Posts Tagged With: united kingdom

Next Stop: Belfast, Northern Ireland

So begins my 10 day tour of Ireland!

Photo 10-12-2012 07 23 13

~ Day 1 ~

With Paddy Wagon Tours (which I highly recommend taking if you really want see a lot in Ireland in a short amount of time) we started our day by driving to Belfast, which is actually in Northern Ireland and the only part of Ireland that is sectioned off and part of the UK. Ireland is its own country with euros as their currency, while Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom and uses pounds. This is a bit of a hassle to carry both euros and pounds, but its interesting at the same time. Not only is currency the only thing that separates Northern Ireland from Ireland, but also the road markings and signs. It’s interesting to note that driving in Ireland, you will have yellow lines on the left side of the road, where all of a sudden, when you enter Northern Ireland, the line turns white; indicating that you are now in a different country. There isn’t really a border or border patrol to enter each country, so that saves you the hassle of talking to the typically scary and intimidating officers at a country’s border.

Photo 10-12-2012 04 25 04 Photo 10-12-2012 04 28 20

At the start of our tour, we stopped in Drogheda to see the preserved head of St. Oliver Plunkett (death: 1681) in St. Peter’s Cathedral. It felt extremely eerie to see an actual head right near theater of the cathedral and I felt weird talking a picture of it, but I did. You know it’s going to be a good day when you start your morning with a viewing of a preserved dead man’s head. Afterwards, we stopped at a really beautiful cemetery called Monasterboice.

Photo 10-12-2012 05 12 20

On our drive to Belfast, we had one of the most cheerful, spontaneous and enthusiastic tour guide who sang Irish songs that some people knew, but most people didn’t. He would tell us all about the stories and interesting myths of Ireland and we would all laugh when he said a word that ended in “-th” because the Irish don’t pronounce “-th” and just pronounce the “-t”. For example, the say three as “tree” or say thirty as “terty”. It’s quite humorous fun.

Once we arrived, we all took a Black Taxi Tour around Belfast. This tour option is the cheapest and best way to get around the city. The Black Taxi Tour is the most recommended thing to do in Belfast, and it only costed £8 for each person to get driven around all the unique places of Belfast and told of all the history and events that have taken place around the city.

Photo 10-12-2012 07 12 29 Photo 10-12-2012 07 23 24
Photo 10-12-2012 07 35 08 Photo 10-12-2012 07 42 33
Photo 10-12-2012 08 06 29 Photo 10-12-2012 08 13 53

Even though it’s the 21st century, there is still religious conflict and riots in Belfast. There have been bombings, gun fires, murders, and distress between the Catholics and Protestants, who a mainly separated from each other in the own encased communities. Literally, there are walls that have been there for decades separating the Catholics and Protestants within the city. You would never have a Protestant living within the Catholic walls, and vice versa.

They have gates within each enclosed community and come Saturday night at 11:59, the gates close for 24 hours. For the entire Sunday, nobody is to leave or enter the gates because it is God’s day. Only one gate is left open for security and evacuation reasons, but still, I could not believe that this is going on in Northern Ireland. There is a peace wall in between the two religious communities with colourful political murals and graffiti where visitors can leave messages of peace and hope for the people of Belfast.

Photo 10-12-2012 09 01 17After the Black Taxi tour, we all went to the Christmas market. After we all got hot drinks and Christmas goodies, we began our walk around the city. Some people went to the Titanic museum, but it was beyond my money budget (plus I’ve already been to a lot of titanic museums). On the walk around the city, we saw the city centre, city hall, Albert clock, and Europia (the most bombed hotel in Europe).

Photo 10-12-2012 09 03 24Across from the hotel was a convenient store that sold something surprising and amazing: Tim Hortons. This was the only place in Ireland and in the UK where I saw Tim Hortons being sold. Tim Hortons is a very Canadian novelty and seeing Timmy’s in another country made me feel like I was back home again in Canada. I miss my Tim Hortons.

~

In the evening, all the paddy wagoners went out Photo 10-12-2012 11 01 22for dinner at an Irish pub and had a great time getting to know everyone. The hostel we stayed at was the sketchiest hostel I’ve ever stayed at. Barely any of keys would work and one room had to get the door broken into, because the none of the keys would work. I also had these guys knocking on the window in the middle of the night asking me to let them in, because they forgot their key. We were told not to let anyone from the outside in, because the last time some foolish tourist did that…

The outcome was horrific.

Important travel tip:

Bring Earplugs. They were literally a godsend with people knocking on the nearby window and the restless noises of 11 other people in your 12 person room. Perks of staying at a hostel for cheap.

~

Overall, Belfast was full of surprises, turmoil, history, and even beauty. If you are one for religious and political conflicts or the history surrounding it, check out Belfast, because although it’s the 21st century, it seems like they still live in the 19th or 20th century. It’s quite an interesting and unique city.

Check out my journey in Dublin, Ireland

Check out Day 2 on my Paddy Wagon Tour!

