The lovely people over at Northern Ireland Tourist Board sorted me out with a little taxi tour of Belfast and although the name is a pretty big giveaway, I haven’t ever been on a tour of a city in a black cab before so I wasn’t sure what to expect.
10am this morning I was greeted by a dashing, very Irish looking guy in the reception of my hotel with a broad welcoming smile that told me we’d get along just fine. Billy, my gentleman taxi driver held open the hotel door and led me to his black cab encouraging me to jump on up into the front instead of the tradition cab in the back.
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A mum’s visit to the North Antrim coast and later Belfast – starts with ‘Are you sure it is safe’ and sings our Billy’s praises his knowledge and good humour . . .
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Back in late spring of 2012, I produced a segment about Belfast and Northern Ireland for HDNet, a US cable network. I had the great honour of working on the segment with 2 time Emmy Award winning veteran ABC News war correspondent, Greg Dobbs, and 4 time Emmy award winning videographer, Hank Bargine.
It was a rather poignant return to the Province for Greg as he used to cover The Troubles back in the day for ABC News as he was London based. He found Belfast to have greatly changed in the last twenty years and was suitably impressed. I am only glad that they didn’t come to film the segment two months ago when we were knee deep in flag protests.
We were lucky to have captured Belfast with mostly sunny patches and we were able to fit in some great interviews with the First Minister, Peter Robinson, Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness, journalist, Eamonn Mallie, and Deputy Chief Constable Judith Gillespie. The standout star of the show though was Belfast’s best know taxi driver, Billy Scott.
The segment below is not the fully produced final piece, but close enough.
“The history of Belfast is a complex one. One of the best ways to discover it is by taking a black-cab tour around the former political hot spots of North and West Belfast, delivered by knowledgeable and engaging drivers. Several offer tours, but among the most popular is Billy Scott”
Read more at; http://www.time.com/time/magazine
“Billy Scott owns and runs Belfast’s original Black Cab tours and is a man fiercely and justifiably proud of his city. He is the one who soberly reminded me that Belfast has been known more for bombs, bullets and decades of sectarianism than its rich history and heritage. Billy also has a sense of humour”
“Cue black taxi driver Billy Scott, a genial East Belfast man who is one of a number of cabbies who runs tours of the city.
His knowledge is quite remarkable (unsurprisingly he’s a Blue Badge Guide, the highest standard there is) and it’s delivered in a non-political and humorous manner.
My tour of almost three hours covered seemingly every nook and cranny of central and west Belfast accompanied by an endless conveyor belt of facts (for example, Belfast inventions include air conditioning and Milk of Magnesia) and gags.”
I would also like tomention guide Billy Scott in Belfast – the best one on one tour of a city I’ve ever had. Informative, comprehensive and funny.
Patrick Giorgi – Australian Travel Writer
“My driver guide was Billy Scott and he was terrific. When I went to meet him he was reading a book by an Irishman who took a train across the states. We talked a lot about travel books, which he was very keen on. We also talked a lot about history and architecture.”
“ Belfast’s bustling city center has effectively reinvented itself with a clutch of new hotels, restaurants and shopping centers. ”
Read more at; http://www.nytimes.com
“Take a tip. One of the most enjoyable and informative ways to have a quick injection of Belfast life is to jump in a taxi such as Billy Scott”s (firstname.lastname@example.org) and prepare for a wisecracking, gag-telling introduction to the city ” warts and all ” all delivered in a strong Belfast brogue at 100mph.”
Read more at; http://www.abtn.co.uk/news/181768-tour-belfast