About a year ago, my co-worker and officemate turned in her chair, swiveling towards me with an air of importance, and told me that she was moving to Northern Ireland.
I was a bit surprised. Not that she was going someplace awesome, but that she was moving to Belfast. It was not a city or country that I was familiar with.
But now I get it.
On Friday afternoon, I touched down in Belfast after a long, sweaty and fatiguing day of travel. And, I was instantly at peace. You know how some places just soothe the soul? I think that Northern Ireland is that sort of place.
My friend who lives here was such a gracious and welcoming host [reminding me of the type of hospitality I aspire towards] and the city was full of old-world charm. Here are some photos of the downtown Belfast area.
[Northern Ireland (NI) celebrates May Day as national holiday, and we happened to arrive two days before, so that weekend was full of festivities and lots and lots of people]
We also visited St. George’s market, an indoor market with handmade wares, including artwork and food. I was enchanted and wanted to purchase everything. I didn’t. Well, I did buy a raspberry scone and small painting.
[I didn’t try this paella, but I wish I had. Their seafood is awesome]
[This gentlemen sawed off a wedge of cheese for us, and it was the best ever]
[This is my friend Kate]
After marching around the city for a day and a half, we visited Kate’s church in the countryside just outside of Belfast. I left my camera in the car and didn’t take pictures during the service out of respect, but I would like to discuss briefly. First, it was wonderful. Very heartfelt and simple, but not due to lack of resources or opportunity. It was simple because that was the spirit of the congregation, and it was warm and genuine. Second, the people were gracious and kind, so friendly. I have been enthralled by the Northern Ireland accent and choice of words, so much that I find myself forgetting to respond, because I simply want to absorb it all.
The sermon on 1 Peter was timely, and discussed putting on a new self such as you would put on a jacket. Fitting, considering that I feel like this trip has been gradually making me new from the inside out.
I love Jesus.
Directly after church, we hopped a train and subsequently a bus to the Northern Coast. Our destination? Giants Causeway, a picturesque village perched atop the cliffs overlooking the sea.
I was craving nature in a way some crave oxygen, desperate to escape the bustling city and ease the restlessness of my soul.
It did not disappoint.
Oh, yes, I will show you photos of the coastline. But I got temporarily distracted while remembering how delicious my homemade seafood chowder, wheaton bread, and Irish butter was.
I’m back on track.
That’s the Causeway hotel on the far left, where I am staying tonight. They have amazing Sticky Toffee Pudding]
We ended up on a beach with a few castles. It was every bit as chilly and windy as it appears in this photos.
Places like this are so inspiring. My soul feels rejuvenated and my mind is motivated. I want to write a novel or a song, or paint a canvas.
I am so unbelievably grateful for the opportunity to have a trip like this. The past 8 days have been beyond anything I could have hoped for. I can’t believe I still have 5 more.
For tonight, I’ll snuggle down into my bed and listen to the wind as it howls outside.