Other than going to a gig and staying in a plush hotel, we didn’t really have any plans for our Belfast stay. I’m always happiest wandering about cities, lingering at local coffee stops and hunting down independent bookshops. It’s lovely to have a weekend without a to do list.
Belfast feels just the right size to be able to get a feel for the place after a morning of ambling. We visited the cathedral (stained glass, and mosaics well worth a peek) and the oldest library in Belfast, complete with wonky wooden stairs and grumpy men peering disdainfully at us from ancient leather armchairs.
This city is full of varied architecture: tall old brick, curved arches, ornate cornices, and square stocky buildings that gave some corners an air of Boston, MA about them.
In our limited flight carry-on allowance, Tom chose running shoes over camera. So we traded in photography for street-pounding, and discovered the botanical gardens. A cold, clear, easy Sunday morning is perfect for a wander round a park, and the place was buzzing with other people who had the same idea.
The palm house was a strange pocket of tropical warmth in the middle of a chilly November day. It felt delicious to have aimless time to wander, smell the damp earthy greeness, look up at these old paned frames and imagine people doing the same almost 200 years ago.
So, thank you The National, for making your only UK weekend gig in a city that I’ve never been to, and giving me the excuse for a weekend of wandering!