I recently visited the beautiful city of Belfast, Ireland. I had been stuck in Bangor for the last four months and I had reached my saturation point. I took off right after my last exam. What I didn’t know was that I would find something I hadn’t realised I had lost. Well, luckily, I had the ‘luck of the Irish’ with me!
On my way from Bangor to Liverpool, I actually got off a few stations before the Central Station as it was much nearer to the harbour. Outside that dodgy station I met an old lady named Sandra. I asked her for directions, she tried telling me the route, but after she saw how dark and empty the streets were, she asked me,”Why don’t you let me and my husband drop you to the harbour?” I was absolutely shocked, she had never met me and she wasn’t going in the same direction, yet she offered to drop me off so kindly. Soon her husband pulled up in front of the station and she told him that they would be dropping me off. She said that she’s also a mother and that every time her daughter steps out of the house, she’s always worried. She also added,”We should treat others the way we want to be treated.” I know I’ll never see the kind couple every again, but I’m just so thankful and more than that I really admire them for helping out a complete stranger because of empathy.
The ferry from Birkenhead (Liverpool) to Belfast is about eight hours, and it runs both during the day and night (I personally prefer the night one). It was my first time travelling on a ferry in a foreign country. To my surprise, I quite enjoyed the feeling but I suppose what made it more enjoyable was the fact that I made two lovely friends during my ferry trip. Claire and Lauren they are called, both of them in their early twenties and extremely funny. We soon hit it off and talked about serious as well as perverse topics. None of us slept for even a minute. We were the only ones awake during the whole trip I guess. What I really enjoyed was the fact that they were so unapologetic and honest. They didn’t think twice before speaking and did whatever made them happy. From cat walks on the sofa to playing in the kid’s zone, we laughed all night long. After arriving in Belfast, we shared a cab amongst the three of us and another extremely attractive man. The second he left, they said,”I wouldn’t mind having a taste of that.” And all three of us burst out laughing.
My friend came to receive me when I reached his street, like a sweet gentleman he pulled
away my luggage and finally after being awake for more than twenty-four hours, I spotted a comfortable bed to crash. Since it was only seven thirty in the morning, both of
us slept off and woke up around noon. We then went out sightseeing. I had only been in the city for less than a couple of hours but I was already enjoying myself. Let me tell you one thing about my friend, he is a complete flirt, but he is also extremely sweet. As we started walking around, he stuck out his arm for me to grab onto it and walk. I couldn’t help but go ‘awww’. That whole day we visited plenty of pubs and saw quite a few beautiful murals. We kept on talking as though there was just so much to say, and also flirted at the same time. The best part was that both of us are two people who like to be happy and laugh. To an outsider, that kind of flirting might have even seemed to be romantic but to us it was just fun. By the end of the day I had seen so much of beauty that existed all over Belfast that I was almost over whelmed.
The next day I simply lazed around and then my friend met up with me in the evening. We went out for a couple of drinks with his friend, who is a musician. We went to a pub nearby which had a live band playing rock music. The singers were so passionate about their music that you could feel it. The audience also reciprocated accordingly. The atmosphere was filled with merriment and joy. We went back to my
friend’s house where his friend accompanied us as well. We were soon tripping and everybody was all over the place. My friend was dancing to the music, his friend was fidgeting and playing an instrument and I was just moving my head and watching them.
Music was so important to them, it was their ultimate form of expression.
On day three I went to the local market called ‘St. George’s Market’. As it was a Sunday, it was filled with quirky stalls and lots and lots of food!
It was over here that I met a man as sweet as the cakes he was selling, intrigued by their names I scanned for the most tempting one. He gave me a tasting of ‘white chocolate, raspberry and pistachio cake’ and ‘Cardamom and Plum cake’. After tasting it, I was more confused, so I ended up buying both using the excuse that my friend might enjoy them as well. We chatted for a while, but before I was about to leave, he gave me something called the ‘Marasche’ which was sweet and in the form of an uneven ball. I asked him about how much it would cost and he told me to
just take it since, he also said that he had eaten about twenty of them since that morning! I thanked him and left his stall with a sugary smile. It might not cost him a loss or profit, but him handing that sweet little thing made me extremely happy. I always feel people who can bake sweet food have an amazing super power, they can make anybody happy instantly.
