Northern Ireland

 

I have been meaning to visit Northern Ireland (N.I.) for quite a long time since 2011. And now, I was finally here. 19th of March was the day when I had the opportunity to finally step into the Irish world of Guinness, green clovers, leprechauns and rainbows. I must say, I am in love with the northern coasts! It is so rich in natural beauty that it almost feels unreal... The shores, the natural features, the meadows, the hills, the greenery, the sea... Truly worth the praise it gets for being one of the most beautiful and best touristic places in UK.

So, two of my friends and I decided to do a little trip up to the northern highlands of Ireland partly for work but mostly for leisure. The thing was, a Glaswegian friend of mine and I were to apply for American visas for this conference we are intending to attend in Vegas, Nevada (I know... "Work"! Lol!) and although London is almost right next door to me, it would be quite a trek for him to come all the way to London just for a day, instead, he could just pop-down to his nearest port at Belfast. Now, we could have done our own visas separately, me in London, him in Belfast, but he wasn't very sure of a few details of applying, whereas I have already been through the system before (2 years ago), so I decided that I will join him to apply for my visa in Belfast instead, that way I could meet up with my friends AND get to visit N.I. for the very first time, win win!!! Besides, my very dear friend from Liverpool (also a close friend from Assam), who has not been to N.I. either, decided to join us for the weekend on our little escapade :D So, off we went. On the 18th of March I took the national express from Southampton University to Liverpool University via Victoria coach station (about £5 each trip! Yup, university offers ;]). After about 7 hours of road trip, I finally made it to the metropolitan borough of Liverpool. I met up with my bestie at about 5 PM at the interchange and the rest of evening was spent eating home-cooked dinner and reminiscing on the old times together all the way till 2 in the morning... My my, can girls talk XD And we would have carried on if it weren't for the fact that our plane leaving for Belfast was scheduled for early morning at 8:30, which meant we had to be up and ready by 5AM at the latest (airport is a while away from where she lived). Next day we spent the morning prepping and travelling to the exciting new island, waiting just for us to explore... At about 9:25AM we were there, and thus began our incredible journey into the world of Northern Ireland!

BELFAST 


Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland, is a beautiful city that is quite rich in irish cultural heritage. It is the largest city in N.I. and translates to "the mouth of sanbanks" in irish. A famous place for touristic persuits for people from far and wide, the city has a lot to offer both culturally, industrially, artistically, as well as entertainment wise.  It is blessed with a micro-climate conducive to horticulture due the mountanous abode. From the Victorian Botanic Gardens in the heart of the city to the heights of Cave Hill Country Park, the great expanse of Lagan Valley Regional Park to Colin Glen, Belfast contains an abundance of parkland and forest parks. Here is a list of all the things you could do in Belfast.
 My friend and I together travelled to the B&B we had pre-booked from the Airport. It was conveniently just a walk-away from the Queen's University, Ulster museum, the botanical garden, and the town centre. There we met up with the third member of our group, had a lovely chinese meal for lunch, and spent the rest of the day moseying around the town, exploring the local restaurants and pubs. Next day was all about exploring the city in full capacity!
 

Belfast Botanic Garden


For our first exploration we walked up towards the Ulster museum that cut across the beautiful park consisting of Belfast botanic gardens. It was a lovely sunny day that called for a nice cone of ice cream to go with the holiday vibe. Since it was on our way and my liverpudlian friend and I being flower fiends, we decided to visit the beautiful botanic garden just in time for the first day of spring!

Green house botanic garden
Cheery faces
Spring's abloom
  
Beautiful greens
Potted cactii
Bagonias
Core
So many spikes, it almost looks fluffy
HAPPY SPRING!

From there, we edged on to the famous Ulster museum...

Ulster Museum


Ulster Museum is a massive museum on history, natural sciences, archeology and arts that has everything from dino fossils to mummies exhibited for all. There were art galleries with mastpieces ranging from Irish and british fine arts and sculpture dating back to 1600s, to modern and contemporary abstract artworks. There was also a very powerful exhibition on paintings on trouble and depression. We had a fantastic 3 hours at the museum getting history lessons, the kind of which I could do with when I was younger ;)... 

 Anyway, here are a few highlights from the museum.

Ulster Museum
Bold is the new theme
Willow dragons
Fossil
So many faces to wear, which one shall I choose for today?
The four egyptian canopic jars
Curious orb
Beautiful marble sculpture
The immaculate details of this painting is just mind boggling
17th century Irish painting
Neonoir art work from the 20th century
When in trouble... Call the mummy
After our little tour de museum, we headed to a nearby art cafe, Cafe Conor, that used to be a studio for a local artist, William Conor, for a lovely meal complete with exquisite dessert (delicious aero mint chocolate cheesecake with ice cream for me please) as a happy ending for our lovely day.

Pudding's a must!
After the fabulous meal we headed off towards our B&B, however, we made a little stop over on our way at the grand university of Belfast for a lookie.

Queen's University Belfast


 A research university chartered since the mid 1800s, Queen's university has quite a lovely architecture.

Mandela Hall
Queen's University
Lovely 1800s architecture
Majestic institution

Statues and flowers

The rest of the evening was spent eating at a lovely indian fine diner, doing pub crawls and parousing into the city. We were all really excited for what was coming up next!
  
Stay tuned...