This time, I spotted the sign! (Though now with Brexit, there’s the question about whether a soft border between Ireland and Northern Ireland will continue…)
Pulled up to the bus center, near the Europa Hotel - recognized as the most bombed hotel in Europe (36x), thankfully safe now - and caught a quick taxi ride to our flat near St. Anne’s Cathedral.
Lunch at a bistro in the quiet square here, but still always someone walking through on their way to the gym, or to grab a coffee, or to a meeting. In the most non-judging manner, I notice the smart tan loafers on smartly-dressed guys and bold outfits on young women - casual, but thoughtfully pieced together. From lunch and a walk about the city center and Cathedral Quarter, I note that it feels much livelier and vibrant than the Belfast I saw just a year ago (again… Sunday, in the rain… didn’t have the same feel as today).
The murals through this part of the city are far more colorful and plentiful than the political ones we’ll see Wednesday on our taxi tour of the Troubles.
In our walking, we discuss how Belfast feels more walkable and manageable than Dublin - pubs and shopping that aren’t anywhere nears as crowded or touristy as Temple Bar or Grafton Street in Dublin. Nothing against Dublin at all… if you have the chance to visit, GO! And be a tourist through and through! But also, consider the benefits of a stop into Belfast too (and, just saying, Belfast is also easier on the wallet).
Cranes and construction signal continued growth here. But values still drive industry - most shops close by 6 in the city center and sundays are quiet. ( Maybe there’s other reason ? Yet another question to get answered). The plentiful pubs around the Cathedral Quarter stay open late though, so when you pop out at 10...or 11pm, the sky is surprisingly bright. We had dinner at The Cloth Ear and a Guinness, then liquid dessert at The Harp Bar. My notebook is as constant of a companion as my Mom, with opportunities to talk and write through what we’re seeing and experiencing!
Tomorrow, Black Taxi tour and Titanic Belfast!
In just day one, I’m feeling so grateful to be back here, gaining this perspective of Belfast.
Written in The Cloth Ear Public House & Harp Bar | Cathedral Quarter