Categories: Autumn, Belfast, Blog, Canada, Dublin, Fall, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Seasons, Survival Guide, Travel Sights, Travel Tips, United Kingdom, Winter | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Next Stop: Liverpool, England

With a love for The Beatles and spark of interest to visit such a historical city, I was finally able to cross Liverpool (or “Liverpewl”) off my Places To Go list.

It was a beautiful Saturday morning when my friend Caroline and I arrived in Liverpool. We didn’t go with a tour company and had all the free time to do whatever and go wherever we wanted.

Because it was so sunny and beautiful that morning and didn’t know what the weather would be like later on, we decided to journey to Albert Dock, which is one of the most touristy places in Liverpool; mainly because of the shear beauty of the docks, but also due to the fact that the Beatles museum  as well as other museums that are located in the vicinity.

   

Albert Dock was the first place I visited and the last place I visited; it was my most favourite place about Liverpool. It was so incredibly beautiful and full of history. They had the Beatles Story Exhibition, the Tate Liverpool, International Slavery museum, and so many restaurants, shops and cafes. They even had a Yellow Submarine at the docks; if only I had gotten a chance to ride on it.

After a beautiful morning at Albert Dock, Caroline and I decided to venture into the heart of the city and see the three main cathedrals and churches that were of immense significance and beauty. We travelled through Chinatown to get to our first cathedral on our list: The Liverpool Cathedral.

  

Words can not express how beautiful this cathedral was, and most important, how huge it was. This Anglican Cathedral Liverpool of is the largest in the United Kingdom and the fifth largest in the world.

The exterior was just as beautiful as the interior; except this cathedral was free to see the inside, which makes things much more epic! The inside was awe-inspiring and even just the staircases reminded me how beautiful architecture is (and this was all because of a staircase). The photo to the left just reminded me of a scene from Harry Potter within Hogwarts. I wonder if these staircases move? Probably not. They were still magical to see none-the-less.

I rarely go to church, but I would most definitely go to a service if it was held in this magnificent cathedral.

   

Our next stop consisted of this run-down Church called St. Luke’s. It was located on the top of Bold Street and was significantly destroyed from bombing during the 1940’s. It is commonly now known as “the bombed-out church” and is quite interesting to see.

As we ventured through Bold street, which is known for there vintage shops and cafes, and finally came to the third and final church on our list: the Catholic Metropolitan Cathedral.

This cathedral looks like a bloody spaceship. It was actually really interesting to see and to take a look inside. I felt like I was in space or at least in a futuristic setting.

What I liked most about all three of these churches was the fact that they were all free to see and go inside; those are my favourite types of churches.

Caroline and I began to walk towards Mathew Street where The Cavern was located. The Cavern was where the Beatles first performed at a club during the 1960’s, and is now a huge tourist attraction.

      
After we hung out with The Beatles, we journeyed through the more industrial and busy area of Liverpool until we came to the World Museum. This was the start to journey of seeing all the museums in Liverpool.

Seeing as how time was limited, we decided to only go into two of the three museums on our list. The World Museum was not one of the two we really wanted to see.

Instead, we made our way back to Albert Dock to see the Merseyside Maritime Museum. Inside this museum, the had free entry to see the Titanic exhibition, as well as entry to the International Slavery Museum.

  Both the Titanic exhibition and Slavery museum were extremely interesting and knowledgeful. Both the history of the Titanic, as well as the history of Slavery interest me in a mixture of ways, and I learned a lot from both exhibitions.

After viewing the two exhibitions, we decided to head to Liverpool One, to see what it was all about. Basically, Liverpool One is like a giant shopping mall, except that its outside. You can climb this giant hill to reach the top floor of the shopping centre, and when you look below, you feel like your in an indoor shopping mall, but you’re not. It was really interesting to see, and there were lots of interesting and fashionable shops.

We realized that we had a few more hours left and decided to go to the Tate Liverpool. They had a Monet exhibition going on, but it costed a large amount of money to see it, and since I’ve already seen a lot of Monet paintings, I decided not to go. Instead, we were able to view some works of art on 2 floors of the Tate museum (because it was free). The works of art on these two floors were very contemporary and fairly odd pieces of art work; interesting, but questionable. I wasn’t as pleased by the art works offered at this museum compared to most of the free museums I visit, however, when I came to the last piece of artwork available, I was completely satisfied. They had one of the most recognizable, controversial and questionable pieces of art that really questioned “What Is Art? Who defines what is it?”: Fountain 1917 by Marcel Duchamp. I flipped when I saw this in the Museaum… but under close inspection, I realized that it couldn’t have been the real thing. Then I looked at the description block available on the wall, it backed up my hypothesis; a replica. Dang.

  

We spent the rest of our evening getting some Subway for dinner (YOLO!) and walking around the city and docks some more before we head to catch our ride back home to Leeds.


