Blog Archives

In & Around Belfast City, Northern Ireland

When I think of my two visits to Belfast I often re-call and probably sang more than I should have the lyrics of Black Velvet Band:

City Center, Belfast

Her eyes they shone like the diamonds You’d think she was queen of the land
And her hair hung over her shoulder
Tied up with a black velvet band.
In a neat little town they call Belfast
Apprenticed to trade I was bound
And many an hour’s sweet happiness
I spent in that neat little town.
Till bad misfortune came o’er me
That caused me to stray from the land
Far away from my friends and relations
To follow the black velvet band.

Opera House

 We arrived in Belfast late Thursday night, checked-in and found a grand pub to get some really good grub. They even had a fire lit and a Celtic musician playing some tunes for the patrons. We had a couple of beers at the pub before calling it a night.

Belfast Christmas Market at City Center

An early morning led us to the City Center, where we decided we would do some shopping.

The City Center boasts excellent shopping. I remember in December 2007, touring the booths at the Christmas market. In 2010, during mid-November they were just getting set-up outside of the City Hall Building. I managed to purchase a jacket and lots of clothing, as well as a couple of sweaters for my sister as a Christmas present.

The Crown Bar

 
Belfast is the largest city in Northern Ireland and the second largest city of the island of Ireland. It has significant infrastructure and an inviting waterfront. We enjoyed a healthy lunch before taking a ride in the Hyundai Getz to the North to see the Giant’s Causeway.
 
We had a tight schedule as we had to arrive in Dublin later Friday night as we were meeting our final friend joining us for the vacation.
 
I enjoy the countryside of Ireland immensely. It reminds me of the beautiful scenery that is comparable in rural Newfoundland. However, there
are some vast differences as well, including the unique trees at roadside.

Trees at roadside to Giant's Causeway

 
Combining urban and rural regions while on vacation can really create a unique travel experience.
 
Live Rural NL 0
Christopher Mitchelmore
 
 
 

Irish Road Trip….with Great Friends!

The Irish Coast

 Thursday morning started with our newest member of the team, Tobias, who I also met while studying at the University of Economics, Prague, Czech Republic. We headed North to see the craggy coastline, metholithic cemetery and enter Northern Ireland to visit the Giant’s Causeway.
 

Banana's Make a Useful Stand for "Gertrude Prudence Spencer" GPS

It is a good thing we had the expertise of the German Engineer, as he is very solutions oriented.  I forgot to bring my stand for Gertrude Prudence Spencer (GPS) and concluded the peel of the banana would be a good surface to hold it in place. Notice I am driving the car on the left, while sitting on the right side of the car. One must really adapt, as driving this way is so different from in rural Newfoundland & Labrador.
 
We stopped for a traditional Irish breakfast at a little restaurant. I believe, I was the only person that like the blood pudding. The guys had a big breakie and my mom had the mini-breakie.
 

The Coast

 
The coastline and water reminded me of being in rural Newfoundland & Labrador. However, in mid-November the grass would not be as green and there are far less farms and significantly less sheep. There is an opportunity for this type of business activity, as we have similar climates.
 

Sheep along the coast

 As you can see from the image to the left, some of the sheep are quite fearless, as they veer just to the edge of the landscape.  The sheep were fearful of my presence and move further away. I was fortunate to also get some images of a rainbow that was off in the horizon.

 
 

A Rainbow

Unfortunately for us, the metholithic cemetery was closed and we did not feel comfortable trespassing through the gates. The landscape though presented a few of ancient lands. We decided not to visit the Giant’s Causeway as nightfall was catching us, so I decided to drive directly to Belfast City.
 
Live Rural NL 0
Christopher Mitchelmore
 
 

Experiencing the Newfoundland – Ireland Connection

I visited Ireland in 2007. We celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin with local Irish men. This happened because the week before Jen and I were in Stockholm, Sweden and starting talking to them in the street. I am glad she did, because we had a truly authentic Irish Paddy’s Day experience with the kitchen party at an Irish residence, to whirly burgers and more. Thank you James, Elmo and others. Jen & I will never forget the times at McGowens.

We returned again in April, after missing our cheap flights with both of us over sleeping; as we all celebrated the end of the semester the night before. This resulted in us taking multiple trains, underground, bus, ferry, shuttle and tram. We travelled from England to Wales to Ireland to dock in Dublin, Ireland 12 hours later than expected, but we made it. My final visit to the island was in December 2007 when I flew to Edinburgh alone prior to Christmas. There I met the Dodgemeister and a Swedish Princess. After a couple of days I took the train to Glasgow and the ferry to Belfast, Northern Ireland. On the ferry, I watched Meet the Robinson’s, one of Pixar’s excellent movies. It is right up there with Despicable Me. After arriving in Belfast, I was able to experience the Christmas Markets around city hall and enjoy many hours of excellent shopping.

As you can see, my previous trips to Ireland and Northern Ireland resulted in multiple forms of transit. Never though, did I ever rent a car and attempt to drive on the left hand side of the road, until November 2010.

Hyundai Getz

My mother must have been very trusting or scared for her life constantly. After we landed at the Cork airport, I picked up my rental car from the Budget Kiosk desk. After getting in and driving one car it had an incredible beeping noise that would not go away. I check all doors, windows, handbreak, but nothing seemed to stop it. So back to the Kiosk and they exchanged my Nissan for a little Hyundai Getz.

Side View of the Hyundai Getz Street In Ireland

Our flight was delayed from Paris, coupled with the delay with changing the rental car pitted me in the second largest city in Ireland during rush hour traffic with no experience driving on the left. I have to say it was quite the daunting driving experience, but after getting parked that night each successive day seemed like a breeze.  

I love Ireland, it is like a second homecoming, as the beauty of the land reminds me of being in rural Newfoundland, only the grass in Ireland is Emerald Green, even in November. In 2007, I made multiple trips, but never really experienced Ireland, as I did not venture outside capital cities. Therefore, I decided it was important to see the countryside and the best way to achieve this was to rent a car, as it allowed me the freedom to explore the tiny villages and rural castles. 

Prior to leaving I downloaded maps on my GPS (Gertrude Prudence Spencer, I mean Global Positioning System) as I felt that getting use to the narrow roads, new landscape and driving on the left would be enough for me to manage without having to find my destination. It would have been almost impossible to manage without the GPS, driving as much time would have been lost trying to find locations. 

Street In Ireland

I enjoyed taking “roundabouts” (traffic circles), claiming to be “roundabout king”. I am sure though maybe I received a horn once or twice.

 
The rural regions of Ireland are beautiful and the landscapes breathtaking. One does not have to look far to find why one would want to come to Ireland. For many of the same reasons, people flock to rural Newfoundland & Labrador.
 
Live Rural NL 0
Christopher Mitchelmore
%d bloggers like this: