Belfast Bus Tours

I have had family in Northern Ireland all my life and flown in and out of Belfast International airport since before I could walk. But now that my parents live up the cost, I’ve finally started exploring the country properly. And the weather this week here is perfect! I say that sat in the garden sunbathing with the potential I could get a tan! aha

Belfast:

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I haven’t fully explored this place yet for more than a bit of shopping but I had time to kill yesterday whilst my mum was working so took a little tour on one of the open tour buses.

The Tour:

There are two tour companies (that I am aware of) that do full tours of the city:
the nationwide company City Sight Seeing with the bright red buses, and City Tours Belfast which is a smaller company. I took the latter because they currently have a deal on Groupon (voucher website) that will save you money of the tour. You’re looking at around £11.00 for an adult ticket with both companies but if you visit Groupon you can currently find a voucher for £6.50 a ticket. You will need to print out the ticket though (there is a photo shop near the start which does it for cheap in you’re travelling and this is tricky!).
Both tours start at the same place and there are guides for both companies majority of the time who are pleasant/will help you to the correct bus. The company I went with has a darker red bus. The start of the tour is on High Street, which is literally around the corner from City Hall.
I found this was a great way to get a look around a wider scope of the city but also able to learn where things were and where I may want to visit next. For example the Belfast Castle is set up on the hill overlooking the city but also on a good day like I had, I could see all the way to Scotland over the see!
My tour guide (Alan) was very helpful, funny yet modest. I find this important when touring a city with a past of such cultural and religious unrest, as he wasn’t biased either way, yet described all points of interest with just the right of info for someone new to the city. I would suggest that if English isn’t your first language or you struggle with the Belfast accent (even I struggled and I have family/friends from the country!) that you mention it the driver before starting as they do have headphones for taped commentary if needed. Saying that, the accent is great and adds to the experience!

Things to bear in mind:

  • Take warm clothing, even if its v sunny as it gets windy/cold up top and there is a small segment where you go on a fast/busy road (motorway)
  • Belfast is a city with strong religious roots so there are a lot of religious places/buildings/communities and if you do stop to visit try to remember this and be respectful
  • If you do hop off the bus to visit something, remember to take a map or where the stop is. It wasn’t always that obvious and the bus may not stop for long if you don’t make it clear you’re there
  • Pick up one of the maps as well for discount entrance to some of the attractions
  • The tour (summer route) takes approx 1.5hrs but can be longer at rush hour times!

Prices:

  • Adult £12.50
  • Student £10.50
  • Family £31.00
  • Child 5-12 £6.00 (under 5 free)

Timetable (based on summer schedule):

  • 1st tour 9.45am
  • last tour 4.45pm
  • every 30mins

 

Stops/Points of Interest:

  • Start  Albert clock/Custom House
  • Odyssey Pavillion  W5 Science Experience
  • Titanic Belfast  Visitors Centre
  • St Georges Anglican Church
  • St Anne’s cathedral
  • Cavehill Country Park
  • Belfast Castle  Gift Shop, Gardens
  • Belfast Adventure Playground  Hillwalk’s and Gardens
  • Antrim Road
  • Water Works  Scene of WWII Blitz
  • Crumbling Road  Jail/Courthouse/Distillery 
  • Full Belfast Peace Wall
  • Shankhill Road  Remembrance Gardens and Loyalist Wall Murals 
  • Falls Road  Bobby Sands Mural, Sinn Fein HQ, Clondard Monastery/ Home of Peace Talks
  • Sandy Row  Day’s Hotel/George Best Mural 
  • Lisburn Road
  • Queen’s University  Botanical Gardens/Ulster Museum
  • Shaftesbury Square  Benedicts/Laverys 
  • Europa Bus Station
  • Jurys Hotel  Spires Mall
  • Finish
Now it is a great city and I will definitely be heading back either for shopping or sight-seeing, but I would suggest splitting it into segments. It is unlikely you’ll see everything in one day, and if you try that I can’t imagine it’ll be much fun! So look online for deals and tips first, but I highly recommend that if you have the time and weather hop onto one of the buses as it’s an easy way to see key places and plan your visit.
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Look out for more on Belfast and I hope the weather is as good for you!
Enjoy!
Liv x
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My Friend Rachel

Big apologies to everyone that I have missed a few weeks on here! Busy at work and weekends clogging/tiring the mind!

Last weekend though I was reunited with one of my best friends but also a true hero to me. This isn’t a travel blog I know but I just wanted to share a little bit about my life outside of traveling, something that keeps me going so I can travel etc.

18156419_10209507821475791_920244665128890354_oWe first met just over 2 years ago when one of friends from rowing wanted to introduce us. She could see the struggle I was having with my newly diagnosed epilepsy at rowing but throughout life as well. as a group of rowing friends we went out to a little quaint pub near me, and the moment we met it was like two old friends talking. I hope she agrees! Haha, well I know she does as we still inspire each other just as much 2 years down the line (and she talks to me!).

Now Rach has a little back story which isn’t mine to tell, but I will say that she is a great advocate for her sport and abilities. Known quite well in the local community you maybe recognise her as the Gold Paralympic medalist from Rio in the single scull (rowing) event, but a past Paralymic medalist ins hand cycling at London and Bejing. When I found this out I was in au of her! But her kind and modest attitude opened up and she brushed it aside focusing on me that day. She has been such an inspiration overtime Ive been in hospital, with every seizure, every trial at rowing, work, LIFE…she has been there for me. I may be away and ditzy so feel that I haven’t always been there for her sometime….but having recently watched her through another trial in life I am even more amazed at proud of you Rach!

16114502_10208698335639151_8998006193507757468_nI’ve been lucky enough to have stayed out of hospital for 3 months, touch wood, but Rach was back with another surgery. Months, MONTHS! she has been recovering in hospital with the visits from family and friends keeping her going. I have seen her many times and lucky enough to see her breakout as such to come and christen the new adaptive boat at the club, come for the annual Guildford RC Spring Ball, and spend her birthday with her. But luckiest of all I got to witness her opening her MBE! I know it has been a difficult time stuck in hospital for you Rach but it is nearly over and you have such events as receiving you MBE and joining me back on the river our adaptive rowing boat! ahah

I may not be physically disabled the majority of times, but I don’t see disabilities, just abilities. And Rach as super abilities! She has given me my hope and confidence back many times when I was sat in hospital being told I’d had another life threatening seizure, being told my medications weren’t working, being told I may never find a cause or solution…we all need someone like that and I have found mine!
I have very good friends and family yes, I am lucky! And I know this is a very long line about a best friend. But to have met and loved the girl behind the Paralympian I am truelly honoured.

IMG_3938I was lovely see each other at the GRC Ball last week, and bring a calm to my life amongst the chaos. I hope you’re not mad at me for this little rant Rach aha!

14449806_10157430658515587_2589577559453908030_nNever give up on you dreams. Mine is to travel the world, and although work and funds my stop me currently, health isn’t going to stop me. How would I get stories like my trip to an Indian hospital otherwise? No point living within the lines!

Ps. I hope you don’t hate me for this Rach!

Enjoy!

Liv x