Thursday, June 22, 2006
Surprisingly, for a Guardian piece, I only disagree with 25% of what was written. I always enjoy Tate Modern, especially if approached over the Thames via the Millennium Bridge, the London Eye and Edinburgh Castle. Do readers have any views on the list?
What about a more parochial (s)hit list of dodgy tourist venues? I think Newcastle is vile, the Giants' Causeway portacabin a disgrace and the Belfast visited by the Black Taxi tours lumpen. Have I missed anything?
Can I nominate Belfast City centre, please?
I was taking some visitors on a walking tour last Saturday, stretching from the Odyssey to the Ulster Hall and then back down Royal Avenue past St. Anne's and ending up for a meal a the Northern Whig (where we were meeting up with my partner and the assorted kids)
I had scheduled 5pm as a good time for a mid-walk cup of tea. Well, try getting a cup of tea/coffee in the city centre after 5pm. 7 separate places were "just closing".
So, tired and thirsty we reached the Northern Whig, only to be told that they didn't serve children after 6pm. On being asked why---and I have had lunch in there with the kids on many occasions---we were told it was "just management policy."
I have been in a fair few cities across the UK, as well as across Europe and the US and never had problems with early evening refreshments or meals with the kids.
We ended up going to Blinkers---across from the Northern Whig---and actually had some lovely Ulster Frys, milkshakes and apple crumbles. Plain and simple it may have been, but the staff were fast and pleasant.
This weekend we took the kids to see the maritime event and the fireworks. The continental market closed early, the boat tours stopped at 5pm and the fireworks lasted about 6 minutes. What the hell is wrong with Belfast? Why is every event so hand-me-down and piss-poor. Last September we went to the Food Fair in Botanic Gardens. It was rubbish. Then we took the kids around Hallow'een to see the "fairy event" in the same place. They were bored rigid.
This October I'm taking them to see the circus up at Stormont!
A very grumpy Alex
Belfast is very, very far behind Glasgow, Manchester, Leeds or even Cardiff when it comes to showcasing itself. I can only hope the massive improvements seen in Cardiff and Manchester which were driven by urban redevelopment can be replicated in Belfast with the Titanic Quarter proposals.
However, on a positive note I would recommend the North Coast from Downhill to Bushmills and the Hillsborough Oyster Festival.