24 Hours Out Of Belfast // Glasgow
September 12, 2017 Chris Caldwell 0 Comments
It was early as we boarded the 7:30am Stenaline Superfast VIII from Belfast to Cairnryan, but we breezed through check-in and after just a short wait we are aboard the boat, slipping into some comfy seats in the lounge with a coffee and croissant at the ready as we take to the open sea.
The onboarding process was surprisingly informal and easy, none of the stress of an airport in sight – warnings about luggage sizes and the general airport panic are nowhere to be seen. Myself, my mum and my 3 siblings had travelled with Stena on a return day-trip to Glasgow as a birthday surprise for my mum; we were getting the boat over and travelling to Glasgow to take our mum to a restaurant that she loves but hadn’t been to in years, and costing just £15 per person for the days travel from Belfast to Cairnryan and on to Glasgow, you certainly couldn’t complain about the value for money!
So as we sailed across on the smooth sea we went off to see what the boat had to offer. To pass the time we played some games in the arcade where I mercilessly thrashed my brother at a ski simulator, checked out a movie in the wee cinema (thankfully not Titanic), browsed the shop, surfed the web on the free Wi-Fi and finally enjoyed a pint at the bar. There’s also a soft play area and oodles of facilities for little ones on board, something that I can’t help but take notice of as a father of a one and two year old! It was a genuinely lovely way to travel and I was already looking forward to the return journey as we stepped off the ship onto dry land. Here we boarded a luxury coach, with reclining seats, AC, footrests and (sometimes) Wi-Fi. We wound our way through some great Scottish coastal scenery as well as some breath-taking vistas, arriving in Glasgow a little before 12 for nearly 5 hours of free time to explore the city.
We visited the aforementioned restaurant Dimaggios which is a family run Italian style eatery in Royal Exchange Square. The décor would not be out of place in an Italian gangster movie – thankfully no horse heads were to be seen – with two-tone floors, shiny hand rails and lots of booths and large family tables. We arrived at half 12 and the place was bustling, but we got seated quickly and orders were taken. I had ordered the wings to start and a pizza for mains. The wings were the compact 1 piece variety with a tangy spicy buffalo style sauce, well done and they left me smacking my lips. My pepperoni pizza was a thing of joy: smothered in a sweet rich tomato sauce, with stringy melted cheese browned on top which all crowned the light crispy well-aired dough base. Dotted about were crisp dots of mildly spicy pepperoni sausage. It was so good I ended up eating it all and left no room for dessert. Ooops! The whole table ordered different starters and mains and between the ten dishes there wasn’t a single complaint. They’ve been doing this nearly 40 years and it’s easy to see why.
We decided a walk was in order and as we strolled up to Georges Square we noticed the City Sightseeing buses parked at the side. Well, we were here to see the sights so we hopped aboard and for £14 each they took us on the loop all around Glasgow with our wee headphones on. It really is a great way to take in the city in such a short space of time. So much history and culture to take in and what better way on a sunny day than from the top of an open topped bus – from the Barras to the West End, the transport museum, Glasgow Green, The Finneston Crane to the Armadillo, it takes you on a super informative trip that takes in a lot of Glasgow’s history in such a short time.
We didn’t quite have enough time to stop off anywhere, but maybe next time! We did, however, have time for a few pints before heading back to the bus. It seemed like the whole bus had a snooze as we set off on our return journey back to Belfast and we boarded the ferry once again after a short wait at the terminal. All of the great facilities were on offer just like on the way over, and as we arrived back to Belfast at 9.45pm we caught the sunset over the water just in time for a few photographs to commemorate the day.