Visiting Belfast: Shopping and sight-seeing over the border

If you don’t normally go up the North for shopping or sight-seeing, you’re missing out. Recently I went on a weekend break to Belfast with my boyfriend and we had a brilliant time.

I’ve posted about visiting Belfast before but I spent less than a day there. This time around I spent more time in the city centre and was there for a full weekend.

I have only been to Northern Ireland four times including the last trip which is quite embarrassing!

Where to go shopping:

Belfast has two shopping centres, Castlecourt and Victoria Square. Castlecourt is slightly old-fashioned but has some decent shops, including a nice Debenhams.

Victoria Square is a more modern building and has all the high-street shops such as Topshop, H & M and River Island.

The Topshop is massive and I could’ve spent all day there! But that would’ve been the end of my relationship.. 😛

On the street there’s a massive Stradivarius (one of only three in Ireland), Zara, Primark etc.

What to buy: 

I always buy cosmetics in the North as they are a good bit cheaper. I picked up a new bronzer in Superdrug and got my eyebrows threaded there for only £5!

I also bought Queen of Shaves shaving gel for £2.99 (This is very gentle on your skin but can’t find it in ROI anymore). It was about €8 down here.

Nivea night cream was only £1.99 which was also good value, it’s about €5 here.

Perhaps VAT is to blame but when you factor in exchange rates, we seem to pay a lot more for clothes in shops like Topshop and River Island in the ROI.

For instance, this purple frill jumper was £15 on sale from £30 in Topshop. It ws €42 full price in ROI stores.

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Primark is similar value to what you get at home, one pair of nude tights were £1, a nail varnish £1.50 etc.

The Primark was undergoing a bit of a makeover and was VERY busy when we were there.

Overall the stock in Primark was only OK but the store isn’t the biggest.

 I bought a pair of Onitsuka Tigers for my boyfriend in Office, they were £65 with student discount.

Name brand runners aren’t much cheaper than at home.

Surprisingly I didn’t buy myself any shoes! Nor did I find a dress for my graduation but there’s plenty of time yet.

Bargain shopping/Charity shops

I visited two charity shops and both were pretty disappointing. If anyone can recommend a good one, please let me know.

Vintage shops

There are a few quirky vintage shops around Belfast and my favourite one was Octopus’s Garden on Wellington Street.

It sells records as well as deadly vintage threads and is a good spot for nabbing a band t-shirt.

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Markets

On Sunday, we visited St. George’s Market which reminded me of a smaller version of Spitalfields market in London.

We treated ourselves to a hearty Ulster fry and perused all the goodies the market had to offer.

There were loads of food stalls including some very tasty cupcakes, homewares, bric-a-brac, vintage records and jewellery.

I’d highly recommend this market to everyone, it’s an absolute gem.

Cash or card?

I brought cash which I’d changed commission free in the post office. If you pay in card in the North, there is a small fee, about 14 cent per transaction.

Withdrawing sterling with an Irish card from an ATM will incur a fee of at least €3. Ulster Bank customers can withdraw free from NatWest, EasyCash and RBS however.

Bag charges

FYI, there’s now a plastic bag levy in the UK, retailers must a charge a minimum of £0.05 per bag. Something to bear in mind if you are buying lots.

Where to eat/stay/have fun

Besides shopping, we did enjoy the sights of Belfast, including the Titanic experience which was fantastic. Give yourself a minimum of two hours if you are going here.

It’s an interactive exhibition and I learned so much, not merely about the Titanic but also the history of Belfast.

titanic

We stayed in Jury’s Inn in the heart of the city and our room was gorgeous.

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On Saturday night we had dinner in Deanes Love Fish restaurant and the food was DELICIOUS! Hands down, one of the nicest restaurants I’ve ever been in.

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We also went for a drink in The Crown Saloon, which is one of the most popular bars in Belfast.

The beautiful Victorian decor has been preserved from the intricately-carved wooden booths and ceiling designs, to stained glass windows and funky floor tiles.

Unfortunately it was too busy to sit down.

Another watering-hole we visited was White’s Tavern which is one of Belfast’s oldest pubs. This is a nice little pub to relax and rest the legs in between shopping and sight-seeing.

Finally, City Hall is a must if you like architecture.

city-hall

 FYI, this was not a sponsored post.

Hope you all enjoyed this post, feel free to leave me a comment below.

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Edel

London Calling

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I’m just back from a great holiday in London. I love London and have documented my travels here before but every time I go there it’s a different  experience.  I arrived on Friday and was quite tired from travelling but managed to drag myself out to Oxford Street to shop. (I know what a hero…)

Ah, Oxford Street! I love Oxford Street, it’s like a pilgrimage to me but it is so crazy! Luckily I’m not daunted by this and set about shopping. The two main places to go to on Oxford Street are Primark/Penneys and Topshop. However they are both so packed and busy that its difficult to negotiate your way through either at peak times.

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I’d often attempted to go into the flagship Topshop store before but each time left because it was too busy. For once it wasn’t too busy and I was able to look around. This Topshop is more like a department store with loads of concessions from funky jewellery brands such as Ottoman Hands, phone accessories, vintage handbags, a piercing parlour, makeup, a hair braiding service, a bubble tea and a cupcake stand. Oh yeah and clothes and shoes also…three floors of them! Here’s some of the items which caught my eye and some of the new season stock.

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Turkish inspired jewellery from Ottoman Hands.

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Vintage jewellery

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Vintage handbags and scarves

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Slogan handbags

With regard to autumn/winter clothing, there’s lots of suede, earthy colours, furry waistcoats and 70’s style clothing. This blue suede mini skirt is really adorable.

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Topshop’s mannequin display is always creative. This vegetation background is really compliments the clothing and I love the long blonde dreads on the mannequin.

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The next stop was obviously Primark where I bought some great holiday clothing. I’ll be featuring all these in an upcoming post.

On Saturday I spent some time at the National History Museum and the V & A. Both museums were near my hostel and easily accessible by the Underground.

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National History museum.

The National History museum was full of kids on holiday so I left pronto but the V & A was a lot calmer. The Victoria and Albert museum describes itself as the world’s greatest museum of art and design.This musuem is a must for any fashion lover as they have amazing textile and fashion exhibitions. The last time I was here, I saw Grace Kelly’s wardrobe and their Alexander Mc Queen exhibition broke attendance records! Best of all most of the museum is free however special exhibitions charge a small fee.

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The V & A museum.

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Inside the V & A.

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Christian Dior clothing on display at the V & A.

Currently, their exhibition “Shoes, Pleasure and Pain” is on display. Being a shoe obsessive I had to see it! This exhibition explores the erotic connotations with shoes and feet and the role of the shoe in different cultures, movies, folk-lore and fairy tales. Every type of shoe imaginable from different eras was on display from the red slippers in the “Wizard of Oz”, the Cinderella glass slipper designed by Swarovski, shoes made for bound feet to Christian Louboutins. Even the famous blue Vivienne Westwood platforms which caused Naomi Campbell to fall on the runway were on display.

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Some of my favourite shoes in the exhibition: clockwise from top Prada “Tail Light sandals, Indian toe post wedding shoes and the iconic Vivienne Westwood platforms.

I also went to the Spitalfields Market in the east of London which is a real hipster neighbourhood, Notting Hill and spent a few days outside London by the sea. I’m going to devote another post to these adventures and look forward to writing about them soon! I’m also looking forward to doing another travel post on my holiday in Palma de Mallorca. Thank you for reading as always and to like my Facebook page just click here.

Edel

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