This week our guest Discover Belfast blogger is Brittany Breslin. Some of you may already know Brittany as our food reviewer with the BBeats column. But today we discover Belfast through the eyes of an American!
Over to you Brittany…….
Having been transplanted to Belfast from the states nearly four years ago, I have a unique perspective on our amazing city that some other may not have the privilege of having. Having spent much of my time in the lead up to the Big Move (and all holidays home since then) explaining to friends and family that, really, Belfast isn’t as bad as it may seem in the media, I’ve developed a quick list of go-to reasons why Belfast is one fabulously underrated little city – and why I am happy to call this place home.
Belfast is the perfect size. At least twice daily I hear someone exclaim ‘Northern Ireland is too small!’ Coming from small town America, population 2,000 and later moving to Washington, DC, population 650,000, I think Belfast offers the perfect compromise between metropolitan and local. As far as shopping, going out and – my favourite past time – dining in amazing restaurants, Belfast packs a powerful little punch, but after only two years living here I still manage to bump into people I know in City Centre, giving the city a friendly and approachable vibe. The approachable size of Belfast leads me to…
The amazing restaurant scene. Recent years have seen Belfast’s restaurant scene diversify significantly, and, because of the amazingly ‘doable’ size of Belfast mentioned above, part of me thinks it might be possible to try every eatery in Belfast at some stage. (Do I sense a #BBeats challenge coming up?) Favourite Belfast eating establishments include: Howard St (always top of the list), Deanes at Queen’s, Shed, The National, Little Wing, Boojum – the list goes on – and maybe someday I’ll conquer them all.*
A bar for every mood. Closely related to my previous point, Belfast’s nightlife offers something for every taste and occasion, from swanky cocktails in the Merchant to a night on the tiles living it up to some classic 90s anthems at Lavery’s. I’m still trying hard to recreate the best night out ever, which happened two years ago following an impromptu pop into the Hudson Bar and ended with an intimate and amazingly fun boogie by to a fab folk / jazz band with 30 new BFFs. There was an overwhelming sense of community and laidback-ness which I loved about that night and have tried and tried to make happen again with no success. The best nights in town always happen unexpectedly, and as quickly as they started, they end at 1 with the polite hum of bouncers telling you to shove off or else. Just kidding. No really.
Belfast doesn’t try too hard. Have you been to Temple Bar in Dublin recently? A night out there feels like a combination of a surreal Disney World ride and the New York City St Patrick’s Day parade – a sea of drunken American tourists, plastic shamrocks, and traditional music blasted as an ear splitting volume. The authenticity of Belfast has always been refreshing to me. While Dublin may come to the party in head-to-toe fake tan and stilettos, Belfast is the casual friend who draws interest by letting you go to them. In my first two years of living in Belfast I was asked on nearly a daily basis – usually by taxi men – why on Earth I’ve chosen this God forsaken place as my new home. To be honest? Because it’s an awesome place to live! Stop selling yourself short, Belfast. But please, don’t let your head too big. You don’t want to risk turning into your tacky friend Dublin. Nobody wants that.
Language. I love words. And it wasn’t until I moved to Belfast that I was made aware of the considerable lack of colourful options in my existing vocabulary. Like, those moments where you’ve done something so grim that you’re beyond embarrassed? There’s a word for that! Scundered. Or when you’re so dejected that you feel someone has pulled your insides out? Gutted. Duh! Why didn’t these words exist to me before living here?! Other colourful Norn Iron favourites (that can be shared on a family-friendly medium): ‘bin lid,’ ‘melter,’ and, an all-time favourite, ‘Do you think I floated up the Lagan in a bubble?’ Also, the fact that a garbage can with wheels has an official name, wheelie-bin, delights me to this very day.