Because we had a free day to ourselves in Belfast, and because we had covered a fair bit of ground the first two days we were here, we allowed ourselves the luxury of a bit of a sleep-in! After brek we headed down to St. George's Market, a farmers market, much like the ones we have at home, with all manner of fresh produce, meat, fish, food vendors as well as a plethora of artists, artisans and crafts people. We wandered around for a while taking in the sights and sounds and smells - not unlike our own Strathcona market!
After that, we headed over to Victoria Square, a huge shopping complex in the middle of the city centre. Its claim to fame is a huge glass domed structure which you ride up to in an elevator, and which affords you a panoramic view of the city below. It was quite spectacular!
Deciding to forego any shopping, we then set out to find "The Entries". These are a series of historical narrow alleyways that join two major streets and which have various establishments along them, often pubs. We located three of them: Pottinger's Entry, Joy's Entry and Wineseller Entry. It is in the latter that you find the city's oldest pub, White's Tavern, which dates back to 1630!
Back to the market to grab a bite of lunch. Irv had a great chowder, while I opted for a cherry scone and a delectable treat from one of the sweet sellers. Oh, and I managed to find my traditional Christmas ornament and my souvenir earrings here as well!
We walked back to the hotel and then headed back out aiming for the Autumn Fair that we had seen advertised when we first arrived, and which they had been setting up in the Botanic Garden when we strolled through.
But first we decided to try and find Friars Bush Graveyard, said to be the oldest graveyard in Belfast. We did find it, but the gate appeared to be locked. Fortunately the kindly caretaker happened along and let us in. There are graves dating back to the early 1800’s, and apparently the friar's grave which is dated 485. We did not find it and unfortunately the caretaker had taken off, so we couldn't ask him. It was a very interesting adventure!
Back over to the Botanical Gardens for the Autumn Fair, which is an annual event and there was a lot going on. They had rides and activities for the kids, a tent set up to promote more earth conscious practises, such as recycling, repurposing and composting. We talked to a young woman who was making and handing out reusable produce bags and found out her sister had just returned from a year and a half working in Edmonton! And her father, in his younger days, had taught up on Baffin Island. When she was older, they took a family trip across Canada.
The other part of the fair was the typical "show" part where people submitted their entries in various categories, such as flowers, baking, handicrafts, flower arranging, produce, much like our KDays Makers Exhibition. The flowers were absolutely beautiful and some of the produce was amazing!
But my favourite part of the fair was when we were sitting waiting for the pumpkin carving demo to begin. I started talking to a young man about 10 or 11, asking him if they celebrated Halloween the way we do in Canada. He explained that they did, and shared some of the customs that were slightly different. I asked him if he had a costume picked out yet and he said no, but he wanted to be something scary. Then he said he might go as Donald Trump or maybe even Justin Trudeau. I was gobsmacked that a kid from Ireland would even know who JT was!!We talked about the things I had seen so far and where we had been. He asked if I had seen some of the churches and then proceeded to show me photos on his phone of the church. They were actually quite good! He then told me that he was on Instagram, and that he goes by "hismajestykingliami". I was totally impressed with this young man, and he made my day!
Back to the hotel for a bit of shuteye for Irv before we headed out to Lavery's, a local pub with Bill and Mary and Christy. We were supposed to be meeting with the rest of the group at 8 to have a farewell drink with the three who were leaving the tour, but only Mike and two other couples ended up coming, not the three who were leaving!! We were then i formed by one of the bounders that we would probably be best to leave, as the area in which we were sitting would be turned into a nightclub very shortly. We took the hint and left! First time any of us had ever been asked to leave an establishment by a bouncer!!