Anyhow, I then roamed around the streets near the city centre with the river flowing right next to the roads. That’s when it struck me, I was doing what I had always dreamed about! I had always fantasised about walking the roads of unknown lands on my own, breathing in the air of the city or town and just feeling so alive! I couldn’t and didn’t want to get that grin off my face. So, I contacted my friend and soon joined him during his music practice. I was yet again left in an awe when I heard them play. It was a group of people that played multiple and multicultural instruments. I do not know if you will be able to imagine instruments like the cello, tabla, pipes, clarinet, trombone, Casio, guitar, violin, drums, Chinese instrument and a whole range of other instruments that I cannot even name, but let me tell you they were outlandishly good. All the musicians communicated with their eyes, when they were in perfect sync, all of them smiled at the same time and then adjusting themselves according to the whole group, it was just wonderful. The man who was the main fellow was a cello player and an amazing one for that matter. Whenever he struck the cords of his two hundred years old cello, it would feel like he was actually striking my heart. After the practice was over, I observed that even though they were extremely serious about their music but that didn’t mean that fun wasn’t a major part of it. They teased each other, complimented each other and respected each other. Being in the same room as those talented and hard working people made me feel so lucky, I was able to experience the process of magic being created.
So, on day four I went for a tour to Giant’s causeway, Bushmills distillery and Carrie-ca-ridge. I soon befriended a Chinese girl who was a solo traveller as well. We clicked pictures for each other and chatted along the way. On the carrie-ca-ridge (which is a dangly bridge) I stood completely still for a second and looked around. I was feeling it, the
adrenaline I had been yearning for, and let me tell you, it’s an addictive feeling. The view around was spectacular, but it was the experience of standing on a shaking bridge that made all the difference. I didn’t even realise how quickly eight hours had passed until we reached back home. The chinese girl and I exchanged numbers and planned on meeting the next day.
It was already day five and I hadn’t realised that I had been in Belfast for so long. I quickly booked my ferry ticket in the morning and told my friend that I would be leaving soon. I went to city centre to eat and roam around as it was the last day. The chinese girl soon met up with me and we went shopping together. While we were at one of the shops,
the strangest thing happened. We were trying to search for a changing room to try on some clothes, when a young girl approached us and took us to a personal shopper’s changing room instead. And let me tell you, that was the most impressive dressing room I have ever seen. It had large sofas, soft carpet, bright lighting, wine, chocolates and tea. The girl then chatted with us about boyfriends and tinder. We soon discovered that the Chinese girl wasn’t much of a ‘girl’ but a woman. She told us that she was thirty one and had a husband and a daughter. I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard that. She did look young, although the striking part was her carefree and fun nature. She was so enthusiastic and child like during the time we spent together that her being a mother was almost unimaginable. We soon ended the night with a pint of irish guinness and said our goodbyes. I rushed to my friend’s house and we soon said goodbye as well. Being the soft yet crazy person he is, I so badly wanted to thank him for everything, not just for letting me stay at his house but also to have been such a amazing companion for my trip, sadly I couldn’t say much at all, ah well, I can only hope he’s aware of my gratitude.
My ferry ride was quite peaceful, those eight hours gave me a lot of time to reflect on my trip. I had been so happy during the entire trip, even when sad things would sneak in, it didn’t hold me back. I was so surprised when I realised how boring I had actually become. I used to be a person who did what she did because it made her happy and because it was fun. I quickly looked back at the four months I spent in Bangor, and it wasn’t Bangor which was to blame for me getting bored. It was the fact that I needed to keep my wild spirit alive because each and every place will force you to mellow down a bit of course, but it’s my responsibility to keep my adventure hungry side alive. I understand I can’t always find that wildness here, but what I can do is continue to aim for what I always aim for, to be young, wild and free.
PS : Zoya Rana was with me. Remember her.