We moved to Belfast less than a year ago but apart from discovering this beautiful city, we have not taken many trips around Northern Ireland yet (we did visit the Causeway coast nearly 5 years ago but that’s about it).
We had both our birthdays to celebrate and since we aim for non material gifts, we decided to go and visit Derry/Londonderry over a short weekend for the occasion.
I will skip the part where I tell you where we stayed because I do not feel it is worth a mention.
We did not bring a guidebook with us and instead took note of a couple of places where to eat and a walking tour timetable. For most of the weekend, we took it easy and let our steps guide us, and stopped where we spotted something interesting.
Our guide took us around the 17th century fortified walls. He was really great and clearly very passionate and knowledgeable about the history of his city. Despite being already familiar with some of the recent stories, we definitely learned a lot more about Derry.
After the tour and a lunch stop, we went to the Tower Museum. The permanent exhibition Story of Derry is a great way to learn more about the city from its early settlement to the life during the 20th century. It was really complementary to what we had learned during the walking tour that day.
We stopped by the Guildhall before heading to the train station on Sunday. The building itself is worth a visit for its beautiful stonework, stained glass windows and incredible looking organ (see photo below). There is also an interesting exhibition on the Plantation of Ulster inside.
The whole menu there was appetising and knowing how easy it is to get to Derry/Londonderry from Belfast, I can see myself planning a trip in the future just to try more of the dishes at Pyke 'N' Pommes.
Before heading to the walking tour, we stopped at Primrose on the Quay (110-114 Strand Road) for breakfast. We walked in just in time as it was starting to rain outside and were immediately welcomed by the sight of delicious looking desserts behind glass. Despite the temptation of getting cake for breakfast, we stuck to our plans to get something warm and quick before heading back in the cold weather in time for the walk. I had a breakfast bap which consisted of a fluffy buttery brioche roll with bacon. It was simple but perfect for what I had in mind.
For dinner on the Saturday evening, I had booked a table at Browns in Town (21 Strand Road). This central casual restaurant was perfect for the occasion we were celebrating. We both had a 2-course menu and the highlights were definitely the starters. I had the handmade pumpkin ravioli with chestnut, sage and spinach. It was very flavoursome with a good choice of seasonal ingredients. E. had the pan seared scallops with black pudding, onion and brown butter. We are both really fond of this delicate seafood and really appreciated how well it was cooked.
Browns in Town caters for everybody and has an interesting separate vegan/vegetarian menu which looked very appetising too. Altogether, we had a delicious and relaxing meal, exactly what we needed after a day walking a lot around the city in the cold.
Once in Derry/Londonderry train station, a bus shuttle can take you to the city centre for free.
I believe taking the bus is faster but it will certainly not match the coastal scenery as you leave Derry/Londonderry by train.
Book read: American Dirt, by Jeanine Cummins