My Heart Really DID Go On in Belfast

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Wait! Did you read part one yet? No? Go read it now!

Next Stop: Belfast

Titanic Belfast

Modeled to resemble the hull of the great ship, the Titanic Belfast is an architectural wonder her own self. Plus this one’s on dry land so what could go wrong?

A family reunion was propelling the return to our ancestral homeland, but what was really burning a hole in my travel guide was a visit to the new, huge, gleaming Titanic Belfast museum. OF COURSE I will make Seamus walk across the hallowed space where Harland & Wolff’s shipyard once stood, where over three thousand men drove three million rivets into the hull of the world’s most luxurious ocean liner. Where the largest movable object on earth slipped down into the water to begin her one (and only) journey.

 

My first visit to Belfast, Northern Ireland, was in 2005. This was before the exhibition hall was built, before anyone realized there were t-shirts to be sold. This was an era where the only nod to Titanic came in the form of a hop-on hop-off bus that stopped about 200 yards away from the waterfront while a disaffected, elderly man on a microphone pointed out three sad, rusty cranes used in the construction of the un-sinkable ship.

 

After a week of driving around the emerald isle (and a completely lovely family reunion in Donegal), it’s the grand finale of our trip. The moment I’ve been looking forward to since I first read of its existence: it is time to visit the birthplace of Titanic!

Slipway where Titanic was built - Belfast, Ireland

Slipway where Titanic was built and then sent to sea in Belfast, Ireland. It’s an interesting place to think about man’s hubris while also wondering if you can sneak into the Game of Thrones set there on the right.

The once vacant shipyard where she was built is now the site of the Titanic Belfast experience. It’s a gorgeous architectural ship of dreams from the outside. And for the hungry, it houses a nautical-themed café serving paninis “inspired by the RMS Titanic” on the inside. Which I can only guess taste like social inequity and iceberg lettuce.

 

We head to the ticket counter and I’m more than slightly disappointed that I don’t get to push my luck again as a fated passenger from yesteryear. But all is not lost; we get to stand in front of a green screen in a variety of amusing poses to be laid onto a Titanic backdrop of our choice, available for purchase once we complete the exhibit.

 

Titanic Belfast is well thought out and wildly comprehensive. There is no rivet left un-pounded when it comes to details across a multitude of subjects:

  • population movement and the industrial era of Northern Ireland
  • communication technology
  • nautical engineering
  • interior design
  • historical biography
  • oceanography
  • rope

It really does have it all. I can’t imagine you could come here and not be fascinated by some aspect of either Belfast or the great ship’s story.

 

Learning about shell-plating at the Titanic Belfast Museum

Relaxing on your floating sofa while you learn about shell-plating.

This museum is MASSIVE. It has a RIDE inside. Like an actual you-must-be-this-tall-to-ride-this-ride RIDE. For a moment I am nervous since I hate roller coasters, I can’t swim and I have no idea how this figures into Titanic history. But it turns out to be a gliding hydraulic car that wends us up and down while we watch early 1900s construction projected onto screens. It’s kinda like if your living room became a ride. And you watched a lot of black and white documentaries about welding.

 

Seamus lasted surprisingly long at this museum. Even though initially he was humoring me, his interest got piqued somewhere around the black and white film showing the launch of the ocean liner. It is projected onto the window with a background view of the exact same spot of said launch for perspective. This leads me to believe that even normal people would enjoy their visit here.

 

This museum takes several hours to go through. Beware though that after the viewing of Captain Ballard’s NatGeo documentary featuring the barnacled wreckage, your exit from the theatre will be accompanied by the appropriate, yet irritating serenade from Celine Dion. (This is a public service announcement just so you know why you’re humming that your heart will go on while you’re eating curry fries later that night.)

Gift Shop - Titanic Belfast Museum

I think we can all agree that the Captain exercised some poor judgment in selecting helpers.

We all know that no museum visit is truly over without some gift shopping, which fills me with confusion as I peruse the t-shirts and key chains. And why are there onesies with “Captain’s Little Helper” printed across the front? Is this a good thing? I mean…that’s some totally unreliable help there. Oh wait; maybe the Captain’s selection of helpers was part of the problem. Everyone knows that three-month olds are useless in a maritime disaster situation, and yet here’s the captain rounding up a crew of babies and giving them hot-pink onesies. That would be one thing I would definitely change when I can finally time travel and save Titanic.

 

Obviously bizarre souvenir tie-ins aside, I pay for my Titanic Christmas ornament. Nothing says the holidays like egregious calamity sparkling away, right there on your tree.

