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!”
(The Europa hotel have been bombed 8 times and never closed one day for business)