Thursday, April 28, 2011

Belfast, Ireland - Markets, Bars and a Cathedral

Congratulations to Prince William and the soon-to-be Princess Catherine on their marriage today! I wish them much happiness always.  I will be sipping my tea from the James Sadler commemorative mug which I bought on a recent trip to Belfast in Northern Ireland. To see my first posts about this beautiful city click HERE and HERE, or go to the label IRELAND on my blog's right sidebar and click it to see all my prior posts about my visits to the Emerald Isle.

 Belfast has many wonderful shopping venues and one I enjoyed visiting was the Queens Arcade.

There were shops lining both sides of the walkway inside the arcade.  I bought my William and Catherine commemorative mug from a wonderful store called  Little Heart.

Another wonderful shopping venue in Belfast was The King George's Market.  Located on May Street, it is the last surviving Victorian covered market in Belfast. There has been a Friday market on the St. George’s site since 1604. The present St. George’s Market, built 1890-1896, is one of Belfast’s oldest attractions. As well as being home to some of the finest fresh produce, with customers travelling near and far to sample the delights of Friday and Saturday markets, it has become one of the city's most popular places to visit.

My husband and I arrived in Belfast on a Sunday afternoon, and luckily the market was now open for business on Sundays. Our hotel room  was not yet available for check in and the hotel concierge suggested we visit the market while we waited.

There was a wonderful array of goods available for sale, and I wished I had more time to shop!

There were quite a few antique and flea market types stalls in the market and I did manage to chose one goody from this table that I could not resist!  Come back to my blog on Mother's Day on May 8th, and I'll show you the trinket that I bought as a souvenir.

One of the iconic pink and white double decker city buses on the very fashionable shopping area of Donegall Place in the City Centre of Belfast

When we arrived in Belfast we had an incredibly nice taxi driver who was very erudite and friendly and he told us quite a few things we should be sure to see in his city.  One of them was the Crown Bar.

The mosaic tile entrance to the bar.

The Crown Bar is called the most beautiful bar in the world and it is easy to see why once you step inside!

This is its description from it's website:
"Where else would you find a lovely burnished primrose yellow, red and gold ceiling, a floor laid in a myriad of mosaic tiles, brocaded walls ubiquitous highly patterned tiles, vigorous wood carvings throughout, ornate mirrors, wooden columns with Corinthian capitals and feathered motifs in gold?
Painted and etched glass is everywhere you look, vivid in amber and carmine painted shells, fairies, pineapples, fleurs-de-lis and clowns incidentally,the colourful decorative windows fronting the bar were originally intended to shield customers from inquisitive passers-by.

The long Balmoral red granite-topped 'Alter' bar is divided by columns and faced with gaily coloured tiles and a heated foot rest. Look out for the huge casks with their polished brass taps. Save for the inscriptions in English on the Mahogany cabinet behind the bar."


Some more interior shots of the Crown Bar.

Some of the beautiful tiles work on the outside walls of the bar.

While Crown Bar may be the most beautiful bar in Belfast, White's Tavern is the oldest!

Just look at this testimonial above its door! (double click on the photo to enlarge it)

It was not easy to find White's Tavern as it is located in a little alley street, one of many in Belfast.  I walked around for quite awhile until I finally stumbled upon it through the "Winecellar Entry."

This placard on the Winecellar Entry wall describes what the "entries", are, and also the White Tavern location.  I didn't go into the tavern, because my husband was working and I was by myself, but you can see photos of the interior on the tavern's website.  In any event I was determined to see it as I had also visited the oldest pub in Dublin on a prior trip to Ireland, which you can see HERE.

I actually had a good time walking all around Belfast taking photographs of the various pubs, taverns, bars, that I saw! The architecture of many was charming. (double click on the collage to see more detail)

 I also made a point to visit the Belfast Anglican Cathedral of Saint Anne

The Celtic Cross on the exterior of the Belfast Cathedral is the largest Celtic Cross in Ireland.  The three nautical figures called "The Belfast Buoys" are located in a park alongside the cathedral as a tribute to the long maritime history of Belfast.

It was too cloudy the day I visited the cathedral for the interesting large metal spire that passes through the roof of the cathedral to be seen well in my photos, so the photo above is from the cathedral's website. It is called the Spire of Hope.  It is lit at night for all to see.

The interior of the cathedral. Note the lighted section in the roof where the interior point of the Spire of Hope can be seen. The Spire enters the cathedral through this glass platform and standing in the choir visitors can look up the Spire to the heavens.

