I managed to get around to doing pretty much everything I wanted to when we visited Ireland this time around, apart from the £6 lobster and chips but I had so much other great food that it really doesn't matter.
A day trip to Belfast was big on the cards after visiting in a rush when we were in Northern Ireland last year. This time there was no plane to catch and no hurry, we just had to be back by 7 for Moon's Nana to give us our dinner.
I kind of wish we'd picked a clearer day to go, although it was sunny and warm, the whole city seemed to be enshrouded in a pretty thick mist. It didn't ruin our day though and we were still able to have a great time exploring new places.
First up was Belfast Castle, it's more of a fancy hotel really but it's open to the public and has a beautiful (cat-themed) garden as well as (probably, there was too much mist) a view of the whole city.
Posing with cat topiary, naturally.
There's a view there somewhere(!)
There's also a walk up to the Belfast Caves but it seemed like too much of a hike for such a warm day and we weren't very well prepared, plus there was food to be eaten and the rest of the city to mosey around.
Still, it was pretty special to explore even part of a woodland knowing that there's a bustling city working away just a couple of miles away down the hill.
Belfast Garden's Cat Garden is named as such for good luck and it's said as long as there are cats at Belfast Castle it will always be safe. The garden was inspired by a white cat incidentally, which naturally held my attention and there are 9 little tributes dotted around - I think I managed to snap them all!
Scouring Trip Advisor, it wasn't easy to make a decision for lunch but in the end I chose The (wonderful) Barking Dog. The decision was based completely on the name but their simple tapas menu and trendy interior meant it held up well with all the other wonderful food we stuffed our faces with during our trip.
The rest of the afternoon was spent having a potter and getting a bit stressed out about getting lost. After deciding the Titanic Quarter didn't have much to offer we spent our last hour in the City Centre, which is wonderful if you know what you're doing and where you're going - we didn't.
I got a kind of London stress-out but once I got my bearings it was fine and we were able to find Victoria Square, arguably 'just a shopping centre' but it has a great viewing platform at the top so you can look out on the whole city, even on misty days.
My want to see the view outweighed my fear of heights by the smidgiest smidge.
Back on solid ground \o/
Having mainly spent time in the suburbs when visiting Belfast when I was little, it's strange to visit a city I've been to so many times before** but see places and do things that I have almost no connection with.
Still, as a city, Belfast has a lot going for it and I still find myself thinking that I could spend a lot more time there.
**The non-Chinese half of my family is from Northern Ireland, my grandparents are from Belfast and my dad, as well as a couple of my uncles were born there. They didn't move over to England until my dad was around 10. We used to go to Belfast to visit my great-grandma all the time before she passed away, now we haven't got really any family in Northern Ireland as most of them are here in England but there's always talk of going back over together some time soon.