The boys and I headed out of the Republic of Ireland and into Northern Ireland for the holiday weekend. We rented a car, packed up the kids, and braved the roads while driving a right-side manual on the left left side of the roads.
The drive up to Belfast was simply beautiful. The weather was a bit hazy, but we were able to see some amazing Irish countryside. With passports in hand, we crossed the border into Northern Ireland. However, there was no one there to check, or stamp , them. We were freely driving through into another country without anyone really noticing. We were taken aback a bit as we had not expected it to be so easy.
Nevertheless, we continued to drive toward Belfast, around the mountains, through towns, and surviving the roundabouts. A wise man once said, “Don’t hesitate in the roundabouts, the other cars smell fear!”
Staying on course, we managed to reach Belfast within a little under two hours in the car. The city was busy, given it was a Friday, and there was a ton of commotion as we neared the river. The weekend was a big weekend in Belfast. The Tall Ships Races were in town, and so people were buzzing around the river, engaging in festivities all related to the races. There were ships flanked up and down the river, decorated with banners and pendant flags. It was pretty cool to see so many in one spot!
Just off the same river, we had reached our first destination, theTitanic Experience Museum. This beautiful museum was built for the centennial anniversary of the ship’s sinking. From the outside, the shape of the building looked like four ship bows placed together to create one building. It gleamed a metallic silver color.
Inside the museum, we rested in the bistro, had a fabulous salmon lunch and took time to refuel the boys before starting the exhibits. We gathered tickets at the ticket queue, both for the Titanic Experience exhibits and The Nomadic . We were told that The Nomadic would be a great place for the kids, so we obliged and pre-bought those tickets to meander over to after we finished with the main exhibits.
An escalator brought us to the first floor of exhibits, where we learned about Belfast’s history and the booming town it was in 1912. Belfast had, and continues to have, the largest shipyards in Ireland. It was also the linen capital of the world in the early 1900s. Ir only made sene that these two facts coexisted in one town, they go hand in hand when you think about all the sails and linens needed for the ships.
From that exhibit we soared up four stories in a lift. Getting off, a museum guide advised us to look over the rail that looked straight down the four stories we just came up. She mentioned that this was the height many men worked while working on ships at the ship yard. She also added that men who worked on the Titanic worked at even higher heights. Yikes!
We snaked around to enter the “Shipyard Ride,” an interactive ride that took us on a tour of the working conditions and life of the the men working in the shipyards. If you have been to Disney World, the ride was comparable to The Haunted Mansion with the addition of going up and down.
After enjoying a smooth ride, we maneuvered through the rest of the exhibits. We took a 3-D tour of the Titanic, floating from floor to floor from boiler room to captain’s wheel house. We also got to see what the various cabins would have looked like for the various classes of passengers.
We explored the Titanic, from Maiden Voyage to the sinking to the discovery of the Titanic in the mid-80’s. The museum was done very well.
Our next stop was to go see what The Nomadic was all about!