Perullo Press

Belfast

Jerry had to go to  Belfast and London for work so we made a family trip our of it and brought my little sister along. We flew into Dublin for a couple days, then took the train to Belfast, and then flew to London. Both of us were far more excited for my little sister Lydia, 11, than we were for ourselves. Here’s a summary of our Belfast experience.

We arrived in Belfast Friday afternoon, checked into the Radisson Blu hotel and set out on foot to figure out the layout of the city and find dinner. At some point it started raining and we were pressured into picking a restaurant in order to get out of the rain. We were hungry and we each enjoyed our meals. By the time we were done with dinner the rain had stopped and we enjoyed the cool walk back to the hotel.

I’ll take this moment to mention how wonderful the weather was for our entire trip. The mornings and evenings were perfectly crisp and it never got warmer than the upper 70s in all 3 cities we visited. This was unusually warm weather for the local folks though.

We noticed a ton of people from all over the world in Belfast that weekend. It wasn’t long before we discovered we were there the weekend of the 2013 World Police & Fire Games. Essentially the World Olympics for police and fireman. It was a big deal. Who knew such an event even existed? The entire weekend was filled with different events and as you can read later, we attended the criterium that took place on Monday 5 August.

Day 1 in Belfast:

Saturday morning Jerry went cycling with a local group into the beautiful countryside while Lydia and I started our day at St. George’s Market. This market was full of people selling souvenirs and a ton of delicious food. There were so many food options that we walked through the whole market about 2 times before we decided on what to eat. Lydia went with a Cuban sandwich and I went with a green salad (peas, broccoli, edamame, & green beans), a lentil and beet salad, and 2 slices of wheaton bread. This bread was AMAZING! The wheat was very course-ground giving the bread a cornbread like consistency. I can’t wait to find a recipe and make some myself (I’m sensing another post). For dessert I couldn’t resist the light fluffiness of the Russian Pavlova cake.

We’ve referred to Cella as the ‘wee one’ ever since she was born. Once in
Ireland, everyone referred to her as the wee one. It was pretty funny and
entertaining. In fact, ‘wee’ was used at least once in every sentence,
sometimes more. “Would you happen to have a wee box for these wee
earrings?”  “I have three wee ones and the wee-est (how do you even spell
that?!) of them…” -True story.
After brunch Lydia found some souvenirs she liked and managed to bargain for a couple of them. As timid as she is, she did a far better job at this bargaining thing than I will ever do. I’m a joke. I’ll give a counter-price and I’m pretty much laughed at, what’s up with that? We found somebody selling rabbits – they were so cute! The desire to own one as a pet was really strong…until I remembered that they poop and pee.

After the market Lydia and I headed to the city hall. There we saw the Titanic Memorial (the Titanic was built in Belfast – that’s their claim to fame). We saw quite a large law enforcement presence  around the city hall and attributed it to the games going on that weekend. It was only after our trip that we discovered the police were there due to riots. There’s a pretty stupidly fascinating story behind these annual riots. It boils down to the Protestant minority celebrating their victory over the Catholic majority with annual contentious peaceful marches, which inevitably turn violent. Ah, religion and all its class.

We rented some bicycles and a trailer for the wee that were dropped off at the hotel in the morning. Once Jerry got back from his century ride he got right back on the bike and we headed off to Comber. Comber is a small town southeast of Belfast connected by a pretty greenway. It was a mess trying to find the start of the greenway but we finally got on the Comber Greenway and enjoyed all the beautiful country views…the smells, not so much. The trailer was meant for kids a lot bigger than Cella. No problem though, we folded and rolled up towels to make her fit nice an snug in the trailer and I think she enjoyed it for the most part. We had planned to have dinner in Comber, but since we arrived a lot later than planned we decided against having dinner there. The last thing we needed was to get stuck on the remote Comber Greenway as it got dark outside. Our trip came out to be a 22  mile bike ride, far more than Lydia has ever bicycled. Lydia was a great sport about the whole ride and as Jerry put it “Ukrainians are good at suffering.”
We finally arrived in Comber.
The wee all bundled up and cushioned in the trailer.
Poor thing, she woke up hungry and was quite upset about it.
Precious wee after the long ride.
Once at the hotel, we got ready and set out for dinner. We were all so very hungry and at a moment of weakness almost settled for a mediocre dinner. But thankfully Deanes restaurant on Howard st. took us in without reservations and we enjoyed a glorious dinner. My dish, pictured below, was described as “Pan roast hake, summer vegetables, carrot purée, grenola”. Mmmmmmmm! Needless to say, we were all happy that even in our state of starvation we waited a bit longer for such a glorious dinner.




Day 2 in Belfast:
On Sunday we enjoyed the hotel breakfast buffet in the morning. Breakfast food is always good, you can’t get it wrong. We then attended service at an Anglican church we found, The Parish Church of St. George. The congregation made us feel very welcome and were very excited to see us there with a baby. Cella behaved beautifully, allowing us to enjoy the service. After church the lady behind us asked if Lydia was my daughter. Hm, that’d mean I had her at 14. This was not an isolated incident. Quite often while eating out, shopping, or touring someone would inevitably comment on how beautiful my “daughters” are. To which Lydia replied to, with genuine confusion, “No, she’s my sister”. Anyway, the religious history of Ireland is pretty interesting and worth reading about if you’re into that kind of thing.

