I know I’ve been clogging up your news feed with holiday talk for the last week or so but, it would be incredibly remiss of me not to offer up these final few gems from our jaunt to NI…got to be honest though; if we start a craze and everywhere is rammed when we next go I’ll be livid!
You know sometimes when you’re away the last day is a bit of a drag because you’re basically waiting to head home? We were a bit worried that Sunday would be a little bit like that for us pre ferry but, a trip to the Titanic Quarter solved our dilemma magnificently.
The fact that it was actually snowing as we drove back into Belfast meant that indoor activities were the order of the day and my optimistic flip flops definitely were not but, no matter, we parked up and headed into The new Titanic Experience.
Now, I’ll level with you; I am little uncomfortable with the idea that key rings and fridge magnets are now basically souvenirs of huge tragedy and loss of life but, I am also very interested in the story and, as the more pragmatic and level headed Mr L says, it happened and, having a building like this museum tells the story and has breathed life back into the area that created Titanic bringing money and jobs so, the victims lives have, in the end, not been in vein. I suppose that is true and the imput from so many of the victims families illustrates that the most important people were happy with the exhibition.
The building is incredible and is the same height as the ship itself which gives you an immediate sense of how magnificent a site Titanic must have been.
The story is told across the six floors and takes you through the story of life in Belfast when ship building was the life blood of the city right through to the distress signals sent, the pitiful rescue attempts and the court hearings in the aftermath.
The personal stories are poignant but it was the real footage of the wreck that truly brought home the scale of both the ship and the disaster to me.
The girls had a great time running about, looking for the characters on their quiz sheets but we felt a little self conscious about their noise in and around such sensitive and emotional stories;
Is this a genuinely child friendly experience? Honesty I’d have to say no, not for younger kids. Yes there are plenty of things to look at, buttons to press and so on but there is so much for you to read, take in and look at they might run out of stream half way through…
It is already on our hit list for our adults only trip back to Belfast along with the Black taxi tour and Crumlin Road Gaol…
W5 on the other hand is a kids paradise.
All I need to say here is; if you’re in Northern Ireland or indeed near Northern Ireland and you have kids or have even been a child yourself, you should go here. It is awesome.
I shall expand on that however because it’s slightly lazy as a review if I don’t!
W5 was built as part of a millennium regeneration project around the docks and is housed within the Odessey Arena complex where you’d find all the big concerts (and this years Sports Personality of the Year Awards) going on.
The 5 W’s that the name refers to is who, what, when, where, why and each floor attempts to answer some of those questions.
We spent most of our time on level 2 which was simply perfect for us with loads of imaginative play with life sized cars and pretend shops, music and art studios as well as houses, books, a big wooden train track etc. Everything a toddler could need.
There was also an amazing climbing frame come piece of art called ‘Climbit’ which the girls loved exploring but it was pretty huge and I’d have been wetting myself if they’d had gone too high!!
We only had around 2 hours here but we could easily have doubled it and not run out of things to do and Sunday afternoon was ideal- very quiet so the girls really made the most of all of the exhibits. Nothing was off limits or ‘don’t touch’.
Yeah; get yourselves there!
Right, that’s it for our NI love in!
I’d better start looking for our next Staycation #abroadshmbroad
PS) I’d recommend that, if you’ve got toddlers like us you flip our day on its head.
Head to W5 for opening, tire them out, give them a sandwich for the walk between the two locations (the Titanic food is seriously expensive) and then they can (hopefully) have their nap as you stroll around the exhibition which is all brilliantly manoeuvrable even with a double buggy being pushed by a 2 year old!
Oh, and if you do have a wee stop after you’ve paid for your parking, remember that there is a time limit and if you exceed it you’ll have to pay the excess!