AA + bus to the Titanic Museum, Belfast

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by tom911, May 3, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. tom911
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    tom911 Gold Member

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    Started at SFO with a 0920 departure Monday morning to Chicago on an AA 737-800. Had a 3 hour layover there which gave me time to visit the Flagship Lounge (first class international lounge). Nibbled on some pizza rolls and chicken kebab and washed that down with a Sams Adams. Didn't want to eat too much as I knew I'd be fed well on the Dublin flight.

    Nice 767-300 flight to Dublin with an 1830 departure--just walked right out the back door of the lounge to the gate. The woman sitting next to me, a Chicago resident, was on the way to meet her husband in Dublin who is on assignment in Scotland. They were heading up here to Belfast on Thursday to see the Titanic Museum. The flight had a couple empty seats up front.

    I selected turkey meatloaf as my main course. This is one of the signature dishes that a name-brand chef puts together for AA (the chef also has a lemon grass chicken dish on the menu). Other choices were ravioli or a shrimp dish. I had read some reviews on this meat loaf dish as I was a little worried. I had recently bought the turkey meatloaf that Costco sells in the Bay Area and didn't care for it, but the AA meatloaf, according to one flyer, is supposed to be 50-50 beef/turkey, and I have to admit the meat itself tasted just fine. It could have used a little more pizzaz like some salsa instead of a weak tomato sauce. I probably would not order it again unless it came down to ravioli or meatloaf.
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    AA supplies Samsung tablets, like the one I have along with me (not good for lengthy e-mails as you have to use the on-screen keyboard), and I watched The Descendants with George Clooney. Made me want to buy a CD with Hawaiian music once I got off the plane. I had sampled another movie and went to this as my second choice.

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    Slept 2-3 hours at most and was up 2 hours before landing for breakfast.

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    Was at the gate at 0830 and at passport control 10 minutes later. Officer working there commented that those with my family name always come back to Ireland. Although he asked the two couples in line ahead of me how long they would be in Ireland, he didn't ask me, probably because I told him I'm back every year.

    Hit an ATM for Euros, then across the walkway to the bus zone where it was raining. Took shelter under a bus shelter and caught the 0920 bus to Belfast (just over 2 hours, 23 Euros, about $31RT--a one way ticket was $21). Figured when I come back to Dublin this weekend I'll work my way in from the airport for the cost savings of a round trip. Interesting that the bus I was on, operated by the Irish carrier Bus Eireann, is not allowed to pick up passengers once we cross into the U.K.-- they can only drop off. We did make three stops along the way, the first being in Newry, and I'm convinced the bus driver is trying to gain a slot in the Indianapolis 500. He passed cars, zipped around roundabouts and intersections, and clearly didn't want to waste any time getting up to Belfast. I'm still surprised he didn't take out a street sign or another car.

    Once in Belfast about a 20 min walk to the Holiday Inn Express on University Street. Lost my bearings slightly as there are so few street signs here. I knew I was heading in the right direction and just intersected with University a couple blocks further out than planned. Checked in right at noon. Had printed a google map but forgot to download the google city map to my tablet. Have that now.

    After a long nap headed into the city in the evening, walking around City Hall, the Europa Hotel which has some history to it (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Europa_Hotel,_Belfast ), and a very dead city center. Not many people out and about. Might have rained while I was sleeping as the streets were wet. Stopped in a Kentucky Fried Chicken just before 10 for a chicken breast sandwich, cole slaw, piece of chicken, fries and a Diet Coke for about $8. Checked out a number of restaurants and will probably hit one of those over the next few days for dinner. Botanic Street, which is about 5 mins from my hotel, is packed with cafes, coffee shops (Starbucks and Neros) and markets, so everything I need is pretty close by.
    The first 10 photos in this gallery are from my two AA flights:
    http://tom911.smugmug.com/American-...rrier/21772732_vzL6js#!i=1823924552&k=HNvqSxZ
    --more--
     
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  2. tom911
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    tom911 Gold Member

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    After a hot breakfast at the hotel (scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, passed on the beans), I was out the door at 0930 Wednesday for a walking tour through parts of the city center, and then across the River Lagan to the Titanic Quarter. I had booked my Titanic Museum ticket on line just before leaving for noon, just to make sure I had a slot, and allowing plenty of time to get there. I arrived at 11, provided my booking number, and picked up my ticket. Hung around until noon using free wi-fi in the lobby and visiting the gift shop.
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    The museum is very heavy on old black and white video and photos, including the actual video of the Titanic launch 100 years ago. The first section you go through on the second floor features old Belfast including linen and tobacco workers and ship company posters. This section features the old black and white video showing life in Belfast. On arrival on the top floor there is a Disneyesque ride through an attraction where you see ship workers riveting and piecing the Titanic together. At the very end of the tour there is a theatre showing underwater footage of the Titanic as it is today. Most of the photos I took are from the videos and photos. There are also some interactive exhibits with newspaper articles and viewing of items found on and around the Titanic (everything from cookware to shoes). I spent almost 2.5 hours there and it was well worth the visit. There are some dates in the next week that the museum is completely sold out, though those dates center around weekends.
    Belfast city view:
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    Titanic launching 100 years ago:
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    Titanic at sea:
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    The Titanic Quarter is where the shipbuilding yards of Belfast are located. Behind the museum there is an outline on the ground and metal poles showing the size of the Titanic. The ship itself is the exact height of the museum to put things in scale.
     
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  3. tom911
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    tom911 Gold Member

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    On the way back to the hotel I stopped at the Odyssey Center which houses a movie theatre and cafes for a chicken tikka wrap. Along the way back to my hotel I passed a well-fortified police station. What is very evident is all the properties for sale or rent--there are signs everywhere. While on the bus up here the driver had the radio on , and there was a report that properties across the Republic of Ireland to the south had lost 45% value over the last couple years, with Dublin being hit particularly hard with losses up to 60% depending on type of property. Clearly Belfast up in The North has not been spared.
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    Dinner Wednesday night was on tree-lined Botanic Avenue, just a 5 minute walk from my hotel, at Scalini's Italian Restaurant which had red and white checkered table cloths and was listed in my guide book. I had the Scalini pizza for $15 which featured mushrooms, bacon, pineapple, ham, sausage and sweet corn. I had them hold the bacon. Very good and I finished everything except one slice.
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    Down for breakfast Thursday morning and did cereal, yogurt, toast and a banana today. Can't do these full hot meals like I had Wednesday every day. Might do a train trip out today once I look at schedules.
    Titanic Museum photos:
    http://tom911.smugmug.com/Travel-Eu...lfast/22761080_JwRwxq#!i=1825719630&k=5M5RzqX
    Belfast city photos (not many there yet):
    http://tom911.smugmug.com/Travel-Eu...eland/22761124_fGm5DX#!i=1825729796&k=59LkxBK
     
  4. rwoman
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    rwoman Gold Member

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    Thanks for sharing, tom911! :)
     
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  5. KathInJax

    KathInJax Silver Member

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    Thanks for posting - I didn't realize that we needed to get tickets ahead of time. So far, our dates are not sold out. Do you think that it will be interesting for children (ages 30+, 14, 12, & 9)?
     
  6. sobore
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    sobore Gold Member

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    tom911 does it again with another awesome TR!
     
  7. tom911
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    tom911 Gold Member

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    There was a school group there touring when I visited, I'd guess 12-14 years old, and they looked pretty bored with most of the exhibits. The two things they did have interest in was interactive kiosks that featured items on the ocean floor around the Titanic and movie posters on Titanic movies. I paid about $22.50 for entry. Didn't check the ticketing site to see how much of a discount kids get.
     

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