You may have heard the phrase 'be a tourist in your own country' and that's exactly what I did last Thursday! My family and I got up early to make a day of it, visiting the Ulster Museum and Botanic Gardens and we ended up having a fantastic time in doing so.
I'll be the first to admit Northern Ireland isn't the stereotypical idea of a luxurious holiday location but that's not to say we don't have anything to offer! If the scenic landscapes aren't enough for you, I thoroughly recommend a good walk round the museum and gardens as a day out. Don't fancy spending a bucket load? It's free!
I wanted to give you a little insight into one of my favourite 'tourist' places to visit in my home country. I got a bit snap happy and took nearly 500 photos throughout the day but don't worry, I've wittled it down to just my favourites! The weather couldn't really make up it's mind (as usual!) but that didn't stop us from having a lovely day.
Here's how it panned out!
Upon arrival, we were greeted by a friendly tour guide who provided us with a map to help us navigate ourselves around. It's a huge building and even though we've been here before, it definitely came in handy.
The building itself has a very modern look in stark contrast to all the artefacts and exhibitions inside!
Underneath a clear window in the floor, you can peek into the kind of dinner table necessities that would have been on board the Titanic! Belfast is known for birthing the ship and it's really cool to be able to take yourself back in time to see how the passengers were dining.
Is your dinner table as fancy as this?
If you're curious about prehistoric life, you're in for a treat! There are plenty of dinosaur fossils, built to show you how they all looked way back in the day. It's funny being able to stand right beside them, seeing how you measure up in size next to them!
Random fact of the day: the plesiosaur is actually my favourite dinosaur, just for the record!
Is it normal to have a favourite?
Probably not, but they kind of remind me of that Pokemon...not helping myself at all, am I...
All of the taxidermy.
There's a big section on sea life with some really beautiful things to observe. As well as the tiny, delicate creatures there are also huge squid and turtle replicas in a dark room of sorts which, if I'm honest, was quite scary! I have a bit of a fear of and always have nightmares about being submerged in murky water but it was an experience nonetheless!
An actual piece of the moon!
It's tiny and if honest, not all that pretty to look at but astounding all the same when you think of how far it's come.
I'm a December baby so it was interesting to see my birthstone on display!
Lots of bird houses and feeders on the balcony!
And you can do a bit of bird watching if that's what you're into!
Not so cute!
This was an absolutely stunning and huge piece of amethyst.
Look at the plug switches on the left for comparison!
And a massive chunk of quartz!
Without a doubt our favourite part of the museum, the elements exhibition.
I've been to the Ulster Museum a handful of times in my life but this was something new I'd never seen before. I loved it so much I made it my mission to fill in the visitor's survey to tell them how good it was!
Those ruby glasses were so beautiful, and interesting too - the glass isn't actually red, it's just the way the light reacts with the elements inside!
Each of the element groups were divided into boxes like these which my inner organisation freak was very happy about!
The icing on the cake was this periodic table with all of the elements on show. Well, all except the radioactive ones!
I finally put my Chemistry GCSE to use with this match up game! Although I did stop at my second compound and let my brother take over. He's only 14 and he finished them all off!
Next up was the art exhibition. Unfortunately no photography is allowed in this section so I can't show you what's there but I can tell you there's something there for everyone. We were well educated by Keith who showed us round and told us the kind of stories about the artists only an expert would know. Loved it!
At about half 12, we decided to break for lunch. There's a cafe downstairs in the museum but nothing really appealed to us and it was all a bit overpriced to be honest! It was raining outside by this point but we took the short walk to Maggie May's instead where they serve all day breakfast - my kind of place! The decor is unique, as well as really welcoming, just like the staff. I was amazed at how well the lady who served us remembered our orders even though she didn't write anything down!
I had the New York Breakfast which consisted of bacon, extra cheesy scrambled eggs and a bagel. Oh. My. We also ordered a bowl of chips to share between us but if we would have known how filling our meals were going to be I don't think we would have! Absolutely delicious and a decent price too. A sandwich in the museum cafe was £6 I think whereas this whole plate was about £4!
I'd never been to Maggie Mays before but I thoroughly recommend it and will for sure be going there again.
After our lunch, we pottered back to the museum will full bellies and because the weather had brightened up we took the opportunity to go for a walk around the gardens!
The greenhouses are not to be missed.
The atmosphere is just so peaceful inside and there's a huge variety of flowers, cacti and all sorts of who knows else to walk amongst. I'm no plant expert but you don't need to be to appreciate the beauty of nature.
I only wish I'd dressed a little lighter than a jumper as it was pretty damn warm in here for the plants!
After the lovely walk, we went back into the museum to see what we didn't manage to get to in the morning.
The stone age space is one of my favourites to come back to every time I visit and it was interesting to see it laid out differently this time.
Of course I built my own tomb which I have to say, I was quite proud of!
If there was one part I had to say I didn't like much it would be the World War II exhibition. It was just one room of propaganda posters which was slightly disappointing so I hope they have something a bit more diverse next time I visit.
Takabuti the Egyptian mummy is a definite must see on any visit to the Ulster museum.
The room is full of interesting and intriguing things - you can see the objects buried with her, a lock of her hair, a mummified cat and of course her sarcophagus alongside her very self in the middle of the room!
Now that's some intricate paint work!
On our way out we couldn't help but notice the gorgeous vintage car and Peter the polar bear. Imagine driving to work in that beauty!
I've never been the biggest history fanatic but I can safely say I love the Ulster Museum and I think there's something there to suit everyone's interests. We definitely had a wonderful, full day exploring and the gardens are in my opinion not to be skipped!
Have you ever been to the Ulster Museum or Botanic Gardens?
What's your favourite museum?
Thanks for reading,
P.S. My laptop is having a few problems so that's why my blog hasn't been updated as normal this week and this post has taken a week to get up. I'm working on getting it fixed asap and I hope to get back to regular posting soon. Bear with me!