Travel notes: Belfast (1)

To Belfast for the wedding of Niamh Rooney and Bill Stewart. The wedding – and the city – is very friendly and welcoming. The city is still a little shabby and beaten up in places, but thankfully the bride and groom are not.

We stayed at the Crescent Townhouse, off Botanic Avenue, which is an unpretentious boutique hotel, if there is such a thing. The staff were very, very friendly and only occasionally inefficient – I’m still disappointed at not getting toast at breakfast on Saturday, almost as much as at the unrequested 0630 wake-up call.

Wandered around the shops on Saturday morning before taking the inevitable bus tour, which covered the murals on the Falls and Shankhill Roads as well as the more usual docks, city hall, etc. Saturday afternoon, we went out and about with Colin, a friend of Bill.

We started with an adequate coffee at the trendy but faintly annoying bar Apartment (Donegall Square West), and took a stroll round the City Hall. City Hall – rather OTT, and resembling the offspring of Leeds City Hall and Saint Paul’s Cathedral – is celebrating its 100th anniversary, and has an exhibition of its history which is almost interesting, but is horrendously let down by being entirely phrased in the first person (my city, my mayor, etc.). This might work for three years olds but doesn’t work for me – just reminds me of the My Computer icons and similar ghastliness.

We then headed down to the Ulster Museum. It’s a good museum, but it has bizarre opening times (only afternoons at weekends, but all day during the week?). Finally, out into the country for a stroll around Giant’s Ring, a fortification on the edge of Lisburn.