The Titanic was built in Belfast, that is their big claim to fame. Belfast has always been a force to content with when it came to its industry though. Last year, 15 April 2012, was the 100 year anniversary of the tragic sinking of the Titanic. To commemorate this occasion the city of Belfast erected a Titanic museum. There was a lot of controversy about the museum. Many people felt it was celebrating a tragedy. It was built nonetheless, and it is magnificent. There is a room in the museum with a recreation of the grand staircase from the Titanic where they served afternoon tea on Sundays. Of course I signed us up for this afternoon tea event.  They gave you a list of teas to choose from and serves a try with lots of little yummy things. Some of the desserts served were exclusively served on the Titanic.
These 2 dishes were the ones exclusively served on the Titanic. Not sure what they mean by that.
The Grand Staircase
Cella woke up and decided she wanted to enjoy afternoon tea as well. The brightly colorful pattern you see on the carpet in this room is the same pattern used in the Titanic. After having tea we later had the chance to tour the museum and see the entire process of how the Titanic was built. The museum was very interactive and interesting. Walking out of there I felt I knew more about the Titanic than anyone I’d ever meet. Sunday night we had dinner at Zen, a Japanese and sushi restaurant close to the hotel. The service was great, the people were so nice (Cella was being unusually fussy during dinner and one of the waitresses offered to hold her so I could eat my dinner), and the food was delicious…while we were eating it (more on this dinner later).

Cella was wide awake before the museum tour, but fast asleep afterwards. So much cuteness!
Outside the Titanic Museum
The museum was so beautiful from a distance. My theory was that the 4 corners were designed to look like the bow of the boat and that their texture was designed to look like icebergs. Jerry didn’t think I was correct about that.
Daddy playing with the wee.
Day 3 in Belfast
Jerry went to work on Monday morning. Lydia and I got ready to do our sight-seeing for the day. After getting the wee ready we had breakfast at a nearby cafe. Lydia had a bagel with cream cheese while I went for the traditional Irish/English breakfast: toast with poached eggs, tomato, mushrooms, and baked beans. I did say nay to the beans….I mean come on, baked beans for breakfast? After breakfast we headed towards the Belfast Botanical Gardens. On the way we passed Queens University. The gardens were very beautiful and I was particularly impressed with the rose garden. As I was walking around enjoying the beautiful roses Cella woke up and was very hungry. We sat down on the grass and I started feeding her. About 5 minutes into her feeding she pooped quite loudly and heavily. It was a pretty bad situation. The whole trip I carried a spare outfit in my bag for her just in case something like this would happen, and when it finally did happen…no spare outfit in the bag! Well, we improvised. Thank God she was wearing a onsie underneath her outfit, it is the only thing that somewhat saved her outfit from being unwearable. The onsie could not be saved. It joined the filthy diaper and the majority of the baby-wipes from a brand new package in the trash.
Queens University
Lydia at the Botanical Gardens
The beautiful rose garden. This picture doesn’t do it justice.
Remember the 2013 Police and Fire Games I mentioned earlier? Well Monday’s event was the crit and it took place at the parliament building. We love to watch crit races so we made a point to attend this one. But by that time of the day we were all feeling a bit queasy. Jerry started feeling a sour stomach after lunch and I started feeling less than 100% as we drove in the cab to the race. Lydia wasn’t feeling too hot herself.  Lydia and I figured it was from the drive and that we’d feel better once the car stopped. This wasn’t the case. As the evening progressed we tried to enjoy the races going on in between vomiting and urgent bathroom runs. I vomited twice early on in this whole ordeal and started feeling a lot better than Jerry and Lydia. Jerry ended up vomiting a couple hours later and after a while of this we decided it was probably best that we return to the hotel for the evening. But we didn’t leave before we saw a fireman from the Chicago team win first place on one of the crits! We passed out fairly quickly once we were back at the hotel. Thinking back on what could have made us so sick we decided it must have been the sushi from the night before since it was the only thing all 3 of us had eaten.
This guy in the red was a fireman part of the Chicago team. He might have been the one that won first place in his age group.
The race track was a loop around this building, the Stormont Parliament Building. This building has an interesting story. During WWII this building served as a command center for the Royal Air Force. In an attempt to hide it from German bombers the building was painted in manure and tar. It worked. The building survived WWII unscathed, sort of. After 7 years of scrubbing (our cab driver told us it was 2 years and I’ve read everything between 4-7 years, either way, it was a long time) the building never regained its original white color.
Passed out early with hopes of feeling better in the morning. Thank God the wee wasn’t sick!

Day 4 in Belfast
We all felt better in the morning. Not quite 100%, but better. After Jerry left for work Lydia and I got ready and set out for Ulster Museum. Among many other great exhibits this museum had a lot of natural history of Northern Ireland. One of our favorites was the Reflections: Costume exhibit. The outfits these manikins were dressed in ranged from 1730 to 2013.

We did some shopping in Victoria Square after the Ulster Museum. I needed to pick up a few more onsies for the little one seeing as she had destroyed 3 of the 4 I brought by that point. Little did I know the trip would end with every single onsie being stained with bright yellow poop. Ah, the joys of motherhood! 😉

Lydia and I had an early dinner Tuesday night so we could pack up our belongings after dinner in preparation for our super early flight to London in the morning.

 
Wednesday morning we were up at 4:30, ready, and headed to the airport by 5 for our 6:30 flight to London. Our flight was wonderfully uneventful and we were in London in under an hour.

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This entry was posted on August 15, 2013 by in Travel.
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