Over the August bank holiday weekend me and my rugby mates flew the hour journey up to Belfast for some sightseeing, beer, laughs, beer, rugby and more beer.
We landed and headed straight to a museum. Some of the group chose W5 a science museum the others the Titanic Experience.
I had previously done the Titanic Experience a few years back when I was working in Ireland. I would thoroughly recommend. Lots of information, interactive areas and even a tiddly ride for everyone. W5 is a ‘kids’ science museum. All interactive with lots of play things to do. Our ticket got us entry for the whole day and we could pop in and out as many times as we wanted. 6 young adults running around and being fascinated with the experiments must have been a sight for the staff. I thought my mates may have said it was a little too childish (I was group organiser) but we all loved it and had a massive game of jenga which lasted a good hour.
After lunch we headed to our house provided by Airbnb. Everyone ran to claim a room and we settled in the evening. A home cooked meal and drinking games was just what we needed.
Next morning was the Women’s Rugby World Cup finals day! Our tickets gave us entry to all 3 games. So after cooked breakfast and getting 8 women ready for the day we made our way to the stadium. Belfast Council (I presume) put on spectator buses from the Europa Bus Station over to the Kingspan Stadium. This helped out a lot. That weekend Belfast had the rugby on, a music festival and some other event and according to our taxi man all the rooms in Belfast were booked with people paying up to £350 per night. So people were everywhere!
Just like when I went to Bournemouth 7s festival earlier this year (read #14 check! to find out more) we had sorted out some cheeky alcoholic pouches for our girly areas. The police were outside the stadium and being very helpful with directions and crowd control. But no body searches. Just bags. A massive buzz was in the air at the stadium. Everyone in their different kits and merchandise. I had designed our t-shirts (I wasn’t wanting to get my legit England shirt all messy – I’m a clumsy drunk) so we rocked up in these bad boys
But being big fans of this sport we wanted to grab ourselves some clothing from the official store. We set up camp at the front of the standing area near a try line and enjoyed the day. First game was Ireland vs. Wales. Good rugby and plenty of tries in front of our spot.
Next up was USA vs. France. Very physical game but I didn’t see much of this one as I was waiting in line for my face to be painted lol. We look so pretty.
But the final was the important game. The crowds became bigger and bigger and you start seeing people you know through the rugby community back home. The final was England vs. New Zealand. The previous RWC holders and the no. 1 team in the world.
A tough game for England. Lots of defensive play and tackles made to keep New Zealand at bay. However the opposition managed to break through the line a few times to score. One right in front of our spot. Awesome to witness but not so great regarding the team we were supporting.
In the second half Lydia Thompson made a huge break and ran down to us to score a try for England. We went crazy but alas we didn’t make it onto the TV. I was on edge all game as the score board was pretty close. Then I think England got tired and the points gap got bigger. Portia Woodman was an absolute machine. She broke through the line and scored numerous tries.
The final whistle blew and NZ were crowned the new Rugby World Cup champions. I was a tad disappointed with the result – naturally. However NZ earned their victory. We stayed to watch the presentation of medals and the cup plus we waited for the teams to do their walk round of the stadium. Getting to see and speak to Poppy Cleall (a member of our rugby club we play for currently) and just watching Vicki Cornborough ( I used to play rugby with her for Hampshire over 10 years ago!) was amazing. **I was jealous also that I wasn’t in their shoes**
The amount of coverage for games on the TV has improved since 2014 and more companies are beginning to support us women for funding etc. I’m pleased that women’s rugby is becoming more and more popular. Check out England’s stats for the tournament here;
A lot of people say “does it hurt playing rugby?”
I always reply with no.
Ok a small lie as I’ve broken my ankle, dislocated my little finger and managed to gain bruises and scars for life BUT you are coached and trained on how to tackle properly plus learn how to land a tackle too.
I believe its the amount of passion, brute force and determination then factors into how much you hurt. If you make all of your tackles and hit hard then yes you will feel these effects afterwards (by afterwards I mean the day after or the day after that). But when playing the game you’ve got so much adrenaline rushing through your body you don’t know what day of the week it is sometimes. Rugby is a high tempo sport with many rules but I strongly suggest to go give it a try and see what you think. Tackle practise on the pads is always fun and lets out a lot of stress or anger.
Once you’re hooked you’ll be hooked for life. The socials that come with being part of a rugby club like end of year dinners, tours, watching men’s games every Saturday makes you feel part of a family. Plus beer is always involved. WINNING!! If that hasn’t sold you enough then I don’t know what will.
Anyway back to Belfast.
After queuing in the hoards of crowds for the bus back into town our group split off again. The hard core party animals and the not so hard core. I chose to jump in a taxi and head back as my legs were killing me from standing so much. If I had sorted out seated tickets I would have partied the night away. Dominos pizza for dinner / 1am breakfast and my head hit the pillow.
We still had two days to explore Belfast so I organised us to have tickets for the City Sightseeing Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour. It definitely cleared everyone’s head. We also went though all 4 seasons within the 2 hour journey. We were happily enjoying a little sun to torrential rain.
We saw the Peace Wall, Crumlin Road Gaol, Alpacas in Stormont Parliament Buildings and much more. We jumped off at Castle Place to do a bit of shopping. Lots of novelty presents were bought. I got myself a t-shirt and hoody. We then headed back as I had pre-booked an hour’s stint on a Wee Toast Tour. This is ‘bike bar’ where you pedal yourselves around the city whilst having your own bought booze served to you at the bar. If I haven’t described it well enough check out the photos below.
Also check out their website too for more information.
Although we were late for our booking (taxi companies were extremely busy) they still crammed in a small tour and we had a blast!
Afterwards we headed to the nearest bar which coincidentally had karaoke. Now I like to sing in my car or in my house at the dog but I’m not a massive fan of audiences. However I was 4 shots and 3 ciders deep so very much had the ‘fuck it’ attitude. Once I started I was on a roll. Even had a local tell me how good of a singer I was. However I think he was just as pissed as me! There is a video of me absolutely bossing Shania Twain but who has I have no idea! We then moved onto Filthy McNastys a quirky pub that hosts live music and has a huge secret garden. They have nice cocktails in there in the fancy jars and fancy straws. The jar may have made its way home with me somehow?!? Drunken walk home and drunken food ended Sunday night.
Monday came and we all had a nice breakfast together in our house. Talking of events and making a plan for the day. Some people had earlier flights and others had a later one. The main aim was to get to the Ulster museum to see the Game of Thrones Tapestry. It is 77metres long and depicts all the episodes or major plot lines of Season 7. I’m afraid I’m one of those people who have not jumped aboard this band wagon. I’m not sure why. I’ve heard loads of people die so don’t get attached to the characters but that’s exactly what I do. Who knows I may try it out soon.
After that we explored the rest of the museum more with its natural history exhibitions etc. The gift shop had loads of good buys too. It was then time to part ways and 4 of our group left us. The rest of us then headed back onto the Hop On Hop Off bus to take us to CS Lewis Square. One of my friends had been talking about how she really wanted to see this but suddenly changed her mind. But still I liked it and took many photos.
There isn’t too much to do there so timing it right with the next bus is probably you’re best bet. However there is a café that is nearby. A short taxi ride took us to Crazy Golf! A pirate themed outdoor course. I love a bit of competition and I love crazy golf. The weather did dampen us but we powered through and managed both courses.
This had killed a big chunk of our afternoon and we decided to head to the airport, get rid of bags and just chill out.
My time in Belfast was fun filled and I’ve still got reasons to go back there. I think next time I will check out more museums, find Belfast Cathedral and frequent more eateries and pubs.