Part 2 of our travel to Great Britain series takes us to Northern Ireland, part of the United Kingdom with 6 counties in the north of the Island of Ireland.
Belfast is the capital of Northern Ireland and lies at the mouth of the river Lagan in the bay of Belfast. 1912 saw the launch of the Titanic from the Belfast docks, built by Harland & Wolff. The dockyards today are known as Titanic Quarter with many tourist attractions and a museum. The buildings from the Queen`s university are partly from Tudor times and there is a beautiful and well visited botanical garden. Within walking distance from the garden, you will find the Ulster Museum, which has collections of art, natural history and science with free admission.
Stormont Castle, the seat of the government of Northern Ireland can be found in East Belfast. You can visit the beautiful surrounding Stormont Estates and the Parliament buildings are open to the public at certain times.
Belfast City Hall lies in the heart of Belfast city centre and offers free tours to the building. The Titanic Memorial Gardens has bronze plaques with all the names of the victims of the Titanic disaster and is in the grounds of the City Hall.
The partition of Ireland into the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland happened in 1921 after the Irish war of independence. Society politically separated in catholic republicans of Irish descent, who wanted the reunification of Ireland and mostly protestant unionists or loyalists who descended from immigrants, who wanted to stay with the United Kingdom. Visitors can see the Peace Line which was built in 1969 after sectarian riots. This wall separates the Falls Road of the republican Catholics from the Shankhill Road of loyalist Protestants. The Good Friday Agreement in 1998 has brought more peaceful times to Northern Ireland.
The Giant`s causeway is on the northern coast of County Antrim, about 80 km from Belfast. It is an UNESCO world heritage site and is an area with about 40000 regularly formed pillars of basalt. This causeway was formed through the cooling of hot lava. The area offers some spectacular cliff walks with views over to Scotland.
Further tourist attractions are the medieval city walls in Derry, the cathedral city Armagh, the Glens of Antrim, the Mourne Mountains and the giant Loch Neagh.
Travel to Northern Ireland is possible through 3 airports, Belfast George Best, Belfast International and Derry. There is also a ferry connection to Great Britain.
The four biggest banks can issue their own banknotes, all of them with different designs, which can be confusing for tourists. In addition to 5, 10, 20 and 50 Pound notes there is a 100 Pound note. When you buy British pounds in Australia you will get bank notes issued by the Bank of England which are of course accepted in Northern Ireland.
Visit www.compareholidaymoney.com.au for the best exchange rates for British pounds.