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Mooring at Titanic Quarter in Belfast

Image of the Belfast titanic museum

12th February 2024

We had an easy day after we arrived at Belfast Marina in the heart of the city because were a little weather beaten after a long day sailing out in the cold again. That sure is a change to living a sheltered marina life with heating and pyjamas till noon.

We were however starving so went to a nearby pizza chain because it was closest to us. Steve was suffering from a little bit of land sickness and we really had pull up the socks to find the energy to explore the town later in the evening. But we found a small friendly bar that was filled with a group of young musicians; 3 playing the fiddle, 2 playing the guitar, 2 playing the banjo and 1 played a flute. They were just jamming and enjoying themselves and we were almost the only people there. This is really a part of the Irish culture that we love and that is very exotic to Sarah who comes from a country where live music is thoroughly practiced before being played live to an audience.

The Titanic Museum

The next few days had promised rain and snow, so we had planned to go to the relatively new and very impressive Titanic museum. This was very touching and interesting exhibit, that told the story of Belfast in the early 1900s and what an accomplishment it was to build an enormous ship like the Titanic in just three years at the Harland and Wolff Shipyard.

We can only say that it is amazing how far health and safety at the work place has moved in that time and we hope nobody has to catch melting hot metal anymore. If you are unsure what we mean by catching hot metal, please watch this video of riveting.

St George’s market and the botanical garden

Friday we walked to the market at the old market buildings where the smell took Steve back to his childhood in Nottinghamshire when he used to visit a fish and meat market with his mother (Sarah still thinks of hobbits every time he mentions English Shires and has a lot of fun with that).

It was a fine building and the old clock that is more than 200 years old is very nice. There were also a lot of home made cakes that were really tempting.

We then walked to the botanical gardens that were also very pretty, but Sarah being used to the one in Copenhagen was a little disappointed. If you are into jungle plants in warm glass houses the one in Copenhagen is the much better choice.

It was time for some lunch so we continued our walk and found an outdoor food market, where we had some bao buns and shared a blood orange merengue pie – the temptation to try this was too big.

Afternoon Tea and Bill Bailey

On Saturday we were on a mission to see if Sarah could finish an Afternoon Tea. The whole project had been carefully planned so that we would walk the streets looking for galleries and street art and then very hungry go to the tea at 4 pm.

We went to the Engine Room Gallery set in an old shabby three story office building, which was a very different experience. A very friendly man told us how the artists got the building from the town and were a group of artists working as a collective and exhibiting there.

We also went to the MAC (metropolitan arts centre) and saw a great exhibit by a modern Irish visual artist Niamh McCann

Unfortunately the other places we had found were closed so we walked back to the boat to change into evening clothes.

The afternoon tea was booked at the historic former headquarters of Harland and Wolff, the shipbuilders responsible for Titanic and many other famous ocean liners. It was served in the old drawing room on finest china that was used on the White Star Line ships.

Sarah almost succeeded in eating all of her half but was very very full afterwards and struggling to understand the concept of serving that much food. This is the last time we are doing it Steve now insists.

By chance we had seen that the comedian Bill Bailey was performing right next to the marina and our boat in the SSE arena and we were able to get some resale tickets to the show at a reasonable price.. He is very funny and talented with different musical instruments, the drunk guy in the row in front of us was having a blast clapping (all by himself) and whooing (all by himself). It was a very good day.

Sunday packing and prepping

The Sunday was spent doing chores like washing clothes and organising the boat before leaving for Sarahs visa interview in Denmark. Luckily we also got to go and see some excellent live Irish music at Fibber Magee’s so the day was not completely wasted. We are really enjoying Belfast! It is a great city.

Fibber Magee’s

The Irish people and doors

One thing we are struggling to understand is the Irish people’s use of doors. If there is a doorway designer reading this, you should go there and help them! So far we have met a lot of “automatic doors” that will only open if you press a button that is normally hard to find. Or automatic doors that react so slowly that you think they are broken. Or lacking handles that makes you think you need to push, but then it is a small line you have to try to clench you finger into, or handles placed in the height of your knees. Yes it’s an old door but we don’t believe people were that small in the 18th century unless this is for the leprechauns!

If you are and Irish door designer please watch this video before going to work tomorrow!

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