Sorry, this post is kind of light on the photos (even though I brought my camera with me)!
Side Note – Does anyone else feel super awkward and embarrassed taking photos? It’s something I am working on, as I often look back and wish I had taken more photos… hopefully this blog can help me get over that! As Richard often reminds me “you are a tourist” – so I need to stop worrying about looking like one.
Last weekend was Richard’s birthday! I had asked the head baker at work if I could have that day off, and not only did he agree, but he offered to rig the schedule and give me a four day weekend!! The one thing Richard kept saying he wanted for his birthday, was to go home (to Northern Ireland). His sister Katherine still lives not too far from where he grew up, and he wanted to visit her and her husband, as well as see his wee nephew (who is growing so fast!).
So Saturday morning, we caught a flight to Belfast and spent much of the weekend simply relaxing and playing with his nephew. (Our previous weekend was spent doing much of the same with Richard’s Aunt. Apparently family oriented, stress-free weekends are our thing?)
On Monday, with Richard’s nephew at daycare, we decided to venture into Belfast and spend the afternoon doing a little shopping, lunch, and visit a couple of pubs. We started off just outside Victoria Square, as Richard wanted to buy some clothes for his nephew as a belated birthday gift. This area is mostly full of brand names and chain stores, but there were a couple of shops nearby on Ann street, that caught my eye.
Of course I had to go inside…
First up was Studio Souk – a store selling mostly arts and crafts from local creators (they even have studio space upstairs where artists work).
I really loved some of the ceramics that were there, especially these barnacle tea light holders. They were open at the bottom with little holes around to diffuse the light. If it wasn’t for the fact that I need furniture more than smaller decorative items, I might have tried to bring one home. Also, I’m not really going for a coastal look in our place, so maybe they wouldn’t have suited.
Just beside Studio Souk, was a new shop called Søstrene Grene. At first, I thought it was a shop selling mostly cute little home wares, but as you ventured further towards the back, you found art supplies, party decorations, knitting items, storage containers, kitchen wares, etc. etc… Richard could confirm that I spent much of my visit there declaring “Oooooh!” and “I like this!”.
last photo via Søstrene Grene
I ended up leaving with a cute little cactus planter, a jar that I will use as another planter (the lid can become the dish), a little wash up scrubber, and a lemon squeezer for Richard. Apparently this is a gadget he grew up with and loved, but I don’t quite see the use of – oh well!
our purchases from Søstrene Grene
After those shops, as well as a few of the usual high street variety, we took refuge in Bittles Bar. It’s a cute little place on the end of a split road, so it has a unique triangle shape. Inside, it’s pretty kitchy, but Richard enjoyed the artwork (quirky Northern Irish themed stuff). After a token Guiness to get our spirits up, we continued on for a few more shops until deciding it was time for lunch.
photo via lelalondon.com
We had been talking about visiting a few other restaurants including OX (mom and dad, want to go in August?), but they were closed on Mondays, so Katherine suggested The National Grande Café. We had been to their outside bar the last time we visited, but not the actual cafe/restaurant. I’m pretty sure Katherine wanted to go for the decor more than anything (she’s planning an industrial/modern house at the moment, and looking for inspiration), but the food was quite nice. Nothing amazing, but I’m pretty sure everyone was content with their meal.
photo via Roco Mag
After lunch we didn’t have much time left before we had to head home, so Richard decided that before we left, I had to have at least a pint at the Crown Bar.
It’s located just across the street from the most bombed hotel in Belfast, and full of Victorian character. I wish I had taken a photo of the mosaic tile outside (or any of it for that matter) but I was content to just enjoy my Guiness without spending what little time we had trying to get a good photo.
photos via Ireland.com
We may not have spent much time in Belfast, but I’m sure we have plenty more visits ahead of us. It’s got some great areas that have recently sprung up, like the Cathedral quarter, full of unique restaurants and pubs. After all, Belfast needs plenty of unique places to drink, no?