Adventures in Northern Ireland, Part 1 – Belfast (or first impressions of a lone traveller)

I haven’t blogged for a month but I am now about to make up for that dear readers!  On Tuesday I arrived home after a very lovely week in Northern Ireland, which I am going to share with you in several parts!

My holiday began and ended in Belfast, with the beautiful coastal districts of Larne and Glenarm in the middle.  I am not really a sunbathing holiday type person, but I do love to be near the sea.  I also enjoy exploring, soaking up the atmosphere and discovering all the exciting things the place I am visiting has to offer.

I had never been anywhere Irish before so not only was my holiday a perfect mix of city and coast but it was also a great introduction to Northern Ireland.  I am already planning (albeit it vaguely in my head!) my next trip, which will also include Southern Ireland too, I can’t wait to explore Dublin!

If you are thinking of visiting Belfast it is very easy to get from Belfast International Airport to the city centre.  Bus number 300 runs regularly from the airport to the city, a return ticket costs £10 and is valid for a month.

Here is part one of my trip…

Belfast City Hall

Belfast is a fascinating place with a developing arts/culture scene and amazing architecture.  The above photo shows Belfast City Hall, which is one of my favourite Belfast buildings. You can watch a short video about its history here.

Although the city is well known for its violent history it is working hard to change that perception.  It is a busy city with a friendly atmosphere and much to see and do, I travelled alone and felt it was an easy and relaxed place to be on my own in.

I am always happy to visit places by myself, but have never actually been on a ‘proper’ holiday alone.  However, it was something I really enjoyed as I was able to please myself and take my time.  I realise I probably come across as anti-social or selfish but I prefer to think of it as independent 🙂  I also kept a journal as I explored, stopping to write in it many times, I also took copious amounts of photos!

Belfast was my base for a day and a half during the first part of my trip, and another half day before I came home.  Despite that I still feel there are things I missed, it has left me wanting to explore it further and enjoy more of what it can offer.  In these posts I hope to give you a flavour of my experience there and leave you also wanting to explore.

As I was on a tight budget for my trip I was booked in to a city centre Hostel which was a first for me, never having stayed in a hostel before.  I wasn’t sure what to expect but for a first experience I have to say that The Linen House Hostel was a good introduction.  At first I felt a bit intimidated as I wasn’t sure what to expect, then I just saw it as a new experience to be excited about!  Later on it also occurred to me that staying in a hostel is just like house sharing (which I have done a lot of in my time) but on a larger scale!  Also, what a great way to meet new people if I wanted to! I enjoyed the eclectic mix of people it attracted.

It is a relaxed environment with friendly reception staff and lots of information about trips and places to visit on hand.  The kitchen and eating areas were very clean and three fridges to ensure everyone can store their food adequately.  Guests are encouraged to write their name on their bags of food, their room number and their check out date.  As a hostel novice I was sceptical about this working but I had no problems with it and it is a great way to budget, rather than eating out which can add expense to a holiday.

I wasn’t feeling adventurous enough to share a dorm room with complete strangers so I had booked myself a room of my own, which was still good value at £20 a night.  It was a large room with a large bed, bunk bed (and a cot!), a tv and a sink. I enjoyed staying there and would recommend it, although if sharing showers/toilets leaves you a bit squeamish and you don’t like noise, then staying in a hostel is probably not for you! Me?  I’m planning on doing it a lot more.

Once I had wandered around the hostel getting my bearings I decided to go out for a walk, buy food and take in my surroundings.  This brings me to another of my favourite buildings, which is home to a well known supermarket!  The photo below is the shop front.

By the end of my first day I felt very comfortable in Belfast and the hostel.  As I had taken a large ruck sack, instead of a suitcase I also began to feel like I was a proper traveller and liked that feeling.  I am nearly 40 and haven’t really travelled very much, perhaps I am about to have a mid-life crisis which involves travel, haha!

The next day I planned to visit the Titanic Quarter of Belfast, which is the subject of my next post.

I would love to hear any comments you have about Belfast if you have been, or travelling alone 🙂

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About Maria Explores...

Blogger and Freelance Writer
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