of Thrones. This tapestry is currently 217 feet long, but when the series is finished it should be about 253 feet long. It was made entirely by hand in the same style as the Bayeux tapestry, and is simply jaw dropping even to those who don’t care about the show.
We knew this tapestry was there, but we were not expecting what we saw. I was personally expecting a few largish embroidered tapestries with some of the house crests on them or something, but no.
Just like with the props exhibition it was fascinating to be in a room full of people, speaking countless languages, everyone trying to figure out which scene they were looking at.
We ended our last night in Belfast with a desire to go to a pub. But we were afraid to give a pub a try because…how do pubs work?
Eventually we found a nice semi-quiet pub and managed to get a couple of seats. We enjoyed two pints each at the “capital city price” of 5 pounds a piece. It was a bit of a rip off, but it had been a nice time so we weren’t worried.
Pubs in Ireland/Northern Ireland don’t typically offer food, just drinks. So we left our cozy pub and went on a hunt for traditional Irish drunk food, fish and chips and something called a pastie (not to be confused with a pasty). The pastie was a patty made from pork, potato, spices, and who knows what else that had been breaded and deep fried. This delicious affront to humanity was served on a bed of french fries, more than a person should probably eat in a day. 10/10, would pastie again.
Final Day in Belfast.
The last thing we really wanted to see in Belfast was a peace wall. The peace walls were built between catholic and protestant communities to keep them from killing each other. All of the access points between the communities are locked down at night, and the walls are a whopping 25 feet high to prevent people from throwing things at the houses on the other side. However, the walls are home to some really impressive, though usually political, graffiti. It was neat to walk around and see the walls and the graffiti, but strange to think about WHY the walls exist.
After seeing these, we looped back into town to catch a train to our next destination.