By Erica Crompton
Opening a conversation with local residents is how you really get a feel for the charm and elegance of Belfast and a sense of how this UK city has emerged from conflict to become a safe, popular short-break city. Today it stands as one of the world’s top tourist destinations thanks to the experience exhibition Titanic Belfast and Game of Thrones.
This month I travelled for the first time to Belfast with my boyfriend Paul, who happens to use a wheelchair. Mindful of this, we found the best way to explore such a peaceful city is by a black cab. Specifically, a Blue Badge Tour Guide by Billy Scott, who is a fountain of local knowledge who many times broke out into song to relay to us local knowledge.
From the grand Universities to the wall murals in the suburbs, this three-hour ride enabled Paul to see the city from the comfort of the back of a black cab, his wheelchair folded with us in the back.
The tour takes just under 3 hours and starts off in the University district, then meandering down residential streets where the upwardly mobile residents of Belfast live. We are able to stop off for a bathroom break and also to sign the Peace Wall, twenty minutes from the city centre.
The murals on the suburbs make for a fascinating but sobering historical tour. Billy tells us that the locals don’t mind the taxi tours in their neighbourhood as it enables them to tell their story.
As we travel back our hotel, where the journey started Billy breaks into song again and it all ends on an uplifting note: “Don’t believe all I’ve just said!” He winks as we depart.
Billy Scott, Blue Badge Guide and Taxi Tour guide will collect you from your hotel for a special black taxi tour of the city (approx. 3 hours). For more information or to book Billy, visit https://touringaroundbelfast.com/