The sights and sounds of Liverpool were very beautiful and interesting. Even though Albert Dock was probably my most favourite thing about the city, I’m unsure whether I would have another reason to go back; it seems that Liverpool is just one of those cities that you only see once in your life and probably never go back. For me, it was missing that wow! factor…

I loved the churches, and found the museums very interesting, and would recommend the places I visited to those who have a desire to visit Liverpool. The air rings with Beatles music wherever you go, and if you get to visit Liverpool on a beautiful, sunny day; then you’re in luck.

~Ryan

Categories: Blog, England, Liverpool, Travel Sights, Travel Tips, United Kingdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Next Stop: York, England

Seeing as how the beautiful and historical town of York is only a 45 mins bus ride away, my fellow Austrailian friends and I decided to take a last minute trip up to see what York had to offer.

I’ll give you a little historical overview of the town York:

York is home to a very rich and historical heritage, as well as significant and beautiful buildings, churches, and the wall. Surrounding York is a large medieval wall that was used to protect the city, government and inhabitants from destruction and many wars. Depending on the season, areas within York will have large floods, and although it looks really interesting to see roads and buildings engrossed by water, the floods lead to transportation issues and closing of shops and pubs. Overall, York was a very beautiful city with lots to offer in terms of history, culture and beautiful sights.

After a comfortable and quick bus ride to York, my aussie friends and I decided to walk around the city and begin our tour to see all the main attractions of York: The Shambles, York Minster, The City Walls, Clifford’s Tower, York Brewery, and The Golden Fleece.

Our journey began with a visit to The Shambles, which I must saw, looks like a scene from the Harry Potter films; it honestly looks like Diagon Alley. My favourite part was called “Little Shambles” and was filled with little interesting shops selling children’s toys to traditional English sweets.

There were old cobble stone roads that surrounded The Shambles and run-down, crooked, wooden buildings that leaned over the alley. I was extremely tempted to pullout a wand and tap the bricks and waiting for the bricks to move, creating an entrance into the magical world of Harry Potter; I was so tempted… if only I hadn’t forgotten my wand at home. This place is a must see for those who visit York; especially fans of Harry Potter.

 

After a lovely walk through The Shambles and marketplace surrounding it, we ventured over to the largest Gothic cathedral in Northern Europe, which stands at the city’s centre: York Minster. The pictures below do not give the cathedral justice. York Minister was so big, that I couldn’t fit the whole thing in my camera to capture the beauty and entirety of the famous historical building. To go inside, it costed 16 pounds or so, and was highly recommended to go inside, as it is just as beautiful. However, I’m on a student budget for travelling expenses, so I didn’t go in; maybe another time. For now, I was just as amazed to see the exterior, as I probably would the interior.

  
Afterwards, we began our journey through the windy streets of York and explored the city by taking a look into the vast amounts of little shops and activities going on. We eventually came to the entrance to the City Walls; which was the coolest thing I’ve seen thus far in England. I find it fascinating that there are medieval walls still surrounding the city of York; not to mention the fact that you are able to walk on the city walls and literally circle around the city.


Every time I think of the walls, or see them, all I can think about is THE WALL from Game of Thrones. Back in the day, I’m sure the inhabitants would not want to leave the protection and safety within the wall or venture “North of the Wall”. The no dogs allowed on the city walls sign is also humourous to me, just as a result from references to Game of Thrones.

The walk around the City Walls was amazing, and the views of York were just gorgeous.

 

The Aussies and I decided to grab some food for lunch/dinner (or “tea” here) and ventured around the city some more for a good place to eat. We came across a pub called The Golden Fleece which was named the #1 Pub of the year, as well as a huge tourist attraction for it’s history and haunted stories. Apparently there are ghosts that inhabit the pub, and steal the menus and silverware (said the pub worker). The pub was really nice, and very dim lite. It definitely gave off the feel that it was haunted, but at the same time was a really cozy and interesting place to eat. The meals were somewhat pricey, but compared to other places, were extremely reasonable. The meals offered were humungous and extremely delicious. Therefore, the price was well worth it!

I had my very first English chicken pie; along side some chips and vegetables! It was extremely delicious and filling.
  

Once we finished our meals and relaxed for a good period of time, we ventured our way to Clifford’s Tower. This Tower is part of the York Castle, in which it was used as a prison and has an interesting history. The structure itself was so interesting to view as it sat on the top of a small hill.

  
Afterwards, we realized it was too late in the day to go anywhere else (there were a few more places I wanted to see in York, such as Castle Howard, but will have to wait for another day), so we decided to do what every British person does; have a pint at the local pub.

As we continued our journey through York to the bus station, I continued to admire the buildings, businesses, and interesting sights within the city walls. The city of York is one of my recommended places to visit while you are in England; it’s quite beautiful.

~Ryan

Categories: Autumn, Blog, England, Fall, Holidays, Seasons, Survival Guide, Travel Sights, Travel Tips, United Kingdom, York | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Blog at WordPress.com.