It’s time for the sequel to my smash-hit Glendalough post!
I recently went with a family member on a quick day trip to Belfast to see the Titanic museum that was built a few years ago, situated at the site of the ship’s construction. Because I now view every experience I have as fodder for blog content, here’s a post about it.
Driving across the border to Northern Ireland is fun because there functionally isn’t; it’s extremely easy to do it by accident and not realize until you spot Union Jacks or prices in Pounds instead of Euros.
For example, here we are on the Republic side:
And here’s the Northern side:
Exciting, I know.
And then we drove into Silent Hill.
On the outskirts of the city we passed this… thing, which I assume commemorates Belfast’s love of spheres with slightly smaller spheres inside of them.
I’ve only ever briefly been in Belfast before. On both visits I was struck by how the big American-style highway makes you feel weirdly disconnected from the city, like you’re bypassing most of it. I kept thinking we were still in the outer suburbs, and then suddenly we were at the museum, located at the docks well inside the city.
This is the site of the drydock that the Titanic and another big-ass ship were constructed in. Apparently it lights up at night or something, but I was there during the day, so it wasn’t lit up.
(I didn’t say this was going to be interesting)
They obviously spent a lot of money on the Titanic museum. You can tell both by how shiny and impressive it looks and how expensive the tickets are.
You pass through multiple galleries themed on different topics in a vaguely chronological order, starting off with background info on Belfast and the general goings on of the early 20th century. Including this cool cyber-map, which lights up when you press buttons.
These two dudes moved and did a little spiel on the construction of the ship. The whole thing was projected on the side of the wall, which for some reason seemed more high-tech than if it had just been a huge screen.
In fact there were quite a few cool projection pieces, like this one. It cycled through various topics, some of which were interactive so you could stand on rivets and things to make them light up. The kids present seemed to enjoy it.
This part was on the Titanic’s construction. You go up an elevator to the top of this shaft and then you’re standing on a narrow-ish walkway while a woman blithely tells you about how the construction workers operated at dizzying heights with no safety gear. It was terrifying. There was some kind of cable car thing you could go on, but it would have involved lining up for half an hour at the edge of the walkway so I said NOPE and moved on.
Have you ever wanted to know what the Belfast dockland areas look like from a slight height? WELL I’VE GOT JUST THE PHOTO FOR YOU
My one disappointment with the museum is that there wasn’t more of this- recreations of the ship’s interior. In fact given the building’s size from the outside I was expecting that they would have whole hallways or other sections of the ship you could walk around.
This kind of made up for it though. It’s a three-screened enclosure that plays a looping CG fly-through of the different levels of the Titanic, from the engineering parts down below all the way up to the bridge.
I didn’t take any photos because it was super dark, but directly after this was the gallery dealing with the sinking. It would have been easy to reach for melodrama here or make it maudlin or over the top, so I liked that it was quite matter of fact.
This is from the second to last section, which is all about the wreck of the Titanic. There’s a screen beneath a glass floor that does a fly-over while a guide talks about stuff. I didn’t stand on the glass floor because the screen is quite far down.
Check out these big yellow things. Apparently they’re famous.
All writing on Northern Ireland is required by law to mention The Troubles at least once, so here’s a photo of one of the “peace walls” that divide predominantly Catholic and Protestant areas:
Since we were there just to visit the museum I didn’t get a very good handle on what Belfast is actually like. Some day I’ll have to take the train up and see the city center and stuff, and then you can all look at more riveting photos.