Photos and the City

destination photography & travel

We´re doing a little time- & place jump – it was August, I needed a break from the heat in Vienna and went back up north – but this time to Northern Ireland and started in Belfast. Even so, I´ve been to Ireland several times, I´ve never been in the North.

By now you might have noticed if there is a boat tour I´m gonna find and do it. (Sometimes even twice a day)

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The Titantic Boat Tour started near the Albert Memorial Clock and the Big Fish – a lovely old fisher boat waited for us on the River Lagan.

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Accompanied by the commentary of the captain we made our way to the Titanic Quarter. A fairly new built and reactivated area, with apartment buildings and shops, but also huge film studios, the Titanic Experience (museum), regeneration on the waterfront, entertainment and historic maritime landmarks.

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The SS Nomadic and the Titanic Experience on the site of the former Harland & Wolff shipyard, where the RMS Titanic was built. In the historic Hamilton Dock the last remaining White Star Line ship in the world: The SS Nomadic was launched in April 1911 and was built to transfer passengers and mail to and from RMS Olympic and RMS Titanic.

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The Titanic Experience (seen from the other side), located on the Queen´s Island at the entrance to Belfast Lough, is a visitor centre and a monument to Belfast´s maritime heritage.

The building’s design is intended to reflect Belfast’s history of shipmaking and the industrial legacy bequeathed by Harland & Wolff. Its angular form recalls the shape of ships‘ prows, with its main „prow“ angled down the middle of the Titanic and Olympic slipways towards the River Lagan.[8] Alternatively, it has been suggested that the building looks like an iceberg, and locals have already nicknamed it „The Iceberg“.[12] Most of the building’s façade is clad in 3,000 individual silver anodised aluminium shards.[9] It stands 126 feet (38 m) high, the same height as Titanics hull.[12] (Titanic Belfast)

The poles represent the massive steel gantry in which Titanic and Olympic were built and light bands show the outlines of the ships.

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Right next to the Titanic Experience are the huge Titanic Studios were at the moment „Game of Thrones“ is filmed. Drones above the area are forbidden and all the fences around the studio area are opaque. An armada of caravans was parked on the side of the studios….

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The HMS Caroline served from 1914 until her decommissioning in 2011 as the second oldest ship in the Royal Navy. Now she is Belfast newest visitor attraction and anchors in the Alexandra Graving Dock. „…a graving dock refers to an enclosed basin into which a ship is taken for underwater cleaning or repair“ (Titanic Belfast).

In the mid 1870ies, the docks became too small for increased sizes and numbers of ships and a new one was commissioned on the northeastern edge of Queen´s Island.

 

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Seals seem to like Musgrave Channel – here lives Belfast’s large breeding seal colony – around 40 were counted in 2016. This was also the point when our boat turned around and made its way back through the harbour.

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And we were back on the River Lagan and at Donegall Quay – the Albert Memorial Clock on the left and the Big Fish in the middle.

When I walked around Edinburgh with Darina she told me about this „Harry Potter train“, an old steam train that crosses the Glenfinnan Viaduct (like in the movies) and passes many filming locations not only from „Harry Potter“ but also „Outlander“ and „Game of Thrones“. I didn´t get that train out of my mind, put it on top of the bucket list and to be honest it was kind of my excuse to travel to Scotland during the summer. (As you would need an excuse..)

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There are different compartments like second class, first class and first class „Harry Potter Style“, which I picked – I just love to ride in style!

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There is also a little „Harry Potter gift shop on board. But even if you´re not interested in that wizard-stuff at all, the train ride from Fort William to Mallaig is one of the most scenic train journeys alongside Loch Eil, Glenfinnan Viaduct and Arisaig.

The route is also the same shown in the Harry Potter films. The company running the Jacobite service provided Warner Brothers with the train used as the Hogwarts Express in all of the movies and allowed them use of the Jacobite’s route for filming. The locomotive used to pull the Hogwarts Express in the films, the GWR 4900 Class 5972 Olton Hall, is presently located at Warner Bros. Studios, Leavesden and can be seen during studio tours. (Wikipedia)

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The Jacobite Train starts from Fort William and ends 41 miles later in Mallaig.

The Mallaig Extension of the West Highland Railway opened in 1901 and was operated by the North British Railway. It was intended to help open up this rural and remote part of the Scottish Atlantic coast, and the building of the line was heavily subsidised by the British Government. It became part of the London and North Eastern Railway at the Grouping in 1923, and British Railways at Nationalisation in 1948. (Wikipedia)

Regular Steam Train services ended in 1967. In 1984 British Railways reintroduced a Steam Train on part of this route to boost tourism and called it the „West Highlander“, later renamed to „The Lochaber“.

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After the privatisation of the British Railway, the licence for this route was granted to the West Coast Railway Company and they started their service in the summer of 1995 under the name „The Jacobite“.

The image above shows the Glenfinnan monument shortly before the Glenfinnan Viaduct. My seat was on the aisle side so I didn´t see the viaduct but I made that up on the way back.

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A longer stop at the Glenfinnan station, to shop at the Harry Potter gift shop in the train and to visit the Glenfinnan Station Museum or just look around the station. There is also an old Dining and Sleeping Car, which I have to try out next time.

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We´re approaching Mallaig – hello again! This was already my starting point for Skye. The train stopped for around one to two hours in Mallaig which I spent just sitting at the harbour. Had to take in as much sea as possible before going back to Vienna.

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Wouldn´t that be the perfect place to write, relax and just switch off?

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Meeting the afternoon train at Glenfinnan station. That was my clue to get out on the aisle and watch the train ride from the window in the door.

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The first view of the viaduct and I´m not the only one peeking out of the window.

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About an hour later we arrived back at Fort William and I spent my last hours walking around the town and boarded the Caledonian sleeper back to London in the evening.

And I can´t wait to go back to Scotland!