After my stay in Dublin, I made my way northward out of Ireland and back into the UK to Belfast in Northern Ireland. I checked out St George Market, the largest local craft, art and food market in the UK and walked through the Gaeltacht Quarter. I took in some live traditional Irish music and folk dancing and enjoyed real Irish stew. Aside from its troubled past, Belfast is home to the oldest licensed distillery in the world (Bushmills whiskey), and has a “Titanic Quarter” where the original Titanic was built and launched. I stayed at the incredible FitzWilliam hotel, which was on the cover of Conde Naste in 2010 and is located right in the city center. The hotel had thought of everything for any traveler and aside from robes, slippers and a well-stocked mini-bar, the room was equipped with a disposal camera and umbrella for my use. While in the lounge with copper-clad lighting, I took a glimpse at their “bible” of drinks which included more than 700 spirits and liquors. After a fry up for breakfast which included sausages, bacon, beans, and soda & potato breads, I caught one of the iconic, and comfortable black taxis and made my way to the Belfast airport for the short flight to the Isle of Man.
The IOM is a tiny country of less than 100,000 citizens with a strong Celtic and Viking heritage. The IOM is also the home of the Bee Gees and the world famous TT motorcycle races. I knew I was in a small place when mine was one of only three bags on the airport luggage carousel. I made my way to the capital borough of Douglas and noted the rugged coastline, short stone walls dotting the countryside, and medieval castles standing together with modern structures. I hung out in the IOM for a few days, got a great haircut and started my Halloween there before flying back to Belfast.
Here is a map of this part of my journey, for a full size view, click on the expand icon in the lower right hand corner.