Mini adventure to Belfast and Dublin...

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caravanman

Engineer
Joined
Mar 22, 2004
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4,836
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Nottingham, England.
Although I have enjoyed a hotel holiday in Turkey, since my mini stroke, I am still a bit "off balance" in mind and body, so I wanted to test my travel stamina with a independent solo trip to Belfast and then on to Dublin.
June 5th flight from East Midlands (Nottingham) airport to Belfast on Aer Lingus. Very surprised to find it was not a jet aircraft, but a propeller one! A modern aircraft, ATR72-600, but it has been 40 years since my last flight on anything similar, and that was in Burma as it was called, back in the day.
This flight was around an hour, quite a strange thing for me to be on a plane from one UK airport to another UK airport, having flown across the sea to Northern Ireland!
No passport or customs, so straight out to the waiting bus, and into Belfast city itself.
I arrived at the central bus station, and after a short walk, I checked in at my hostel. A quick cup of tea, and I set off for a look around. Sadly, the city is quite run down in parts, many empty buildings, etc. In contrast to the neglect, the buildings themselves must have been very attractive, lots of interesting architectural features still to be seen.

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The University was quite stunning, and both churches and secular buildings had interesting spires and towers.

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The hostel was fine, met some folk from America and France, and relaxed with a book before bedtime. Astonished to find that I slept very well, despite sharing a room with 3 strangers!
Next morning after breakfast I checked out and wandered up to the station for my train south to Dublin. Belfast still seems a divided city, I noticed several large murals painted on the gable ends of buildings. I thought I would just keep walking and not try to take any photos... ;)
I was a bit early for my train, so had a little stroll near the River Lagan close by the Lanyon Place station.

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I had booked my ticket online, but needed to obtain a physical ticket at the station, to board the train. We had to wait in line to board, a little like the Amtrak experience. I guess there are security issues about this particular train, but once again, no passport checks at all.
The Enterprise is the name of this cross border train, and it is operated by fairly modern train sets. I don't know the maximum speed of the units, but it seemed to whizz along fairly well, track was well maintained.

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The trip to Dublin takes about 2.5 hours, and the train was fairly busy. Mainly tourists at the outset, but more local folk boarded as we progressed south.
Arrived to nice weather in Dublin, Connolly station.

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A short walk down to O'Connell Street, one of the main streets, and site of the "Dublin Portal", a two way webcam/screen that allows folk to wave to another screen situated in New York. Quite a crowd there, holding up placards and waving, but Mr. Joyce, top left in the photo, seems unimpressed! ;)

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Following a fairly aimless wander around the area, a trip to see the River Liffey, and soon enough it was time to head out to the airport, catching the airport bus on O'Connell street itself.
A lot of Ryanair flights departing from this terminal! My flight back to East Midlands was fine, about 45 minutes, and with a tail wind we arrived early, with just enough time for me to catch my bus home with 3 minutes to spare!

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Thanks for reading. Next week I have a short Eurostar jaunt to Paris booked, so a report on that trip will soon follow.
 
Make sure you get to St Pancras in plenty of time, sometimes it can be a bear pit. BTW, how long are you in Paris for?
There was a Eurostar flash sale a week or two back, so I imagine it might be busy with bargains like that. I am just there for two nights, for the journey, as much as the destination. (But I expect I will partake of a croissant or two while there...) ;)
 
Thanks for your report. We had planned a trip starting in Dublin going to Belfast then across to Scotland but it has been postponed due to our move.

I understand that the Enterprise now leaves from the rebuilt Great Victoria Street station now called Grand Central IIRC.
 
Thanks for your report. We had planned a trip starting in Dublin going to Belfast then across to Scotland but it has been postponed due to our move.

I understand that the Enterprise now leaves from the rebuilt Great Victoria Street station now called Grand Central IIRC.
I spoke to one guy at the hostel, actually an American in Belfast on a dentist course, and he mentioned that the Victoria Street station was currently closed, so he was looking for new accommodation to make his commute easier. I guess the plan may be to run the Enterprise service from there in the future, but certainly it departed from Lanyon Place last week. Stormont, the devolved government of Northern Ireland has not been functioning for some time, so maybe funding for major projects has faltered?
 