One of many beautiful stained glass windows inside Belfast Cathedral -- "Blessed are the Peacemakers." 

No visit to Belfast would be complete without learning about the past and present conflict in this city that has been referred to as "The Troubles."  Much reconciliation and healing has occurred in the decades since the worse of the troubles in Belfast, but much is still waiting to be accomplished.  My next blog post will show many photos of the main areas where the conflicts between the Catholics and Protestants in Belfast have taken place and what the current situation is now.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Quick Giveaway!

Bertolli Foods will be celebrating the art of pairing fine wines with regional Italian foods; an art Bertolli always keeps in mind when creating and preparing their meals.  To bring this authentic experience to life, they are creating a virtual interactive live video wine tasting and pairing on Wednesday, May 4 at 7 pm - 7:30 CST on their facebook page.  The wine tasting and pairing will be led by Sommelier and vino Italiano expert Stacie Hunt, certified by the Association of Italian Sommeliers. During the event, everyone will be able to comment and ask questions.

As a friend of Bertolli, they will provide me with a wine tasting kit so I can follow along with Stacie as she guides me through the tasting process, allowing me to truly define the variety of flavors found in Italian wines and how they complement an array of delectable Italian meals. She will also be giving the full story of Italian wines and even a few great tips for using them in cooking - the complete ambiente!

Bertolli has also offered to send one of my readers a wine tasting kit so you can follow along with me on their virtual celebration!

The Wine Kit will include:

  • A Stainless Steel Wine Aerator
  • A Rebate for a Bottle of Cavit Italian Wine
  • A Wine Bottle Opener and Foil Cutter
  • A Tasting certificate for your favorite Bertolli Frozen Meal
  • A Coupon for a free Bertolli Sauce
Since this event will take place next week on May 4th. I would like to choose a winner by Friday, April 29, so that Bertolli can get your Wine Tasting Kit out to you in time to follow along with the wine tasting celebration on the Bertolli facebook page

To win, you will have to agree to send me your name and address, have a facebook account, and "Like" Bertolli's facebook page so you can follow along with the wine tasting event in order for me to send it along to Bertolli who will mail out the prize. Please leave a comment on this post if you qualify.  I will choose the winner on Friday morning.

In any event you will have an opportunity to follow the virtual wine tasting event and you will find lots of interesting information and activities on Bertolli's facebook page, so its a winning combination even if you don't win the wine tasting kit

That's it!  Good luck!

CONTEST CLOSED!  Thanks to all who entered!

The winner is comment # 5  Black Eyed Susan's Kitchen!  Congratulations Susan!  Please send your name and address to me and I will forward it to Bertolli

In any event everyone can follow the Virtual Wine Tasting and Pairing event on Wednesday, May 4 from 7:00 - 7:30 pm CST. Participating is easy, at the time of the event visit, click on the “Check-in and Chat” button to login with your Twitter account and tweet using #Bertolli

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Monday, April 25, 2011

My Grandsons

When we flew home from Ireland last week we flew out to Colorado the very same day. We had lots of jet lag, but also lots of excitement about meeting our precious new grandson!  He was such a good baby and we could see him growing each day right before our eyes,

He got lots of snuggles, hugs and kisses from his Nonna and Nonno, and did a lot of sleeping, as newborn babies like to do.  Meanwhile, we had lots of fun with our older grandson, and the very first thing we did was go to see a Sesame Street Live show!

Our little guy was mesmerized by seeing his favorite characters bigger than life sized!

He kept us busy all week long. We visited the Easter bunny at a local mall, went to playgrounds and parks, tagged along to music class, took walks to look for flowers, read lots of story books and played with his train sets and construction vehicles, dyed Easter eggs, and generally had lots of fun together!
Needless to say now that we are back home in New York we will miss our little grandsons so very much.  It is always hard to have to leave them, but we hope to see them again very soon and that thought makes me happy!

I will be continuing with a few more posts about our trip to Northern Ireland, very soon.   I hope you will join me again then!

Linking with Mary at The Little Red House for "Mosaic Monday"

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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Happy Easter!

"The Resurrection" stained glass in Green-Wood Cemetery Chapel

Christ is Risen! He is truly Risen!

Wishing everyone a very blessed and happy Easter!

