CIE Tours Travel Blog
Down Through County Down
By: Samantha Henderson
Date: June 25, 2017
This morning, most guests ate breakfast at the Stranorlar hotel, but I opted for some extra sleep and hopped on the motor coach bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Austin took us on a short drive from the hotel to Titanic Belfast. When we arrived, a woman came onto the coach and explained the Titanic Experience. Once we understood what we were about to see, we exited the coach and entered Titanic Belfast.
Mosaic, Down Cathedral
One very interesting fact about Titanic Belfast is that the outside is actually modeled after the Titanic, its four sides mimicking the bow of the Titanic. Each side of the building reaches the exact height of the Titanic's bow (pictured above). The outside of the building is enough to marvel at for quite a while, but the inside was the real attraction.
Your ticket into the Titanic Experience is a replica of the tickets used for entry to the Titanic in 1912, which you can keep as a souvenir. You're then free to explore. The facility is huge and has enough to fill up one's entire day. However, some of my favorite parts of the exhibit included the radio message exhibit, which displays the actual radio messages between the Titanic and other ships from the time it set sail to the time it sank, as well as the models of the ship's cabins with examples of all class varieties. I could talk about this incredible exhibit (and even the ride within) forever. However, take my word for it, it's an attraction that should never be overlooked. With many Titanic museums around the world, nothing is quite like this.
Once finished with Titanic Belfast, we left Northern Ireland and headed to County Down to visit Down Cathedral, the burial site of Saint Patrick. We had some free time to explore the cathedral and the grave site before congregating in front of the altar to learn the history of both Saint Patrick and the cathedral. Once we more fully understood the history behind the landmark, we had more time to walk throughout the cathedral and cemeteries.
Altar, Down Cathedral
We then headed to the comfortable Ashling Hotel, in Dublin, where we had time before heading out for our fun night. We took a short drive to The Abbey Tavern in Howth. Once inside, we ordered our choice for the three-course meal and chatted. The meal was fantastic, complete with an Irish coffee. After dessert, the entertainment began. Incredibly talented instrumentalists, vocalists, and dancers had us clapping and singing along. Songs most of us knew were performed, but we also listened to some new tunes that were beautifully done. I think most of us especially enjoyed watching the Irish step dancers, as hard as they were to keep up with!
The night out at The Abbey Tavern was a great way to end a trip full of precious memories. When we returned to the hotel, some guests and I stopped by the hotel bar for a drink and to view a slideshow of the week we shared.
Next, I'm starting a new tour, Taste of Cornwall and Wales, with guide David Turner.
Meet ya there!