Well this post is long overdue since I spent the long weekend at the end of October (which was wayyyy long ago) in Northern Ireland & Ireland, but as you may have all noticed, I don’t quite make my blog posts in (or even close) to real time.
Anyways, going to Ireland for Halloween was a bit of a last minute plan. One of my friends from Seville was going to Dublin for the long weekend and invited me to go along with her (post on my time in Dublin later- for now I’ll stick to Northern Ireland). Since it was a long weekend in Spain, flights from Spain were pretty pricey to pretty much anywhere. Surprisingly, Ireland was one of the cheaper destinations. Plus I hadn’t really had a chance to REALLY see Dublin the first time around so it seemed the perfect opportunity.
After a quick search on Skyscanner, flights happened to be significantly cheaper to Belfast than they were to Dublin. This came as great news since I’d yet to visit Northern Ireland and had been wanting to go to Giant’s Causeway for some time and one of my favorite musicians – James Blake- just so happened to be playing in Belfast. It seemed like the perfect alignment of events.
Accommodation: I stayed at the Global Village hostel, which I must say has been one of the best I’ve stayed in for a while. It was decently priced, beds were like giant box shaped bunk beds with personal lights and outlets (always a plus), staff was friendly, bathrooms were sufficient, and it had such a cozy feel to it. I was left with a really good impression. The only meh was the breakfast as it was essentially two types of cereal and white bread with jam, but I can deal with that!
Belfast city: I didn’t have too much time to explore the city since I only had two nights there- and I arrived pretty late on the first night so I basically just went to bed. My first full day in Northern Ireland I took a day trip to Giant’s Causeway (more on that in a bit) so my only opportunity to see the city was on Sunday just before I headed out to Dublin.
Since time was limited I decided to do a “free” walking tour of the city. To be honest, I wish I would’ve had a bit more time- it seems like a really cool city. A bit on the industrial side so not very ‘romantic’, but it seems to be amidst a cultural shift. I learned more about ‘the troubles’ that have divided many Irish folk and led to quite a bit of violent manifestations since the 20th century (and even up until this day). It’s such a historically rich city- in case you weren’t aware, the Titanic was built in Belfast since Belfast happened to play a key role in industrialization and the steel industry. In many ways, Belfast reminded of Manchester. Belfast and the surrounding areas also happen to be hugely important in the filming of Game of Thrones. No, I still don’t watch this show, but I can understand why they would film here!
Food was mostly forgettable, but I must say that I had one of the best burritos I’ve had while in Europe in a burrito chain called Boojum. It’s a burrito bar that is very similar to Chipotle. I’d definitely recommend it to anybody looking to satisfy their burrito cravings while abroad . It was so good the first time that I determined to get it a second time before I left- I almost missed my bus for it, but it was so worth it!
James Blake Concert: one of the major reasons for spending two nights in Belfast was that James Blake, one of my favorite musicians who I’d been wanted to see for years, happened to be playing a show there on my second night! A friend from Seville passively mentioned it but I immediately booked after she send me the link…..without waiting for her to confirm whether she could actually go.
She wasn’t able to come in the end so there I was with one ticket to see a show in a city where I knew absolutely nobody. Well, I’ve done stranger things, so I said YOLO. I figured the worst that could happen is that I’d get funny looks for being alone and maybe feel slightly awkward. Butttttt, James Blake is so talented I didn’t even really care. So off I went on my second and last night in Belfast and I’ve gotta say it turned out to be absolutely fantastic.
Yes, it was awkward and scary at first, but I met the sweetest Irish girl who was also alone while she waited for her friend to arrive. We were both awkwardly standing alone during the opener and so we started chatting. She even invited me out with her friends for some drinks after the show. We walked over to a couple of pubs and had some really interested conversation. Turned out to be such a great night!
Giant’s Causeway: A place that everybody must see at least once (especially GOT fans). I had really wanted to go here on my first visit to Ireland, but it was too far and time did not allow.This time I knew I couldn’t miss it if I was flying into Belfast. An Irish friend from Dublin was nice enough to ask his friend who works for PaddyWagon Tours to get me on for free. Free makes everything better, doesnt it? Though to be honest, I would’ve happily paid to see this place!
The tour bus left from Belfast early in the morning and we made a couple of stops along the way; The dark hedges from Game of Thrones (a bit underwhelming- the trees are dying off slowly), Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge and park, a small country pub in the middle of nowhere for lunch which was also GOT themed (they had a door that was significant to the series somehow), and a very short stop to takes pictures of some castle on a cliff. But these were all the appetizers for the main course- Giant’s Causeway of course.
There’s some really silly fable that explains the formation of the volcanic formations, which was kind of stupid and I didnt really care for, but the place itself is so beautiful it overshadows the terrible story that goes along with it. Standing on the edge of the rock formations as waves came crashing in was absolutely breathtaking. Really glad I finally made it out!
So my time in Northern Ireland was short lived, but very well spent. I definitely could explore more of Northern Ireland’s stunning scenery, landscapes, cliffs, and cities!