Wild bunny in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden

I have much to be thankful for and celebrate this holiday, as I am spending a long awaited time with my grandsons and enjoying every precious moment. The new baby is so good and we can see him growing right before our eyes! It has been so wonderful to cuddle him in our arms, give him a thousand kisses upon his brow and whisper all our hopes and dreams for him in his ears.  Our two and a half year old grandson has us laughing, singing, reading, playing, cuddling and loving him. His energy and innocence is a wonderful rejuvenation for our spirits.  It is so endearing to hear him call us Nonna and Nonno and tell us he loves us!

"Joy" -stained glass window Saint Ann's Cathedral, Belfast, Ireland.

We have also received some very joyful news when we were in Ireland last week, news that made us very happy and also brought tears to our eyes, but I'll be saving that for a future be announced very soon!
Spring lambs, County Antrim, Ireland

In this season of Joy and Rebirth I am hoping that all who celebrate will all have a blessed Easter with your families and a Spring that brings more beauty to cherish every day.

Adding this post (a little late, sorry!) to Beverly's "Pink Saturday" events on her blog "How Sweet The Sound"  Happy Easter, Beverly and to all the Pink Saturday participants..

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Beautiful Belfast

Belfast is the capital of Northern Ireland and a city that grew during the Industrial Revolution with flourishing linen, rope-making, and shipbuilding industries. Most heavy industry has been replaced by services, technology, and tourism in this modern day.  I took this photo of the city from my hotel window as I loved the green rolling hills in the background that surround the city.

Belfast was the largest and most productive shipyard in the world at one time and the city's main shipbuilders, Harland and Wolff built the ill-fated RMS Titanic.  Although shipbuilding has been in a steady decline the twin Harland and Wolff yellow shipbuilding gantry cranes situated at Queen's Island, in Belfast, are nicknamed "Samson and Goliath," and still dominate the skyline as landmark structures of the city.

Memories of the Titanic are a large part of the city. This beautiful memorial was painted on the side of a building.

Since April 14, 2012, will be the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, the city is gearing up with a Titanic Quarter and a Titanic Museum being constructed located at the head of the Titanic’s original slipway. It will be the heart of a new revitalized area in East Belfast. The museum will tell the story of the people of Belfast as well as the story of the infamous ship.

Along with its industrial side, Belfast has much Victorian elegance to see, as well as modern buildings and conveniences. Here are a few landmarks I found interesting:

The Albert Memorial Clock was erected in 1865 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s consort, Prince Albert is built on land reclaimed from the River Lagan. The clock leans slightly and has been called Belfast's "leaning tower of Pisa."

Belfast City Hall is the civic building of the Belfast City Council. Plans for the City Hall began in 1888 when Belfast was awarded city status by Queen Victoria.

The Titanic Memorial stands on the side of city hall.

The shopping area of Donegall Place is now home to 8 copper lighting masts. These feature lighting masts have been designed to create a significant impact on the street while taking in to account the historic setting. They have been influenced by Belfast’s industrial heritage, the linen industry, and maritime traditions.

The Grand Opera House of Belfast was built in 1895 and has delivered an unrivaled program of entertainment, playing host to some of the greatest names in theatre and music. It became the first building in Belfast to be listed as being of historical and architectural importance and was acquired by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland in 1976.

Saint George's Market is one of Belfast’s oldest attractions. It was built between 1890 and 1896 and is one of the best markets in the UK and Ireland

Victoria Square shopping mall is one of many wonderful shopping venues within Belfast. 

It has a breathtaking urban design with four floors and a central communications area to take shoppers to different levels including a viewing gallery at the top from which to view the city.

Looking up at the Victoria Square viewing platform inside the dome.

Stormont Estate and Parliament building is the seat of the Northern Ireland Assembly and the Northern Ireland Executive.

‘The Searcher’, a statue sculpted by local artist Ross Wilson, was commissioned to mark the centenary of the birth of CS Lewis, author of "The Chronicles of Narnia." It stands outside Holywood Arches library, near where Lewis grew up. It shows Professor Digory Kirke, hero of ‘The Magician’s Nephew’, entering the magical wardrobe into Narnia.

A close-up of the sculpture.

Belfast is a very walkable city and while I took the "hop on hop off bus" to see some of the sights much of it I saw by foot.  I'll show you more interesting sights in my next few posts...the historical pubs, some of the inside of city hall, a library that dates back to 1788, and the remaining traces of the "Troubles" that have unfortunately plagued the city.

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