Delights From Astronomy To Gastronomy

By: Catherine Harvey

For the perfect short break away from it all take a plane to Ireland. You can then use car hire from Belfast Airport and within a few short miles see some of the best sights, experience some of the best tastes, indulge in some of the most exciting sports and have some of the most awesome fun you have ever experienced.

So, what makes it worth going across the water for a break when you could just as easily take one this side of the pond? For a start, Ireland is hot on educating their young and any children you take with you are guaranteed the time of their lives. Start with the awesome experience of Armagh Planetarium on College Hill, just a short drive from the company that supply car hire from Belfast Airport. Billed as a world renowned astronomical educational establishment, kids will be completely overawed at the sights and will be full of what they have learnt for a long time to come.

If they still have any questions you could take them to the whowhatwherewhenwhy - the W5 @ Odyssey on Queens Quay in Belfast. This is an entirely interactive discovery centre with over 160 exhibits that the children can touch, feel and try. Demonstrations and exhibits change throughout the year with events covering a plethora of subjects from sports to myths and monsters through to every kid's favourite - the dinosaurs.

Belfast annually hold the Belfast Children's Festival. This is for children aged up to 12 with over one hundred performances, workshops and exhibitions supplied by artists from all over the world, including Korea, India, UK, Denmark, Japan, Africa and Ireland. But we don't all have children and if we do we don't always want to take them away with us. So, what is there in Ireland for the fortunate child-free visitor?

For a start, you won't need such a large vehicle so your car hire from Belfast Airport will be smaller and cheaper. If you enjoy seeing the history and culture of a city in all its glorious colour then you have a choice of over forty landmark buildings within Belfast itself. Monumental buildings that show architecture was and still is an important show piece for Ireland abound around the city. Check out Belfast Castle, Queens University, The Albert Clock and Stormont Parliament Building just for starters.

If music is your thing, there are plenty of concert venues including the Grand Opera House and Jazz events are on in every corner of the city. For the young, free and single you will be spoilt for choice with the pubs and clubs playing a wide assortment of music from hip hop, dance and garage through to house, techno, R & B and funk. So, there will be no reason for not having at least one night out on the tiles!

For sports lovers, no trip to Belfast would be the same without a visit to Dundonald International Ice Bowl. This is a venue for families and singles alike with its Olympic size ice rink, 30 lane ten pin bowling, indoor adventure play world and four star caravan park. For those who prefer to be spectators, see the Belfast Giants playing their ice hockey or take a day out to Down Royal Racecourse.

Even a day trip to Belfast would be a day to remember. Shopping in Lisburn Road will see your choice of everything from designer clothing to traditional Irish arts and crafts. Some of these arts and crafts can be seen in exhibitions at Craft Northern Ireland. Exhibits of modern, contemporary sculpture from the country's leading craftsmen and women show the talent of Irelands people.

Finish the day off with a good meal - whether that be traditional Irish fayre or something with more of an Asian or Mexican twist - there will be something to suit your taste buds.

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