Vibrant is the only word I can use to describe my two-day visit to Belfast. The place simply buzzed with activity and on an afternoon when an autumn sun shone over a reborn city - it made me feel like I'd been missing out on life since the last time I had been there.
There are many ways to get around the city but I chose to take a bus - the bus guide displaying ample amounts of Belfast humour as we made our way down roads which once had been the subject of so much news footage (Shankill and Falls) - her jokes taking the sting out of sensitive issues and thereby sentencing them, we hoped, to history forever. Surely nobody could joke about 'the troubles' unless they felt certain they were well behind them.
She really didn't have any cause to emphasise the fact though as it was apparent to all who rode the bright red double decker that this was indeed the case - every street it turned down packed with well-dressed pedestrians availing of every possible facility - and no doubt looking forward to those soon to open up all around them.
I stayed at the Belfast International Hostel, 22-23 Donegall Road, Belfast BT12 5JN. Double en suite room cost 28 sterling. Bookable through www.hostelworld.com
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