I spoke to one guy at the hostel, actually an American in Belfast on a dentist course, and he mentioned that the Victoria Street station was currently closed, so he was looking for new accommodation to make his commute easier. I guess the plan may be to run the Enterprise service from there in the future, but certainly it departed from Lanyon Place last week. Stormont, the devolved government of Northern Ireland has not been functioning for some time, so maybe funding for major projects has faltered?
I understand that Victoria is not going to reopen but they are building a larger station called Belfast Grand Central on an adjacent site (actually the long abandoned Belfast rail freight yard) that will take over its function in conjunction with a revival and boosting of passenger rail services across Northern Ireland, and also be an interchange hub with bus and coach services. The new station will have 8 platforms (replacing Victoria's 4) in line with plans to strengthen the role of rail in Northern Ireland.

This vision also involves the reopening of the Lisburn to Antrim line (on which passenger services were discontinued in 2003, but which has been maintained as a diversionary route) as well as a proposed rail link to Belfast airport. The Enterprise service to Dublin is also to be improved with additional services and upgrades to tracks on both sides of the border that will permit faster journeys. In the longer term there are also plans to rebuild the long abandoned Portadown to Armagh line. There are also proposals to extend the Derry / Londonderry line across the border into Donegal, providing a second cross-border rail line. There is also to be some electrification here and there.

All this is welcome investment after a long period during which rail was not considered a priority and allowed to deteriorate and shrink its network. These investments are to be understood within the broader picture of Northern Ireland feeling more buoyant and optimistic about its potential and future, moving away from destructive internal strife and sectarianism and and looking towards stronger economic growth and development on the basis of peace and collaboration.

But rolling back to the present day, the Victoria station has indeed been closed and the Grand Central station is still under construction, so services are being diverted to other Belfast stations. I would advise to check the individual schedules for the exact dates of travel as details may change.
 
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There was a Eurostar flash sale a week or two back, so I imagine it might be busy with bargains like that. I am just there for two nights, for the journey, as much as the destination. (But I expect I will partake of a croissant or two while there...) ;)
Plus a cup ot tea or two no doubt!😉
 
I spoke to one guy at the hostel, actually an American in Belfast on a dentist course, and he mentioned that the Victoria Street station was currently closed, so he was looking for new accommodation to make his commute easier. I guess the plan may be to run the Enterprise service from there in the future, but certainly it departed from Lanyon Place last week. Stormont, the devolved government of Northern Ireland has not been functioning for some time, so maybe funding for major projects has faltered?
Looks like I misread something on one of the UK forums I follow that gave me the impression this change had already happened. It looks like they closed GVS but the new Grand Central isn't opening until later this year. I guess Enterprise will continue to use Lanyon Place for now. Not sure where the local NI services are terminating in the meantime.
 
Looks like I misread something on one of the UK forums I follow that gave me the impression this change had already happened. It looks like they closed GVS but the new Grand Central isn't opening until later this year. I guess Enterprise will continue to use Lanyon Place for now. Not sure where the local NI services are terminating in the meantime.
Upon further review it looks like the Enterprise from 3 July will terminate at Newry, until the new station opens. Not clear how one gets to Belfast, I assume there will be some kind of rail replacement bus?
 
Many thanks for your report. I watch a bit of vlogger Steve Marsh's youtube output and although most if his stuff is Scottish travel, he's been across to Ireland and the Six Counties a few times. Belfast does seem to have a load of grand Victoria-era public buildings, but it's such a shame that the devolved government is entangled in sectarianism.

Have fun in France as the Euros start on the other side of the border :)
 
Many thanks for your report. I watch a bit of vlogger Steve Marsh's youtube output and although most if his stuff is Scottish travel, he's been across to Ireland and the Six Counties a few times. Belfast does seem to have a load of grand Victoria-era public buildings, but it's such a shame that the devolved government is entangled in sectarianism.

Have fun in France as the Euros start on the other side of the border :)
Vlogger Johnny Hoover has also done a number of Irish trips including Dublin to Cork and Dublin - Galway. I think he may also have done the Enterprise, not sure
 
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