Northern Ireland

Exploring the Coast of Northern Ireland

Exploring the coast of Northern Ireland | Hello Victoria

Waaaaaaay back in August, my parents came for a visit. As I mentioned before, we spent a few days in London, but most of our time together was spent in Northern Ireland.

My parents had never been to the Northern part of Ireland before, and Richard still has some family living outside Belfast. It was a great excuse for us to visit family, while also showing my folks a part of Great Britain they had yet to see. We debated driving up through Scotland and crossing the sea on the ferry, but just didn’t have the time. The next time my parents visit, I want to do Scotland properly – I long to explore Edinborough and the Isle of Sky, but haven’t had the opportunity yet.

So, as we weren’t going to drive there, we took the quicker option and flew to Belfast. From there, we rented a vehicle and drove straight up the coast to see the many sights of County Antrim. A few years back, for our first Christmas together, Richard and I toured the coast of Antrim. Of course, it was rainy, windy, and horribly cold that trip, so I was excited to see the same places in a slightly warmer climate. It is Northern Ireland after all 🙂

Exploring the coast of Northern Ireland | Hello Victoria

When Richard and I had visited before, we spent a couple nights in the Causeway Hotel, and rather enjoyed it. It’s right near all the main sights, and quite reasonable in low season (however, this time was a bit pricier). The breakfast had been excellent last time, and was the place I got my recipe for wheaten bread! The food wasn’t quite as good this time, but the location just can’t be beat. It’s right beside the visitor centre for the Causeway, and grants you free access.

The Causeway Hotel, Northern Ireland | Hello Victoria

I love the mosaic tile in their entry!

The Causeway Hotel, Northern Ireland | Hello Victoria

We decided to just relax that first night and grab dinner in the hotel, then wake up early the next morning to visit a couple of the sights. First up, was the Carrik-a-Rede rope bridge. It’s a beautiful little spot just a ways down the coast from our hotel, and plenty busy with all the tourists. The last time that Richard and I were there, it was closed and I never got a chance to go across to the little island. It used to have a proper rickety rope bridge, but now it’s pretty sturdy. But it’s still a scary crossing for some of the tourists there!

Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge | Hello Victoria

Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge | Hello Victoria

Once you get across (which can take time with the lines of tourists in the summer), you can just wander around the little island and enjoy the views of the cliffside. Be careful, as there are no ropes or anything keeping you from falling off the sides of the cliffs! (more…)

Perfecting Northern Irish Wheaten Bread

Northern Irish wheaten bread | Hello Victoria

Last year for Christmas, Richard and I spent a month traveling (side note – am I the only one who always tries to spell this travelling?) around the UK. We spent time in England, Northern Ireland, Wales, and even drove through Scotland (albeit without stopping) while visiting his family! For some reason, one of the things we remember most is getting stuck in the wind and rain outside of our hotel beside the Giant’s Causeway after a fire broke out. Not exactly the most fun we’ve had, but the reward was worth it!

Giant's Causeway | Hello Victoria

Giant’s Causeway

We were in the middle of a wonderful breakfast at the hotel, when one of the dryers in the laundry caught fire, and we were told we had to go outside right away. Unfortunately it was in the middle of December, and of course we forgot to wear our winter coats to the dining room. After freezing outside for a while, we were brought into the nearby visitor center to wait until the firemen cleared the building. Luckily nothing was damaged.

Giant's Causeway | Hello Victoria

a few photos from our trip last winter

As we were checking out after breakfast, they asked us if we had managed to finish our meal before the fire. With the exception of a cup of tea or two, we had, but we asked them if they could do us a favor in lieu of the rest of our meal. Would they be willing to share their wheaten bread recipe with us? I doubted they would as restaurants/chefs aren’t normally known for that sort of thing, but lo and behold, the chef not only gave us the recipe, but a loaf of bread (still warm from the oven) to take with us! (more…)

Day Out in Belfast

Shopping in Belfast | Hello Victoria

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. (more…)