Leaving London: Belfast, Northern Ireland
COUNT DOWN TO BWTN: 18 DAYS
Most Fridays, I'm not actually in London. I'm off galavanting through some unexplored city elsewhere in the UK or Europe. Today, since I'm in town, I thought I'd take a minute to tell you about Belfast.
Belfast is the Nashville of the UK. Not in the music sense, but more in the general feel of the city. There's a little bit of everything: history, university life, night life, cool cafes, janky old thrift stores, neat little houses, and botanic gardens. The two cities are also both compared to Athens because of the central role that higher education plays in their dynamic.
Belfast is a city of a lot of history, some of it more recent and scary than I'd expected. It'll take me a few blog posts to cover all of what I did in my four days there, so let's get started.
I arrived Thursday evening and met my friend Jackson who introduced me to some other Americans studying at Queens University with him (gosh, I just can't get away from those darn obnoxious Americans! Oh wait...)
They took me to a bar called the Spaniard. Oh man. I would like to meet the person who decorated this place and see what they wear on a daily basis. It was so imaginatively and elaborately decked out. Ceiling entirely covered in old records, different currencies pasted on the walls, masks and ribbons glued everywhere you looked. And that was only the first floor. Upstairs, velvet curtains, walls entirely covered in cheesy arian Jesus portraits, tiny golden angel light fixtures, bright blue bar counters. The vibe was totally strange. And I totally dig it.
Word on the street is that the cast of Game of Thrones frequents the Spaniard during filming, much of which goes on in Northern Ireland. (When you see my post about the north coast, you will entirely understand why they film in such a beautiful place). After the Spaniard, we popped over to a true Irish pub to have a pint of Guinness (when in Ireland!). I am a major fan of "the quintessential," so this was a must. Then we called it a night.
(Forgive the terrible photo, but can you please appreciate the Jesus portraits?! Hilarious. This one's for you, Dr. Rev. Mom!)
The next morning I took a stroll through the Belfast Botanic Gardens. In case you couldn't already tell from my website layout and from the cover of Bright Was The Night (NOVEMBER 18TH! DON'T FORGET!), I really really REALLY like plants, and greenhouses in particular. I think you'll agree with me on the splendor of greenhouses based on the following photographic evidence:
After the botanic gardens, Jackson showed me his favorite brunch spot, Maggie Mays. It's conveniently located near the university and it has some hearty, traditional Irish frys on the menu. A fry is basically the Irish version of an English full breakfast. While I did decide it's a little strange to serve baked beans for breakfast, and that potatoes shouldn't be made into bread, I would highly recommend the fry to any Irish taste-bud adventurer.
We spent the rest of the day on a Black Taxi Tour of Belfast. There's a lot to say about that, so I'll save it for the next post.
Love and lucky charms,