Friday, 9 December 2011
Christmas 2011 - Northern Ireland
I kept a diary of my trip to Belfast to see Mum and Dad. Here's my notes.
Day 1 - Arrival
The flight from Luton was easy and on time.
I caught the Translink 300 shuttle bus from Belfast international airport, arriving at a frigid Great Victoria street station about 40 minutes later.
It was around 5pm now and Belfast was looking brill. They'd done a great job with Royal Avenue, with new street furniture, street art, extended shop frontages and trees decorated to the nines in Christmas glitterati, all lined up majestically before a golden-lit City Hall.
A sense of pride tingled inside as my home city turned on the style, with the Waterfront and Odyssey Arena areas looking just as impressive.
Dad was looking lost as I met him in the station and we headed swiftly for Morrisons pub to grab a winter-warming pint, me foolishly walking gloveless to the watering hole. It was freezing.
Morrisons turned up few surprises.
The dimensions hadn't changed a bit since I'd last been there. Sure, the seating layout was different and they'd got rid of the Crown-esque booths (note to Belfast City Council - can you regulate your pubs properly please! Stop landlords removing the pub booths that give our traditional pubs their character), but you could now pull your own pint at your table! (pictured, right)
I was surprised to see so many continental European beers on tap. Only Harp, Guinness and Smithwicks were on offer - no Bass, Belfast Ale, Caffreys or other such like tipples to greet Irish economic migrants like myself.
After a swift dinner at home, we went to the Errigle Inn for the pub quiz. Under the name 'Saintwick', we lasted only five rounds as it didn't start till 10.30pm and we were knackered.
Headed home. Sang Dad happy birthday at around 12.10am (it was now 6 December) and hit the sack.