Late last year whilst out with some of the school mums and our girls for dinner we were discussing the pros and cons (none) of time away from children and time with girlfriends. After a few glasses of wine we decided we were going to go away for a night. Where to go was discussed and as none of us had been before we opted for Belfast. By 11am the next day the flights were booked and by 2pm the hotel secured. We had a bargain the flights coming in at just under £20 return with Ryanair and 2 triple rooms at The Jury’s Inn Belfast for £99 per room.
The only downside is that we had to wait a couple of months.
During that time we set up our Whatsapp Group and started to discuss our plans becoming giddy with excitement. We discussed doing a famous Black Cab Tour but decided against it as felt we didn’t have long enough. To be honest we just wanted a fun day/night to eat drink and be merry.
So after a Bloody Mary (my airport drink) and a hot roll at the airport we boarded the plane and less than an hour later we were on the tarmac of what would be a new destination for me. We had pre-booked a taxi through Belfast Airport Taxis and Davy our driver was just outside the terminal waiting for us.
We definitely struck gold with Davy. He was a salt of the earth character and made us laugh all the way on the journey. He asked if we had booked a tour and when we told him no he said he would take us for a shortened version (no cost as he was taking us back the next day so had a good fare).
So, we headed first to the Peace Wall. I think all of us got a little shock as we didn’t realise this was still there to create segregation. The fact that the gates are still locked each night (more to be on the safe side we were told) really affected me and a couple of the other mums. I naively thought the troubles were all in the past and whilst that appears to be the case both sides prefer the security of the gates. It seems surreal that probably less than a mile from the vibrant, inclusive, fun and welcoming city centre is this contrast.
Davy took us to both sides, showing us a number of different murals and the stories behind them. He had many a story to tell and was a brilliant narrator (his blue tongue enhancing the stories). Some of them heart-warming, some shocking, some funny despite the sombre topic but all really making me think and wanting to know more. My Maternal Nan was from Belfast and whilst I never met her it made me wonder if that was the reason she left in the late 40s and never, ever returned.
Just before heading to the hotel Davy made a quick stop and bought us all some Taytos, now I have had them before, but the others not and I love how the Irish swear they are the BEST EVER.
There was no way we were letter our guide off without payment but he seemed genuinely shocked/grateful for the payment. We were all looking forward to the journey home with him.
We quickly checked in to the hotel, stored our bags and decided a little drink of the black stuff was in order before we went for a wander. We headed down the road from the hotel and right opposite the Hotel Europa (the most bombed hotel in Northern Ireland) was a couple of pubs. The Crown Liquor Saloon we had booked for lunch so we opted for next door. A quick half was consumed and then we went for a walk before heading back.
Prior to the trip everyone I spoke to had said the Crown and Liquor was an absolute must on our trip and I can see why. We had booked one of the booths and we were so glad we had he foresight to book as we would never have got in. The pub is gorgeous with booths lining one side and a bar opposite, the ceiling is stunning and the atmosphere electric (even at 1.30 in the afternoon). There is an upstairs but we never made it. The booths are big enough for large groups and plenty of space for the 6 of us. We ordered some food and the fun began. Now I cannot divulge the conversations we had but suffice to say there was lots of laughter, tears of laughter in fact and that was just the start. Read my review of the pub here.
We had the booth for the afternoon and made full use of it – although we did make some friends in the bar – before heading back to the hotel to change.
The night was all about finding some good bars, some great music and enjoying the Belfast Hospitality.
We were not disappointed. We frequented The Dirty Onion, The Harp Bar, The Dark Horse to name a few. We danced to Irish Music and covers sang by great musicians, we were spun around the dancefloor by random strangers/new friends and were regaled with more fun stories. There were lots of groups of people out, hens, stags, birthdays etc but it never felt tacky it just felt like everyone was out for a good time.
We fell in to our beds a lot earlier than expected but what a day we had.
Next morning after a rare lie we headed to St Georges Market. This vast spaces houses craft, clothing, artisan food stalls and all surrounding a central eating area where music will entertain you. You could easily while away hours perusing the stalls, grazing the awesome food from the stalls and listening to some fab music. However, we had decided to book breakfast/brunch/lunch in Georges at the Market Restaurant which just sits on the floor above. Read my review here
We all had a gorgeous food, the restaurant stating that a lot of the food sourced from the market below. Another little mooch around and picking up some local chocolate as a gift for our kiddies and it was time to jump in the taxi back to the airport. Davy was unable to make it but sent an equally great guy in his place who again made the journey back to the airport an enjoyable one. We either got very lucky or Belfast are blessed with brilliant cab drivers.
It was 36 hours of fun, laughter, good food, good wine/cocktails/G&T and company. We all loved Belfast and said we will be back either as Mums on Tour or with our families as there is certainly lots of activities we missed.