Thursday, June 23–Belfast, Northern Ireland

Hop on, hop off bus tour of Belfast; Titanic Centre; Botanic gardens at Queen's University; dinner back at the hotel

Ibis Belfast City Centre

Black VW Passat sedan



My plan for today was to take one of the hop-on, hop-off bus tours of Belfast and stop off a couple of places including the Titanic Belfast visitors center. The guy at the reception desk downstairs who sold me the ticket said they would send someone to pick me up here at the hotel, and they did, but I could and should have walked there instead. After the shuttle driver went around on a couple of one-way streets and let me off where I could catch the 10:30 tour I was only a few blocks up the street from my hotel.

The bus I was on was an enclosed double-decker; in fact, I didn't see an open-topped bus while I've been here although I did see a sign for them. My new camera, however, seems to have done a pretty good job taking pictures through the windows on the bus.

As I usually do, I rode all the way around on a complete circuit first, getting off at the stop for the Titanic center the second time around. I thought this was another excellent exhibition, using all kinds of multi-media presentations to tell the story of the Titanic's construction, sinking, and finding, including a short ride that goes through a simulation of the different work areas on the huge job site.

Afterwards I stopped for a bit of lunch at the smaller of the two on-site restaurants, and probably coincidentally that's where I began having some mild stomach problems that are still bothering me now at almost 11 PM. Before I left the center I had to go back upstairs to use the restroom again before I left. I thought I felt well enough to ride the tour around and get off at the botanic gardens over at Queen's University, which I didn't see as much of as I would have liked because my stomach was bothering me again and I had to find the nearest bathroom only to have to use a toilet in a bathroom without any toilet paper.

By this point I just wanted to get back to my hotel, preferably faster than it would take to ride the tour the rest of the way around. I kept trying to flag a cab and although I saw a couple every minute go by I couldn't get one to stop–perhaps I was in an area where they couldn't. I walked down to the pub on the corner past the gardens but again didn't see anywhere I could hail a cab and was walking back up to where the tour bus had let me off when I saw the next one coming past and almost missed them but they saw me waving my cane at them and stopped.

I was able to ride the tour the rest of the way around to the stop up the street from my hotel, to my hotel, up to my room, and into my own bathroom just before I really needed to again. I had intended to take some of my bags across the street and put them in my car in the pay lot but still have been feeling a bit unwell all evening. I did eventually feel well enough long enough to have a decent dinner in the hotel's restaurant on the ground floor.

The plan tomorrow morning is to take a couple of trips between my room and my car on the 4th floor of the pay lot across the street before going back inside the hotel to have breakfast and to turn my keys in at the reception desk. I'm spending the next two nights at the Maldron Hotel in Derry, which despite the name change from the Tower Hotel is the only place where I stayed on the CIE tour Mom sent me on ten years ago where I could make a reservation for when I wanted to.

In between here and Derry I plan on stopping at the Carrick-a-Rede suspension rope bridge (an hour and 20 minutes from here to there) and the Giant's Causeway (20 minutes) in the morning before being in the lovely town of Bushmills (10 minutes) for a late lunch. I think I'll probably skip the distillery tour but try and wander around and see more of the town than I could on the CIE tour. My hotel in Derry is an hour away from Bushmills,.

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