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04 October 2017Northern Ireland: Titanic, Belfast and Derry
14 October 2016The Historic Houses and Heritage of Winchester and the Isle of Wight
11 October 2015The Dutch Masters and The Rijksmuseum
22 September 2014The Houses, Art and History of Northumberland
05 June 2013Derbyshire
19 September 2012Madrid
09 June 2011Bordeaux
25 September 2010Moscow and St. Petersburg

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Northern Ireland: Titanic, Belfast and Derry

On 4th October a group of intrepid NADFAS travellers left King's Lynn and made their way to Stansted airport for a flight to Belfast. Our first task was to negotiate the new automated bag drop system, luckily we all passed the test. Arriving in Belfast we were met by Tommy our guide and Trevor our driver. As the week progressed their fund of stories and knowledge of their home country made them seem like a double act. A short bus tour took us to Belfast City Hall and Stormont before reaching our hotel.

On a trip along the Antrim coast we were told that this area was a principle location for the filming of Game of Thrones. This was something that came up many times during the holiday – shame that most of us had never watched the programme! A visit to the distillery at Bushmills offered a chance to taste the famous whiskey. Maybe 2 tastings was not such a good idea as our next visit was to the Giants Causeway and we certainly didn't want to miss our footing. On an unusually sunny day we travelled alongside Strangford Lough to Mount Stewart with it's wonderful garden. A closed road meant we had an extra treat crossing the Lough from Portaferry to Strangford on the ferry. Castle Ward is an unusual 'his and hers' house, he favoured the classical style and she preferred the Gothic. A visit to Derry or Londonderry, depending on whether you speak to a nationalist or a unionist, showed us the areas that came to notoriety during the troubles. The murals here and those we saw in Belfast showed the strength of feeling that existed.

A visit to the Titanic exhibition is now a must for all visitors. This attraction opened in 2012 and there are now an average of up to 3000 visitors each day. There is such a lot to see that at times it is overwhelming but the poignancy of the stories and the eventual discovery of the wreck certainly made you think. The entrance ticket also includes a visit to SS Nomadic which was the tender used to take passengers from Cherbourg to their liner, and is the last remaining White Star vessel.

A very busy holiday which showed us a different side of Northern Ireland. Even closed roads, rail signal failures and a collapsed roof at the museum could not stop our enjoyment of our few days in the country. Thanks to Chris for organising another very successful holiday

Sandra Coleman   12.10.2017