Belfast

We went to Belfast for a few days: I’d been before, on business, but didn’t have chance to see the place properly.

It’s a great city: good for food, plenty to do, and friendly people. Now that The Troubles are gone, it’s a thriving tourist location: The Falls and the Shankill Rd are now tourist attractions, even if the gates still close at night, and the 25ft-high Peace Lines that in some cases are at the border of adjacent gardens still provide a visual reminder (and quite a visual shock seeing them for the first time) of what has passed.

A local we were chatting to (Protestant/loyalist, technically) said he’d still feel nervous in The Falls, but they, to me, felt safe, and just like a working-class area here on the mainland. There are reminders of past times: still the odd armoured Land Rover, and a few marches, but the city really is safe for tourists: allegedly so much so that it’s rated second (behind Tokyo), if the bus tour guide was to be believed.

Belfast has had a lot of investment, even since 2007 when I was last there: there’s new hotels, lots of bars, and the city is really embracing the legacy of Harland & Wolff’s most famous creation. Despite some places claiming that between WW2 and the troubles a lot of architecture was destroyed, there’s some fine Victorian buildings too.

My one complaint? Real ale is in short supply. Great pubs, but often limited beer.

Pictures in the Gallery.

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