Belfast, Northern Ireland – Part 1

ICC in Belfast

I’ve been to Belfast / NI, about a half a dozen times the last decade, for a variety of reasons; travel, golf, to see friends, etc, and each time it appears to be more vibrant, cosmo, livelier and “better” if one can use that word.

The Garrick

For today, I decided to have a walk around in the evening with my partner, and after leaving the ICC, we headed for a pub that we’ve been to before, The Garrick.

What a selection of beer, and a simply excellent, hearty menu. Ah tradition, I love it. Equally, there must have been an Erdinger bier promotion (both here and other places in Belfast), as the blau und weiss colours of Bavaria were everywhere.

From here, we had a stroll to Belfast City Hall, a hall that makes the one in Glasgow, look like a dump! I noted this to one of the very kind, security guards inside, and surprisingly, he told me that, that was the second time he had heard someone tell him that, on the day! Whilst inside, we naturally signed the condolence book(s) for Her Majesty, the Queen.

From here, again, we went to a familiar pub, and favourite of mine, The Crown Liquor Saloon, an antique of a bar owned by the National Trust.

A pub that always seems to have a decent pint of real ale on the menu. And equally, seems to always be packed with tourists.

Part 2 to follow, one can hardly wait!

CB

Month Ahead – Various past trips but also a recent one to Northern Ireland

Finally this month, with enough time, will return to blog about recent trips to Germany, America, London for Wimbledon and maybe a few more (Ed: Didn’t you just get back from St Andrews, Scotland, again?).

Belfast City Hall

But the last trip, was a quick 6 days to Northern Ireland, where I stayed in Belfast and had a day trip to the wonderful county of Armagh.

This was probably the sixth or seventh time the last 10 years for me to travel there. And I’ve always wondered just why, more people do not do the voyage? The flight was only about 25 minutes (!) from Glasgow – it literally takes off, and then sets down, stressing the ease of making the trip there.

And speaking of Ireland, both North and South, when back, I decided to go “Oirish” and buy a different type of porridge!

I’ve seen these Flahavan’s for some time, and felt that they would be too expensive when compared to the bog standard, dreadful things that usually come in a plastic sack.

Well, with the recent inflation, they aren’t any more and I can only say, that their “quick oats” design is a winner! In fact, you don’t even need a microwave, boiling water does just fine.

But talking about Northern Ireland, as usual, the people there were incredibly friendly, whether in Belfast or in the country and this week, will put several entries on Belfast, the Churches there, the Titanic Museum (where I had a wonderful dinner), and various things that I encountered there.

CB

Glasgow; various eateries; Nostrana & the Finnieston Fez

So I finally tried, after it was only open a few weeks, Nostrana, a new Italian place in Hyndland (just north of Soul Space in the link), Glasgow.

Nostrana, Hyndland, Glasgow

It was nice, very friendly service (my date spelled their coffee, and they were just SO helpful with them, even giving a new one FOC!), with food that at first seemed “small”, but was huge.

Handcrafted pizza

As usual, I felt that a normal dish would not be enough, wrong again! I ordered some bread, whilst the plus 1 chose their salad; both ample enough.

Well worth it, but no doubt during the winter, it’d be desirable to sit inside.

4/5

This brings us to the Finnieston Fez, located on the eastern edge of Finnieston, in the West End of Glasgow.

To be honest, this was a surprise, though I had walked past before, and always had a hankering to sit in the window seat. I shall return.

While inside, I was literally the only one there (later there were more, almost packed), and was confronted with several very lovely people. What a joy, they WANTED to be there! Isn’t that a good feeling, I was not intruding.

The menu is a Moroccan type of Mediterranean thing, and I opted for something simple – a Falafel Panini, and just had to have the sweet, traditional, Moroccan tea – glad I did. And for it to be served in a traditional setting, perfect.

As for the Panini, it was flavourable, and not overbearing. The tee-pee type of container contained slight chillied olives.

I will return.

4/5

CB

Cavavin, Hyndland – Cafe’ish & Wine Shop – Wonderful surprise

Cavavin – Street Wine Bar with nibbles

Cavavin has been here at the junction of Hyndland Road and Clarence Drive, only for about two years plus? Not too sure, but recently, or the last few months, they’ve offered a street service, though this may have been here longer (they also have a very small seated area inside, near the beer section in the back)?

Equally, it’s possible to have small side plates with your obscur’ish wine; the usual ones though quite delicious – humous, olives, etc. I had the hummus and pitta bread, which fitted perfectly (some portion!)

I hardly think this is bandwagon jumping, as there are simply not enough wine bars / wine and snacks type of places here; Lord, do we really need more cafes?

Though naturally, it is possible to get a coffee, tea and even a hot chocolate here as well.

I certainly look forward to the winter, when I’ll definitely be here on the odd mid-week evenings.

CB

Nowita Ice Cream – Hyndland Street, Partick, Glasgow

Part of Hyndland Street, Partick, Glasgow

What a cool little street this is. Maybe it’s the true diversity of the shops / businesses / cafes here; or maybe it’s that there are no chains?

Hey, I LOVE big chains, but at times, I’ve no time for them; the monotony, the sameness, etc; though I do love the prices.

