Belfast Is A Nice Place To Visit
Image by infomatique
I have visited Belfast a number of times but I have never had the opportunity to explore the city in detail until this weekend.
When I booked a room in the Ibis Hotel I did not realize that because of the British royal wedding Friday was a bank holiday in Northern Ireland. Fortunately this did not have a negative impact on my activities and, in fact, it might have been to my advantage because the streets and footpaths were less crowded. However, it was not easy to find a restaurant that was open before 6pm.
At first glance Belfast (city centre) appeared to me to be more prosperous than Dublin but this impression may have been due to the fact that civic buildings and facilities are better maintained. The buildings and structures of Belfast comprise many styles of architecture ranging from Edwardian through to state-of-the-art modern buildings like the Waterfront Hall. The city’s beautiful Edwardian buildings are notable for their display of large numbers of sculptures. Many of Belfast’s Victorian landmarks, including the main Lanyon Building at Queens University in 1849, were designed by Sir Charles Lanyon. In the city centre there was little evidence of the royal wedding but there were some street parties elsewhere within the greater urban area.
After two days I began to notice that all was not as it appeared – there were many empty buildings and failed businesses in or near the centre. The city appears to have a number of problems which could impact on the tourist industry, the major one being the amount of on-street consumption of alcohol and judging by the notices posted around the city and in railway stations the authorities are well aware of the issue. On-street smoking by staff outside business premises is unattractive (we do have this problem in Dublin but not to the same extent).
Note: Northern Ireland uses sterling – the British pound. However, if you are visiting Northern Ireland, you need to be aware that while they accept Bank of England notes, they also have their own. Although these notes are legal tender in the rest of the United Kingdom, they are usually refused in shops and other places where money changes hands; you may have to go to a bank to "convert" them into Bank of England notes. During my visit I received nothing but Ulster Bank or Bank Of Ireland notes and based on previous experience I can tell you that they will be refused if you try to use them in England ( I don’t know about Scotland or Wales ). To be fair to all involved they did replace the local currency with standard sterling notes when requested to do so. I must admit that I was a bit surprised by the universal reluctance to accept Euro … in the Central Railway Station despite the fact that the shop had a notice showing "Today’s Euro Exchange Rate" they refused to accept payment in Euro (note: they do accept Euro payments on the Enterprise Express).