lens-artists challenge #65 – pick a place (belfast)

Tina, haven’t made it easy for me this week … to pick one special place. Not that I don’t have images and stories to tell … the hard thing is to pick one place.

My heart belongs to many places: Biarritz … that stool my heart in 1976, in 2001 Chicago embraced me, Tbilisi … took a pice in 2018, Porto … since 2017 … but I think I will choose my home town for 10 years, 1999-2009 – Belfast.

Belfast, the city with a very big heart …  a sad history and that today has a big worry … for what is going to happen with and after the Brexit.


It’s the people that make Belfast so special … when my mum visited me she said to one of the taxi drivers; you are so nice people here in Belfast .. why is it so hard to be nice to each other????

I never lived in Belfast when things were really bad, there is problems like bomb threats that locked down the whole city, there were shootings and killings .. but it was less and less. Bill Clinton visited Belfast many times and he really worked hard for the peace process and in the end, it came,  in May 2007.

When the population of Belfast town began to grow in the 17th century, its economy was built on commerce. It provided a market for the surrounding countryside and the natural inlet of Belfast Lough gave the city its own port. The port supplied an avenue for trade with Great Britain and later Europe and North America. In the mid-17th century, Belfast exported beef, butter, hides, tallow, and corn and it imported coal, cloth, wine, brandy, paper, timber, and tobacco. Belfast was then a very wealthy part of the United Kingdom.

In 1920–22, Belfast became the capital of the new entity of Northern Ireland as the island of Ireland was partitioned. The accompanying conflict (the Irish War of Independence) cost up to 500 lives in Belfast, the bloodiest sectarian strife in the city until the Troubles of the late 1960s onwards.

Since the peace has Belfast gone from strength to strength and has been the top destination for both National Geographic in 2011 and so late as 2018 is was The Lonely Planets top destination – Alaska was number 2.  This comes on the back of Trip Advisor saying Belfast is the best value UK city break and the Lonely Planet saying you had better get here before the rest of the world comes.

When I moved to Belfast the city center was totally dead after all the shops had closed, not a soul around … in less then 4 years the scene had totally changed – new restaurants, cafes, and clubs, luxury hotels were popping up more or less every month and still do. Restaurants were voted to the best in the UK and Ireland, the best bartenders were in Belfast … and suddenly Belfast was on the world map for the right reasons. A fantastic transformation.

When I moved there Hilton had already opened there their hotel in Belfast. I think that was the first international company that was the future in Belfast and Northern Ireland.

Today the notorious “black taxis” has become a lot more colorful and Belfast has become a Metropol. I always give advice to people that are planning to visit Dublin … stay in Belfast and do a day trip to Dublin. You get so much for your money … and you’re a lot more relaxed because the Irish mentality and spirit you find all over Ireland and even more so in Belfast.

Every year I go back and visit what I left behind … and I so soon I step off the Dublin – Belfast Airport express bus … feeling good and feeling at home returns to me.

The National Geographic Traveller called the city a “treasure” with an “incredible atmosphere” and I totally agree.

“I really love it in Belfast. I always stay in the most bombed hotel
in the world, the Europa!”
Gareth Gates
(The Europa hotel have been bombed 8 times and never closed one day for business)

Lens-Artists Challenge #65 – Pick a Place

30 thoughts on “lens-artists challenge #65 – pick a place (belfast)

  1. A lovely virtual visit Viveka. I was there long ago while the war was still an issue. I remember hearing gunfire at night and being frightened by it. The city was very industrial then and looks so much better now! Happy to see it’s revitalization

    • Wow, even if I lived there for 10 years I never heard any gunfire … so that must be quite a while ago. You wouldn’t recognize Belfast today. It has always been very industrial, but also that is gone today – the shipbuilding yard is gone .. has become the Titanic Quarters and film studios. Film making is a big industry now in Belfast. Belfast is a truely FAB city today.

    • Amy, thank you so much … yes, I wish everybody that has the old picture of Belfast and Northern Ireland will revisit and see for themselves what a fantastic place it has become … and I hope that with UK leaving EU will not change that. It’s only down to the Northern Irish people to not let it happen again.

  2. This is a very interesting and enjoyable post. My husband worked for the CBC and was doing a documentary in Belfast during the worst to the “Troubles” . He told me the crew was literally dodging bullets in some of the places they were filming. I am concerned about the future with Brexit and Boris talking of a “hard Brexit”. I hope that will not happen.

    • Anne, thank you so much for the visit and the interesting comment about your husbands work in Belfast. I can understand that Belfast was both rought and tough during the really bad times. I never had to experience that .. even if there were tensions and there still are, because there are still some people that don’t agree with the peace and probably never will. I wish your husband could go back and do a documentary about todays’ Belfast and Northern Ireland. “A hard Brexit” will mean that the problems will return to Northern Ireland, maybe not in the scale as it was … but there will be problems. I also hope it will not happen .. because I love Belfast and Northern Ireland … and what it has become.

  3. I was disappointed when we toured Ireland and Scotland we didn’t get to see Belfast. It still doesn’t earn a spot on many tours I’ve looked at. There’s sadly still such a strong feeling of it not being safe to visit. I think many tour groups don’t want the added risk so it’s not included in the stops. Before we changed what tour we were taking we had planned to do a day trip to Belfast, perhaps with a private guide and our travel agent advised against it. Then when we switched tours (to a longer time, and hit a few different spots), we weren’t even able to do a day side trip on our own. I would like to do more in Northern Ireland. We basically did a night drove through a few spots, and hit the ferry for Scotland.

    • Sandy, Belfast is very safe to visit … cruise liners are docking the whole Spring and Summer … a load of nonsense, whoever says otherwise. But if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the problems can raise again and that would be terrible.
      I lived in Belfast between 1999-2009, I return every year to visit those I left behind when I returned to Sweden … and it has never been unsafe. I had Swedish friends that visit Belfast time after time while I lived there and they never felt unsafe and they all love Belfast. I’m so sorry you missed out because of your travel agent. Really sorry. You have to give it another chance.

    • John, wow what a story!!!! When were you staying at Europa??? The family has just opened a 5* only a street away from Europa, a stunning hotel … the best view in town. Hopefully, that will never be bombed.

    • Hi, there Handsome … nice to get a visit from you. Oscar is doing a lot better than me for the moment … but hopefully, I will be back in business soon. Just out from the hospital today, it has been a rough couple of months for me … but I hope it will change now. Lovely to see you and … my warmest regards to your “Dancing Queen” *smile

      • Frank, no my sorry ass is still going strong … but I had problems with my bladder (blood) since late May and new problems pops up all the time, but the good thing is that that they have … found any cancer. They said on the hospital that there is nothing wrong with my mouth and brain … the rest?????!!!! So there is still life left in me. Sense of humor is a MUST when you’re sick. You have to be healthy to be sick for sure. *smile

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