Late in 2017 I spent a couple of days visiting Belfast and Dublin to continue our knowledge and expertise of these wonderful cities. Located only an hour a part, they make for the perfect city break combo filled with culture, craic and a pint or two of the blackstuff.
Arriving into the heart of Belfast, it takes merely minutes to see what kind of city it is - from the Industrial Revolution to the political troubles of the 20th century and everything in between. It seems Belfast had the monopoly of trade and production, including linen, rope-making and tobacco-processing. But even as I strolled through the streets, their past is everywhere and quite rightly so! There is so much to see and do in Belfast - City Hall, Crumlin Road Prison, Ulster Museum and St Anne's Cathedral. Home to Harland & Wolff, the world's biggest shipyard of its time and of course - the birthplace of RMS Titanic, this was an absolute must for me! Within the Titanic Quarter is an impressive building and home to the Titanic Experience. As I explored each floor, I went from enthusiastic to emotional. Many Belfast workers and Irish immigrants travelled on the Titanic and as I reached the floor which displays stories of the last 2 hours of Titanic's life, I sympathised with the grief the country felt the morning after when the news hit.
The journey from Belfast to Dublin is beautiful; it's definitely not a dull journey! Like Belfast, I knew what kind of city this was from the outset - a high-spirited capital, with a social buzz around every corner. A wander through Temple Bar is an experience in itself and even during the day it's busy with people holding pints of Guinness in the doorways. Speaking of Guinness, all newcomers need to visit the Storehouse, not only to see how this famous drink was made, but also to learn about the Guinness family and how their generosity improved the city. With two days touring, I would recommend visiting Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin Castle and Trinity College & Book of Kells. Only a ten minute drive from the city centre, you must visit Kilmainham Gaol - an 18th century prison used until 1924. The prison played an important part during the Potato Famine and the Easter Uprising. As I followed my guide through the cold stone corridors, passing famous cells occupied by revolutionary Irishmen and women, I was overcome by the facts I heard. To hear that the country has still not recovered in population following the famine silenced me and listening to the guide, his patriotism was awe-inspiring.
There is so much the cities can offer, each one different, which is why we recommend a few nights in both to ensure an all-round view!