I’m Alexandra. An American girl living in Dublin, Ireland. I honestly document my adventures in travel, food, beauty, and expat life on a budget.

An Unusual Day Trip to Belfast

An Unusual Day Trip to Belfast

This past weekend my boyfriend (let’s call him "P" from now on) and I went to Belfast. We didn’t go for any touristy reasons but instead we went for the Selfbuild Ireland exhibition. House prices in Dublin are astronomical so we are exploring alternative ways of obtaining a (possible) forever home.

  Bus Éireann departure boards 

In all my time in Ireland I had never taken the bus from Dublin to another city until the trip to Belfast. Bus travel in America is not really a thing since most of us have cars, and to be completely honest, I was always a little nervous of using it as a mode of travel since I never had before and never really knew many people who had. I only ended up booking the bus over the train because their times were more suitable for the purpose of our trip, visiting for the day, and cost nearly half the price of the train. The buses were clean and the seats were comfortable. After my experience with Bus Éireann I will happily use them in the future and recommend them to you if you are living in Ireland or coming for a visit and looking to see different parts of the country affordably.

Belfast City Hall grounds 
Belfast City Hall

Once we arrived in Belfast our initial plan was to head straight to the exhibition but the weather was so gorgeous (a rarity in Ireland!) so we decided to walk from the Europa Bus Station to the Titanic Exhibition Centre. On our way, we walked past Belfast City Hall, through the shopping district, and eased into our final destination of the Titanic Quarter. You can do a whole day of just shopping in Belfast – trust me, I have done it before!

As it was such a beautiful day we ate our homemade sandwiches outside by the boats. I will typically make us sandwiches on most holidays we go on purely to save money. My mom did it with my family growing up and a sandwich never killed anyone, so, to have more money for nice dinners and drinks, we skip a local lunch most of the time. And let’s be real, it isn’t like Belfast is known for their world class dining so I don’t think we were missing out on much by having a sandwich from the house.

The Dock Café Honesty Box

There were a number of cafes and coffee shops by where we were sitting so we opted for a coffee in The Dock Café. This eclectic coffee shop, filled with local artwork, “exists to build Life in the Titanic Quarter – heart and soul amidst the concrete and steel of this fantastic new development in Belfast’s historic shipyard”, as their website says. Basically, the way the café works is there is no set price on drinks and pastries, they trust the customer to make a donation to their ‘Honesty Box’. I had heard of cafes like this but never actually visited one. To be ‘candid’ with you, the coffee was horrible and I do not like giving money to religious organizations. Had I known what The Dock Café was about before we were in, I wouldn’t have gone in. That said, the environment is nice and it doesn’t push religion on you in any way.

We finally made our way to the Selfbuild Ireland, you know, the original purpose of our trip to Belfast? We attended a couple of talks and walked around the stalls of the exhibitors. The talks were extremely insightful and will be of use once we do decide which route we are going for a home. I found a few exhibitors I really liked as well for kitchens and front doors. Boring, I know, but stuff to be considered at a future date! A much, much future date. If you are looking to do a self-build, add an extension or any renovations to your current home, I would recommend checking Selfbuild Ireland out.  The live exhibitions are done now but their website is worth a look.

Sinners Welcome sign at The Spaniard 

The exhibition didn’t end up taking as much time as we had thought it would so we headed toward back to where our dinner reservation was. We stumbled upon The Spaniard and ending up having a couple of beers while listening to Jackie Rainey in the upstairs bar. Now, I think the pints were a bit pricey for getting average beers, but the environment was great and we were lucky enough to get a seat so I was happy to kill time here before dinner. Check it out if you’re in Belfast and find yourself a little thirsty!

Jackie Rainey playing at The Spaniard 
Pints of Guinness and Carlsberg at The Spaniard 

I had been to Belfast a couple of times before and always said I didn’t like it. I don’t think I really gave it a good go before and interacted with the city the way I did this time. While the purpose of the trip wasn’t a traditional one and we veered from our plans a bit, we still had a great day. Sometimes though, the best days come from straying off the path and not sticking to rigid plans. I had the opportunity to move to Belfast over Dublin and while my opinion is fonder of Belfast now, I definitely made the right choice by moving to Dublin. Have you ever been to Belfast or Northern Ireland? What did you think of it?

I will do a separate post on where we had dinner so keep an eye out for that soon!

I want to hear from you! If you have any specific questions about my experiences in Belfast or have any suggestions for me the next time I am there, please feel free to contact me. You can leave me a comment below, send me a DM on Instagram, message me on Facebook or send me a tweet on Twitter.  Don’t forget, you can follow me on Bloglovin’ too!

*all images original to Candid Alexandra






February 2018 Favourites

February 2018 Favourites

Dining in Dublin: Fia

Dining in Dublin: Fia