Wednesday, 26 July 2017

A Weekend In Belfast: What to see, eat and do

Recently I took a trip up North to Belfast for the first time in 20+ years. The first time I visited I was only a baba and all I can remember is the Disney shop and my Pocahontas bag as my purchase. This time however I wanted to make sure I would remember more than that and get to learn about the history of the city.

How to get there

Myself and my mam travelled to Belfast via Dublin coach. We got a fantastic deal online at €10 return each and we were up there in the comfort of the non stop bus in just over two hours. I would highly recommend travelling with Dublin coach and making use of their amazing online deals while you can! The train would have been so much more expensive, so we were delighted to find this deal. You can book the fantastic deal on their website here 

Where to stay 

My mum chose the Europa hotel as it was where we stayed on my first visit to Belfast twenty years previous and she had great memories of the place. Upon arriving we discovered we had been upgraded to an executive suite and they had a lovely welcome plate waiting for us. This was one of the best welcomes to a hotel I've ever experienced and it was such a nice touch! 

                                          

The beds were so comfortable, rooms had a great view of the city and they had bathrobes and slippers also which is a nice touch. They also had the cutest little rubber duckie by the bath which was a lovely quirky touch. 

Breakfast was great each morning - you could order omelettes or opt for a full "english" or even try Bushmills whiskey on your porridge... which you can see on my Instagram account here

What to do 

We were on a highly planned itinerary (thanks Mam!) this meant that we got to make the most out of our weekend in Belfast and felt like we were away for much longer due to the amount we saw and did.

Once we had settled our bags in our room and had a quick change we hopped into the Black Taxi tours cab which picked us up from right outside our hotel. You can organise them yourselves or have the hotel organise it for a tiny extra charge which we were happy to pay. 

If you are visiting Belfast I highly recommend that you book one of these tours. They are so worth it and you get to see so much of the city and have the cities history and the Troubles explained to you. We were brought to the Shankill and the Falls areas which would still be quite divided today which is evident as you drive through them. We got to hop out and see all the murals up close while the taxi driver explained a bit more to us about the areas. 

                                          

Our driver brought us to the Peace wall also which is dividing these two areas for longer than the Berlin Wall has been standing. That fact shocked me and surprised me to hear how the gates between these two communities have to be locked at a certain time each night as there is still trouble feared between them. 

                                     

We got to sign the peace wall and read some of the quotes and words left by various world leaders on it.

                         

That night we also decided to take in a show at the Lyric Theatre. We got to see the show The Ladykillers and I would highly recommend it. It is an all female cast and is very funny - however it is a little on the long side at three hours! Have a look at what's on here on their website

On our walk back from the theatre we passed Queens University which is well worth a look around; it looks like Hogwarts!


We also of course felt like we had to go and do the Titanic experience. I actually WOULDN'T recommend it. I don't think it was worth the ticket price.What you are better off doing is going to the boat that is on the outside across the road and doing the self-guided tour inside there. It's a lot less expensive, not as busy and crowded and it still gives you the same information. 




Where to eat 

Both nights we chose Italian restaurants as funnily enough they were the two restaurants recommended to us. Coppi and Fratelli's were both delicious restaurants to eat in with quick service and friendly staff so definitely give either of the a go if you are in the city and fancy Italian food. 

I ordered the smoked chicken tortellin in Coppi which was absolutely gorgeous and had a pizza in Fratellis. The standout in Fratelli's was the desserts. You could pick a selection of miniature desserts in order to try them all! To have a look for more pictures of the food check out my Instagram account

Where to shop 

Being the absolutely unapologetic shopaholics that we are shopping was most certainly on our agenda. 

We decided to start off by visiting St.Georges Market which was within walking distance from our hotel and was a great start to the day. It houses so many quirky vendors of both food, accessories, crafts. The below was an example of different books made into clutches! Loved this idea, especially if you are a Harry Potter fan. 




It really is worth a visit and we spent a few hours wandering around listening to the live music, looking at all the different crafts on sale and having some delicious poffertje (mini pancakes covered in nutella) to eat. I'd also recommend trying a Belfast belly buster while you are there... they looked insane. 

Then we decided to hit the shopping centres - all the makeup stores were on my hitlist - MAC, Kiko, Kat Von D etc and we spent a lot of time in their Debenhams and House of Fraser. I also managed to track down the entire range of The Ordinary - the new skincare brand taking the beauty world by storm. It is such good value and high quality so I bought some of everything! I will be doing my next blog post on my Belfast beauty and skincare haul so keep your eyes peeled. 

We had a fantastic time in Belfast and would highly recommend it for a weekend away for somewhere different. It's a city full of history and  culture; I'm glad we got to experience it and the amazing food, shopping and show! 




    
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