“Someday we’ll return here. When the Belfast Child sings again.” – Simple Minds
Belfast City — “Never forget where you’re coming from” – Take That
When I left Bangor in 2003, I didn’t mean to travel the world. Honestly. It just happened. Yet here I am, on a Sunday afternoon in Belfast, working out my schedules. How do I get from Belfast to Ballintoy? Why do tourists take taxis in Belfast, when walking normally suffices? How much is a Guinness in the Crown Bar in Belfast?
“It’s a city that’s changing” – Boney M
Train out of Belfast
After my constant writings on numerous sites promoting Northern Ireland, an opportunity came up for me to travel round my home country. I’m not shy of being Northern Irish. In fact, it’s my lifeblood. Geographically we’re on the island of Ireland. Politically we are under the rule of the UK. But me? I’m Northern Irish.
“One man’s freedom fighter is another’s terrorist” – Primal Scream
Flying the Northern Ireland flag in Antarctica.
I’m proud of our 6 counties and the weights we constantly punch above. I said it before: I don’t want to be an “also ran”. And neither, my friends did Rory McIlroy, Gerry Armstrong, Wayne McCullough, Van Morrison, Tim Wheeler, Ian Paisley, Darren Clarke, Dennis Taylor. David Healy. Yes, David Healy. None of them were “also running”. They were the best at what they did and they made bloody sure the world knew where they were from. This little magical country called Northern Ireland.
So here I am, sat with a pint of Guinness, my favourite beer in the world. I’m sitting in the Piano Bar here on Great Victoria Street in Belfast. The very building I am in is the swanky Europa Hotel. Some would argue, this is the best hotel in Northern Ireland.
In the 1980s, it made headlines as being the most bombed hotel in Europe. I’d get home from school. “The Europa was bombed again” said my Dad. It was casual, normal and as a 1980s Northern Irish kid, we lived in the moment. It was enjoy yourself, on with the show and if we get a future, we’ll enjoy that too. “Don’t Stop Living.”
“They [Spartak Moscow] couldn’t beat Glentoran in their Belfast home” – Stephen Le Fevre
Spartak Moscow tried and failed, they couldn’t beat Glentoran in their Belfast home.
My plan for the next week then is to travel through Belfast, have a pint in the Crown bar, relive the tourist sights of my hometown of Bangor, stay by the Atlantic Ocean in Ballintoy, near the Carrick a Rede Rope Bridge and grab a coffee in Newtownards.
“We’re not Brazil, We’re Northern Ireland” – Stewart McAfee
Quay Street, Bangor, Northern Ireland – home of the Windsor. My local pub.