We exit the mother ship of museums and wander out onto the plaza. As I gaze down the slipway where she sailed away to meet her destiny on the ocean floor I feel a twinge of sadness. I’ve completed the Titanic Trail here in Ireland.

Until I remember there’s a Titanic cemetery in Halifax calling my name.

 

 

Travel Pinterest - Clever Dever Wherever

A Visit to the Titanic Belfast Museum

 

 

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Titanic | Belfast Ireland | Titanic Museum | Visit Belfast | Travel Ireland

About the Author

Hi. I’m Juliana Dever and according to science I have some sort of "exploration" gene. Embracing this compulsion, I spend a lot of time hurtling around the planet in metal tubes experiencing other cultures and writing humorous essays about it. Enjoy.

15 Comments

  1. karal / May 13, 2015 at 1:57 pm /Reply

    I’m obsessed with the Titanic! I think i may have died on it . . . so I love your site already! I see you said “try my luck as an ill fated passenger again…!”

    • Juliana Dever / May 15, 2015 at 11:53 pm /Reply

      I’m addicted to the story, what can I say? I found out in 2012 that a good friend of mine had relatives that survived the sinking and flipped out. I was all over her, pumping her for details. I am definitely going to Halifax to visit that cemetery… how can I not??

  2. Steph / May 13, 2015 at 2:02 pm /Reply

    Love the new site, Juliana! I look forward to reading all about your travels here in more than the 140 characters I get on Twitter! Thanks for letting me live vicariously through your travels now, as a poor grad student. Hopefully one day I can do some traveling of my own!

    Oh…and thanks to you, I’ve already got My Heart Will Go On in my head. How do you get it OUT?

    Safe travels!
    -S

    • Juliana Dever / May 15, 2015 at 11:51 pm /Reply

      Sorry about that. It’s an insidious ear worm, isn’t it? I’m happy you are enjoying the site. I will keep putting stories and pictures here for you while you are in school. I know you will get to see the world in time and hopefully you will find some places here to inspire a future trip.

  3. christel / May 13, 2015 at 2:07 pm /Reply

    wow !!!! it’s wonderful and it’s a pleasure to read you !!!!

    • Juliana Dever / May 15, 2015 at 11:50 pm /Reply

      Thank you much Christel! There is more coming soon…

  4. MaliseMatnik / May 14, 2015 at 3:14 am /Reply

    Wonderfull !
    The pics are awesome !

  5. suzanne Bowman / May 16, 2015 at 12:25 am /Reply

    Hey Juliana.
    what a great write up of the Titanic experience. I can vouch for it whole heartedly. It’s a wonderful interactive experience. Not like a normal museum at all. Looking forward to welcoming more people to Belfast. Cheers Suzanne x

    • Juliana Dever / May 21, 2015 at 9:40 am /Reply

      I’m so happy you liked it Suzanne, it’s quite a fun museum. I think Belfast just gets better and better, every time we visit. And especially dinner in Hillsborough. I just LOVED Parson’s Nose. Yum…

  6. Cassandra / June 1, 2015 at 10:09 pm /Reply

    I absolutely love your new blog! I am so fascinated by your travels! My best friend and I are planning a huge Europe trip after we graduate from college in about two weeks (eek!). Your blog is now making us want to try and fit in so many places we weren’t thinking of before (like Iceland).
    Anyway, I couldn’t resist reading this post about the Titanic because I’m obsessed. Thanks for sharing!

    p.s. This kind of reminds me of the Titanic cafe in LA. Super sketchy. Not recommended for anything other than a picture as you drive by.

    • Juliana Dever / June 11, 2015 at 9:39 pm /Reply

      Thanks Cassandra! I find that the more I travel, the longer my list of places to visit, so get used to that. Don’t pack too much in, just pick a few places that are appealing to you right now and soak them up. You have loads of time to try new places in the future.

  7. Lynette / June 9, 2015 at 7:44 pm /Reply

    Loving your blog. I am a travel addict & get itchy feet when I am not planning or on an adventure!
    We had a travelling exhibit of the Titanic come through a few years ago – it was great – unfortunately I was one of the steerage passengers that did not survive :{

    Looking forward to hearing more of your travels!

    • Juliana Dever / June 11, 2015 at 9:40 pm /Reply

      Sorry to hear you didn’t make it, Lynette. 🙂 There’s plenty more travels to come!

  8. Katriana M / September 16, 2015 at 7:07 pm /Reply

    Go Irish people! My family is Irish, we live in Michigan. This is very interesting, I hope you and your husband continue to have fun and travel, I feel like I’ve been there now, kinda.
    Always

    @ KatrianaM

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