The alternative Ulster tour guide



Aficionados of Northern Ireland’s steam locomotives will just about be able to see the shed where they’re all kept on the Bangor – Belfast railway line. Described by Lonely Planet as “one of the most boring railways journeys in Europe” it takes in such notable landmarks as the Kinnegar army barracks, the Dee Street speed camera and the back of the Oval football stadium.

Take a blue taxi tour and listen to the driver’s opinion on a range of subjects from the performance of his favourite Premiership football team, local politicians, and the physical appearance of anyone he drives past. Translation services for anybody from England unable to understand the Belfast accent are unfortunately unavailable.

Art and culture

A treat for any live music fan, Symptom of Humanity (Josh Caldwell and his mates Simpo and Blarsey) rehearse in his parents’ garage at 24 Cricklewood Park every Tuesday at 7.30pm (later if Simpo can’t get the Micra off his mum in time). Described on their Facebook page as a “fusion of punk, blues and electronica” and as “crap” by neighbour Daniel Jackson, their music is best enjoyed by standing outside the garage door.

Experience genuine Victorian prison standards by visiting Crumlin Road Gaol, mugging your tour guide and having to spend a night in Grosvenor Road Police Station.

For a fascinating insight into Northern Ireland’s troubled past, the graffiti walk explores the socioeconomic factors that have shaped Ulster society, culminating with the famous “Deano is a gaylord” motif on the corner of Templemore Avenue, which dates all the way back to 1997 and now enjoys protected status.

Outside Belfast

In 2015, pro-equality campaigners celebrated long into the night after Northern Ireland finally joined its neighbours in the UK and Ireland with the opening of the Applegreen motorway service station. No visit is complete without a Greggs steak bake and a rifle through the magazines.

For those maritime enthusiasts disillusioned by the fact that the Titanic Quarter contains two ships, neither of which are the Titanic, enjoy observing a real-life, functioning ferry at the Larne docks!

From there, continue up the A2 to the Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre, an incredible phenomenon formed some two years ago from countless columns of cement and glass.

Food and drink

And finally, no visit would be complete without a visit to The Bridge House, Belfast’s historic Wetherspoons pub, first opened in 2000. Although the pub’s legendary atmosphere has been diluted somewhat since the implementation of the smoking ban, you can still hope to see one of its trademark punch-ups on most Saturday nights!