Over the bank holiday weekend at the end of April, my family and I went on a little weekend break to Belfast; the plan – completely my Mums idea – was to surprise my Nan at her brothers surprise 75th. Confusing, right? But to cut a long story short; growing up my Nan never knew her brother, and over the last couple of years they’ve made contact and have been catching up on lost time ever since. So the idea was that my Nan would fly out to surprise her brother, and then to surprise the both of them we would turn up at the party too – not much room for things to go wrong. . . However, the day of the party was brought forward and in a last minute panic to book new tickets, it didn’t occur to us to make sure we didn’t book the same flight as my Nan. Yep – we bumped into her; my sister Chloe spotted her in the departure lounge, and we only just snuck past her on the plane with out her seeing us. It was hilarious, but we managed to make it off and out of the airport at the other end without blowing the surprise.
Anyway, once we were there we set out to explore the city centre and grab a pulled, rotisserie chicken burrito (my pescetarian diet didn’t last long that weekend) at Yardbird, inside The Dirty Onion, just off Hill Street. That evening was the big surprise, and it actually went down a treat, my Nan seemed genuinely shocked, and we got to meet all of our extended family – I don’t think I’ve ever been bought so many pints in one night, I could barely get 5 feet from the bar before someone handed me another. The party was at what seemed to be a local bowling club just off Shankill Road in the North Western part of Belfast; lots of the old classic mover songs and more cocktail sausages than I could shake a stick at (sorry diet) – it was such a good night, a true old school family party.
On the Saturday my Dad had planned for us to do the coastal route down the north eastern tip of Northern Ireland, and it wasn’t until breakfast that morning that he let slip that we would be stopping off at Giants Causeway – a place I had always wanted to visit and due to my extremely poor geography skills, didn’t even realise was in Ireland. It was AMAZING; it was hands down one of the best natural sites I had ever visited and I would recommend anyone visiting Belfast to go and see it. It was a bit packed and it did cost a fair bit to get in to see it, but it was so worth it; it was pretty mind boggling to think that all those hexagonal blocks were a natural formation, millions of years old. After an hour snapping the scenery – with my families patience with me waning – we headed to Carrick-a-Rede; essentially a really small island, connected to the mainland by a rope bridge. The views were pretty special, but if I’m honest my favourite part was watching my Mum go across – she’s really not good with heights and was convinced it was me rocking it, not the wind. We spent the rest of the day cruising down the Coastal road, grabbed ourselves a Guinness and found some caves to explore.
That evening we went into the centre of town, aimlessly wandering to find something to eat, we hadn’t had the forsight to book anywhere, it was bank holiday weekend and everywhere was heaving. We ended up in Saint Anne’s Square at Coppi, a contemporary Italian cookery, the food was incredible! I was stuck deciding between the Duck Ragu and the Prawn Linguini, and just ended up ordering half of each – it was so bloody good! The next morning we found ourselves at Saint George’s Market; kind of a like London’s Spitalfields but with all the food stalls of Brick Lane, and then stopped by the City Hall, again both are well worth a visit if you ever find yourself in Belfast. In the afternoon we had arranged to meet, what we thought, would be only a few of our new-found family members. Turns out word had got around and there ended up being about 50 of us. If anything, the most memorable thing about that weekend was the effort made by everyone to make us feel as welcome as possible – cheesy I know – but they were all so family orientated, it was pretty refreshing to see.
As our flight wasn’t due to leave until the afternoon on our final day, we managed to squeeze in one last trip to the Titanic Museum. It’s situated at the site where the Titanic was built back in 1911 and the building itself was pretty impressive but the views were insane; it kind of rounded off the trip pretty nicely. All in all it was a lovely weekend, it’s not often I get to spend so much time with the family, what with my little sister Peg being in York and the rest of us being spread out down south – but I’m pretty sure we’ll be making another family trip across the Irish Sea this time next year.
Sorry for the excessive amount of images.
Thanks for reading, A