Dolores Vischer has always loved tours.
Having been on many tours herself and having led tours for visitors, guests and friends, Dolores had become a bit of a tour aficionado over the years. During the pandemic and subsequent lockdown, she decided to make it official and become a Belfast ‘Green Badge’ Tourist Guide. She was one of the first group of guides in Belfast to achieve this internationally recognised tour guiding qualification.
In her own words, Dolores described being a tour guide as being a “cultural interpreter”- bringing to life the people, the places and the objects that make up a place and ideally through a local’s perspective. It’s not all about heavy facts and figures, but more about the quirky, unique things that make a place what it is. “You don’t want people to nod off, you know!” she said with a laugh. Dolores’ wealth of knowledge and passion for her city shone through when we did a practice tour – she pointed out so many of the things people – like us – walk past daily without truly knowing their context or why they came to exist!
After earning her ‘Green Badge’ status, Dolores’ pilot tour focused on music, however, her new tour “The Merchants Who Grew A City” is a bit different and is all about entrepreneurship and industrial design. When we asked her why she first thought of the idea for it, she talked about “the story of Belfast, its people and its geography” and how they were all very much connected and the city evolved as a result of entrepreneurial people. As you may know, Belfast’s history as a global port owes much to its unique geography and also the drivers of industry. Its rivers made it a place for whiskey and linen to be created, cultivated and transported from; and the distinct local red clay became the source of Belfast’s iconic red brick buildings. Dolores spots connections across all of these things and said that creating a tour herself helped bring the rich history of Belfast to life.
“Every word and every sign has a story behind it.”
Sneak Peak: This Sunday, Dolores will be leading a 2.5 hour guided tour through the city. She’ll show you the oldest object in Belfast Harbour and she’ll be talking about names and their origins – for example, why is Hadskis called Hadskis and how do you spot Potthouse Lane? Things don’t stand still of course, and Dolores will also be telling us about the contemporary art – the sculptures, street art and installations in the entries – and their links to the industries that existed there once upon a time. It’s a tour not to be missed!