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Posted by on Dec 19, 2013 in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Podcast | 0 comments

An American in Belfast: The Amateur Traveler Talks About Titanic, Murals, Meals, and More

maryjobelfast

Belfast and Northern Ireland are a bit of a mystery to many North Americans. Questions arise about its safety, its politics, and its “worthiness” as a tourist destination. Many of those uncertainties can be put the rest after hearing Chris Christensen talk to Mary Jo Manzanares about her travels in and around Belfast on the Amateur Traveler Podcast.

Mary Jo offers a wonderful perspective on both things to see and do on a visit as well as how to learn more about the history of “The Troubles” in Belfast.

Pop Over and Have a Listen

Some of my favorite lines from the interview include:

The Titanic Belfast Experience (at minute 3:40)

“It’s got both the components of the flashy multimedia — this-is-the-great-effect-era — as well as some history that really makes you stop and think that what we may think of from only seeing the movie Titanic really was such a key part of Belfast and Ireland and the lives of people in that era.” — Mary Jo Manzanares

 The Cathedral Quarter (at minute 6:59)

“One of the areas that’s been an up and coming kind of part of the city is called the Cathedral Quarter… they’ve revitalized it and now in addition to the cathedral which as you would expect is quite beautiful, it’s sort of an area now where there are shops and boutiques if you’re into that kind of thing, pubs… as well as some nice fine dining restaurants and some other hotels. So it’s a great area to walk around, pop into some place, listen to some music, just sort of enjoy the area.” — Mary Jo Manzanares

The Political Murals (at minute 10:02)

“I wanted to learn more about the political background and history. There are several ways to see the murals…. My recommendation would be to do the Black Taxi Tour… they’re private… they’re customized… It was an amazing tour.”

“Our driver Billy, sometimes I had to wonder if he was just giving me a little Irish history on the light side versus the humorous side and how much of it was actual history, but he did a marvelous job of weaving in what I like to think of Irish mythology, if you will or creative history, with what really happened, and it’s easy to see why he’s a very popular and often requested driver.” — Mary Jo Manzanares

Belfast City Hall (at minute 15:24)

“It’s got the beautiful domes, the marble floors, great staircases, all the things that make you go “ooh” and “aah” about an older building. They also have a great little mini-museum that is located just off the cafeteria. I’ll be honest, I didn’t now a lot about famous people from Belfast or what Belfast was really known for. And we spent probably almost an hour in this little room and it basically talked about the people of Belfast and their place in history.” — Mary Jo Manzanares

What Surprised You About Belfast? (at minute 16:30)

“I think what surprised me is that while I knew it was safe, it was okay to go there, and The Troubles were over and the Peace Agreement was signed, I don’t think I truly appreciated the underlying socioeconomic political strife that still exists. And maybe that’s naive on my part… but I guess I thought that Good Friday Peace Agreement put an end and everyone lived happily ever after… there’s still some struggles that they’re facing.” — Mary Jo Manzanares

Belfast Castle (at minute 18:30)

“Belfast Castle has three trails that you can hike depending on how ambitious you are or how much time you have… My recommendation would be to do the Estate Tour. It’s a lovely tour; you get some beautiful views of the city and the surrounding area.” — Mary Jo Manzanares

Only in Belfast (at minute 21:31)

“Belfast… where you’re offered a beer or Irish whiskey, and only after declining are you offered a cup of tea.” — Mary Jo Manzanares

Getting from Dublin to Belfast (22:00)

It is an easy trip from Dublin. So if you plan on visiting Dublin, it is a couple of hours by train or bus, and it’s well worth carving out a few days to make that trip.” — Mary Jo Manzanares

On Irish Whiskey (22:40)

“I would have said that I didn’t like whiskey until I tried whiskey recently in Dublin, and I discovered that I don’t like American whiskey. Irish whiskey is much more smooth.” — Chris Christensen

Pop Over and Have a Listen

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