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Post Info TOPIC: Newtownards as a base for Northern Ireland?


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Newtownards as a base for Northern Ireland?


Hi Michele and Northern Ireland travellers, I have a question about staying in Newtownards as a base for exploring Northern Ireland. (My alternative would be to stay in Belfast.)

I have been speaking on-line with a very nice lady from Belfast, who seems to feel that Belfast is a more convenient base for travel, and that Newtownards is somehow out of the way, though she doesn't explain exactly what is the problem in her view? In her view Belfast was more desirable as a base than Newtownards. Maybe it's just that she lives in Belfast and therefore of course she must love her city best!

Michele, I totally trust your opinion, did you find Newtownards inconvenient, as far as staying in Newtownards (maybe at Edenvale) and day-tripping to Belfast city, to the Ulster folk park and transport museum which is close to Bangor, and to some of the areas just south of Belfast? Also, there is a slight possibility, though it is unlikely we will have time, that we would travel from Newtownards up towards the Antrim coast as a day-trip? Also how did you get from Newtownards to Belfast, did you drive, or take public transportation?

In Belfast, we will want to visit the Botanic Gardens and nearby areas. Do you have any suggestions as far as transportation/parking? We will have a car but not sure if it's advisable to drive in Belfast city.

There is a b&b in Belfast within walking distance to the Botanic Gardens. Though I have to say your recommendation of Edenvale in Newtownards sounds wonderful!

Along the same lines, another travel question is do you think the Antrim coast and even the Giant's causeway could be a day-trip from either Belfast or Newtownards, or would it involve just a bit too much travel time and so an overnight stay up north somewhere would be necessary?

You always have good reasons for your choices, why do you prefer the Newtownards area as your base in the area? Thanks Michele! Anybody else who has stayed in these areas, I would love to hear about your experiences.





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Michele, I got some clarification from the lady who lives in Belfast. In her opinion, the Newtownards area is a small-town area with one-way streets which she finds inconvenient? Can you clarify this for me? (I can't imagine that it would be worse than our southern california traffic snarls! But I would appreciate hearing your view as you've been there.)

It looks like we'll be in Newtownards (or Belfast) in the middle of the week in July. (Wonder if that's better or worse, but that's how it ends up on our schedule.)

Thanks Michele!

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Melissa,


Belfast would be a very good base for doing what you want in Northern Ireland. But you are comparing apples and oranges. Newtownards is a bedroom community that people live in and commute into Belfast to work. Even though Edenvale has a Newtownards address it is not "in" Newtownards, that is just the nearest town. If you get out your map you will see Newtownards (or N'ards as the street signs abbreviate it) to the east of Belfast. From N'ards you take the A20 south onto the Ards Peninsula for a few miles and Edenvale is near Mount Stewart, which should be marked on your map. You can certainly do a lot from N'ards, like Bangor and the Ulster Folk & Transport Museum without going into Belfast or dealing with a lot of traffic. (Note that Bangor and the Musuem is just a short drive north of N'ards.) It takes about 30 minutes to get into Belfast from N'ards, depending on time of day. I drove in but you could catch a bus. There are parking garages available in Belfast and there is no problem driving in the city.


Belfast is the city. Edenvale is the country overlooking Strangford Lough and conservation areas. They are two very different places but are not too far apart. Either would do. Now you have to decide which would be more convenient for your trip and best meet your needs.


As for day tripping to the Giant's Causeway from Belfast, it can be done. But with so much to see and do along the way the ideal would be to overnight somewhere like Bushmills or Ballycastle. Personally, I think you have your days in NI filled already without trying to do that.


As to why I prefer staying in the countryside as opposed to the city, it is just a personal preference. They both offer different things. I just prefer the peace, quiet, serenity and scenery of more rural areas.


Michele


P.S. There is really no problem driving through N'ards. It can be congested right around the rush hours, but what city isn't? At other times there is hardly any traffic at all since everyone in in Belfast working.



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"Ireland Expert"  Michele Erdvig

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Thanks, Michele. Your reply answers my question about using Newtownards as a base very well. It really does sound like either Belfast or Newtownards would be a fine base for our itinerary.

I think I am leaning towards Newtownards and Edenvale. Ulster folk and transport museum looks very convenient to Newtownards. Isn't there also an interesting old pub near the area in your book...Grace Neills', was it? Yes, in Donaghadee. Your book has a nice range of suggested day-trips from the Newtownards area.

The things we want to do in Belfast would only take part of 1 day. I'm not usually a city girl, but want to visit certain places because my grandmother lived there.

I can imagine the convenience of walking from a Belfast city b&b to the Botanic gardens...but also putting up with the noise of big-city life.

I did learn from the helpful Belfast lady on-line that the houses on the street where my grandmother probably grew up have recently been torn down and turned into apartments! However I can't be too disappointed, since my father's cousin isn't even positive of the name of the street anyway. Apparently I can visit streets nearby and still get a view of some of the old houses. Don't actually know how exciting this will be. Truth is it is hubby who keeps saying we need to go to Belfast, I'm not sure I will "feel" my grandmother there. She loved music and stories and country walks and tea, though she did live in Belfast til she emigrated to America in her teens,, so I think I will "feel" her anywhere in Ireland I find music and singing and stories and country walks!

I also have a copy of a baptism record for grandmother's sister, baptized in the early 1900's at St. Malachy's Catholic church, on Alfred St. in Belfast. I notice you have a St. Malachy's church in your book, but I'm not sure if it's the same one?

I think you are right, I have a full schedule and won't have time for the Antrim coast or the Giant's causeway (not without giving up Dublin, but I am reluctant to do that!)

Many thanks for all of your excellent advice and support. You always seem to steer each traveller in the individual direction that suits him/her best. Anybody who hasn't bought Michele's book, Best Little Guide to Ireland, it's quite nice, she chooses the best charming b&bs for a particular area, then follows it with a nice description of things to do in the area, day-trips, and places to eat or good pubs. Rather than listing dozens of confusing choices, Michele has already been there and narrowed it down to the best choices for each recommended area.

I have recommended your web-site, travel forum, and book to others. Why should I have all the fun?!

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Melissa,


Grace Neill's Pub is not too far from Edenvale. It is one of Ireland's oldest pubs and I had an excellent meal there (again) in October. They won my Emerald Award for Pub of the Year in 2005. The restaurant area is no smoking.


Something you might want to add to Belfast is Rose Week at Sir Thomas & Lady Dixon Park in July. There are over 45,000 rose bushes! http://www.parks.belfastcity.gov.uk/ & http://www.rosemerald.co.uk/ & http://www.belfastcity.gov.uk/roseweek/


I do have a St. Malachy's Church in my book but it is in Hillsborough, which is south of Belfast in a really cute village. So it's not the one associated with your grandmother. But it seems you are finding out a lot more info about her home area. It will be a thrill just to walk the same streets that she did.


Thanks for recommending my website to others. There is nothing like word of mouth for disseminating info. I do appreciate it!


Michele



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"Ireland Expert"  Michele Erdvig

Click links for Michele's Book or Custom Ireland Itinerary

Visit Michele's Irish Shop for unique Irish gifts and beautiful photos of Ireland.



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Michele, thanks for the Northern Ireland info!

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