For example, we will have another new business here (above), Nowita Ice Cream, that will be an ice cream shop / parlour – a welcome addition. Considering we have two on the nearby Byres Road, that have seemed to stay in business during the pandemic; here’s hoping this one can as well.

A new Nowita Ice Cream café

I’ve not heard of them before, so maybe they are a local business? We wish them luck.

CB

More Thornwood, Glasgow – Amo’s Cafe, Dumbarton Road

Amo’s, Thornwood, Glasgow

What a surprise for us here, as we were looking for the always reliable Tulipane; no longer to be seen?

So wondered in here, and found it to be French? Maybe I am wrong, but after we finished, had a delightful conversation on Steve McQueen, and in particular Papillon (co-starred with Dustin Hoffman) – not the absolutely dreadful remake in 2017, with Charlie Hunnam! Maybe I will read the original novel, as suggested.

The eggs and avo were the hit

Have to say, everything was made from scratch, enough time to settle down and actually chat, and would be back.

CV

This week; the Thornwood area of West Glasgow, a newish café and various wanderings & more!

Thornwood, used to be out west of the West End of Glasgow, or at least that is how it seemed to me; even more west than Partick, but not anymore.

There are many newish restaurants and cafes in this area. And even some peculiar street art:

Royal Mail in Thornwood, Dumbarton Road, Glasgow

What a beautiful thing to have! And so far, it has not really been vandalised. Long may that continue

How intricate

CB

What a lovely, trad place; Glasgow Central Hotel, City Centre, Glasgow

I’ve been here before, and after a recent BBQ at my bit, someone had the nerve to say that it is just so old-fashioned and out of date?

Really? They’ve overhauled this place some time ago, and now it not only is modern, but fits its place that it is trying to do. Our very own Ritz, if I may add!


We were there for tea and cake, but the design, service and accoutrements were brilliant – linen serviettes. The view was perfect for not only people watching, but also to see the piano players, hitting the plastic ivory.

Various internal shots of the Cafe

Even the food was class, with a pink cheesecake chosen for me.

It seemed to me, that this is primarily known and used as a bar / champagne bar (its title), but whoa to be had, with just a little walking around the city centre.

They even had a collection of photos from previous stayers at the accommodation in its heyday; ranging from Roy Rogers to Gene Kelly; though I did not see the photo of Diego Maradona, from I believe 1979.

CB

Portugal – Part 3, Lisbon Centre (Alfama), food, some notes . . .

After settling into my hotel, and having a overnight sleep, tried out the breakfast; but in this case, there was none? Hence, decided to go around the corner to buy some croissants, etc.

I found a metro market called Auchan – which is actually a French based shop, and noticed one or two peculiar but helpful things.

Order / Collect – Interesting Idea

One was the ability to order and then collect your food in an area at the very front of the entrance. I know there are shops here who do this, but maybe not to this detail; completely in English also!

The other was some bizarre (apologies for the black & white photo) chart on the wall at the entrance, describing something? Ah, the French strike again.

Instructions?

After this and some work, did a wander downtown, mainly to meet up with family in the Alfama region, of the city centre.

If you haven’t been here before, it’s a maze of hills, restaurants, yellow trams and tourists! OTOH, it is brilliant! Just go for a wander here, you CAN NOT go wrong.

Here, I walked by the coast and then by several places (Maritime Museum and a Taylors Port tasting room), that I will save for another day. BTW, the weather was awful, I seriously thought it was going to snow!

After this, I had a simply wonderful meal at one of the hundreds of places to choose from.

Restaurant in Alfama

Afterwards, used the metro to return to my hotel, and loved some of the wallpaper.

Lisbon Underground

CB

Entertainments – Part 1; Wine Tasting, Hyndland Fox, West End, Glasgow

The great (now dead) Graham Greene once said about some of this books, that they were “entertainments” – there only for pleasure, entertaining and not to be looked at as great works of art.


One of these, Our Man in Havana, was actually superb, and described the early communist government in Cuba, worth a read!

First course!

So when I was out the other night, and attempted to find a restaurant, I happened to wander by The Hyndland Fox (again!), and noted that they had a wine night with tastings on – who could resist.

Second course

Whilst there at the entrance, we were greeted by staff, who after informing us of the night, then ushered us to our unreserved seats, exactly when the talks (between the courses) started.

Cheese course

A Frenchman was there to talk about this new “brand” or company from France known as Rift, with the idea of producing completely sulphur-free wine.

Dessert

The tasting consisted of 4 courses, with an accompanying wine for each course, that consisted of:

  • Salmon
  • Duck & Potatoes
  • Cheese & Homemade Biscuits
  • Sorbet & Pate

With the highlight, being both the first and final courses. I’ve never tasted sorbet so rich, with the accompanying “pate” being unbelievable, like a candied caramel.

Interesting that I have been here before several times and it always strikes me as if they are trying to do something different; they’ve a comedy club here as well. So I was glad I walked about to find this place. I only wish that I had known about this night before; perhaps they have an email list that I could join?

But yet again, it’s another (IMO) world class foodie thing, right here in Glasgow, with the food and service exceptional, and naturally quite friendly.

Excellent

CB