Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

All The Stations (Belfast Edition)

Today we had a full day and no commitments and a Belfast Metro Area bus/rail pass. Aside from sleeping in an extra half-hour, we had nothing to do today, so we set out to cover at least the rest of the area our train pass happened. Thanks to a couple of friendly NI Railways train managers, we got more than our money's worth out our passes.

Walking to Great Victoria Street, we first popped into Boots where I purchased sunscreen. I didn't wear any yesterday and paid for it. I may be only about 1/16 Irish (from which I get my green eyes), but I'm definitely sun-sensitive. I hadn't brought any with me, not expecting to get bright, sunny days like yesterday and today.

Great Victoria Street

We boarded a train going south toward Newry. (Those of you who took the truncated Enterprise train from Dublin will recall this is where we transferred to buses. The maintenance blockade is over and the line open again.)

The rail pass zone to the south extends only as far as Derriaghy, but the train manager/conductor said there's nothing there and told us to ride on to Lisburn (and didn't charge us the extra three stops). We followed his advice and walked to the town centre.


We visited the Lisburn Linen Museum, which included also rotating exhibits about local participation in World War I.

Hat Man

The history of local linen production was interesting. Adjacent to it was a selection of hats, one of which I tried on before returning to my Jacaru "cowboy" hat.

After a brief turn around the town centre, we stopped for tea and scones in a cafe near the museum. Then Lisa had a look in one of the local shops and bought a few pieces of kitchenware that are hard for her to find in the USA, particularly if you're trying to avoid Chinese-made stuff.

Lisburn Station

Trains were running on a normal weekday schedule, not the Sunday schedule we expected to see on this Bank Holiday Monday.

Lisburn Station

With only a couple of minutes to spare, I realized that trains to Belfast are over the footbridge.

Lisburn Signal Box

With less than a minute to spare, I got a picture of the signal box at the south end of the platform just as the Belfast-bound train was coming in.

We could have stayed on the train from Lisburn, which reverses at Great Victoria Street and goes out the Bangor line, but that's where we went yesterday when we went to the Railway Museum. There was still one more line to ride. But it's an easy transfer to a train bound for Larne Harbour here.

Carrickfergus Station

Once again, the metro pass is supposedly only as good as Jordanstown, but the train manager allowed us to ride to Carrickfergus, four stops down the line. Inspired once again by Vicki Pipe and All The Stations, we were headed for a castle.


This arch in the old city walls leads to the seashore.

Carrickfergus Castle

And perched on a rock by the sea is Carrickfergus Castle. (Click the link for more information, and as with all of my photos, click on the photo to see more in the series.)

Carrickfergus Castle

Parts of the castle are off limits because they are redoing the roof, but we bought tickets to visit anyway.

Carrickfergus Castle

You can't see it in this shot, but at the top of this tower, they are redoing the wooden roof (which has been rebuilt many times in the past, and they're also carefully documenting what they're doing and trying to do it with heritage designs, using wooden fasteners instead of nails, etc.) at the top of this tower.

Carrickfergus Castle

This is one of the trusses they are using.

Carrickfergus Castle

There are great views from the castle walls.

Carrickfergus Castle

For some reason, they have a photo from a Worldcon Chairs Photo Session. Or maybe a WSFS Mark Protection Committee meeting.

Bear's Fishing Cannon

Kuma Bear thought that this would be a good gun for shooting fish in a barrel. Or maybe something bigger.

Carrickfergus Signal Box

After 90 minutes or so exploring the castle, we made our way back to the station, where I got a picture of the signal box before we boarded another train to Great Victoria Street. The train manager again was generous about letting us ride clear through rather than requiring us to purchase tickets from Carrickfergus to the zone boundary at Jordanstown.

Coming back in to Belfast, we got final looks at places we've been a lot the past few days.

Bye Bye Fishie

Kuma Bear waved to the Salmon of Knowledge, which he says must be the Golden Salmon's Boss Fish for Ireland.

Belfast Hilton

The sun angle being what it was, I had about one second to get a picture of the Belfast Hilton that wasn't blinded by the sun.

Layton Place

Lanyon Place (formerly Belfast Central) with Kuma Bear's ghostly image reflected in the window.

Passing Trains

Passing an outbound train on the curve into Great Victoria Street.

Great Victoria Street

And finally pulling in to Great Victoria Street for the last time, with the Holiday Inn visible in the distance.

Measurement Bear

Back at the hotel, Kuma Bear tested Lisa's new measuring cup on for size.

I popped out for drinks from Tesco Express and a burrito while Lisa took a bath. After I ate, she ordered a pizza from the hotel. When it was ready, I went down and collected it (saving a room service charge), and also redeemed a coupon the hotel had given me for my birthday (which is tomorrow) for a free beverage. (I'm a cheap coupon, as I don't drink alcohol.)

After dinner, Lisa and I did most of our packing except for what has to be done after we get up in the morning. The alarm is set for 4:30 AM for me. Our bus from Europa is at 6:45 AM for an 8:45 arrival at Dublin Airport, and our Saga class seats to Iceland await.

It's been a great week in Belfast. It would have been a nicer week in Dublin as well if I'd made the right decision about hotels. Knowing what we know now, had we paid for a room in the Gibson (using my IHG credit card) and stayed here in the Holiday Inn Belfast (again using the IHG card), the resulting points would probably have pushed me up to IHG Spire status for the rest of this year and all of next year, and I would have been in a better position to stay in Wellington on points if all went well. There's nothing that can be done about it now, but I can say that should travel bring me to Belfast again, the Holiday Inn Belfast City Centre will be my first choice to stay.

Meanwhile, maybe I'd better get some sleep.
Tags: "kuma bear", hotels, ireland, lisa, trains, travel

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