“There are seasons when to be still demands immeasurably higher strength than to act.”
When I chose to set up a home base in Belfast there was more to it than the music scene or getting mail from home. Although either of those was reason enough. It was also a test. I’ve made wonderful new friends on this adventure. But when you’re moving to a new town every week you’re still a transient; never slowing down long enough to put down roots or form deeper in-person relationships.
Believe it or not, I was afraid of this test. What if I couldn’t connect with other people; that my shyness and awkwardness got in the way? (Awkward is adorable, right?) What if I got too comfortable, never wanted to leave, and abandoned my adventure? What if I found out it was true that I was running away from my grief, something I’ve vehemently denied?
The great Zig Ziglar taught that FEAR has two meanings. You can Forget Everything And Run, or Face Everything And Rise. Smart man. I’ve learned a lot from him over the years, and this is one lesson I hold close. So staying put for a while was important to see if I could connect with other humans and if I could stand being still, and my own company, for that long. Grief Recovery Project challenge accepted. You know I refuse to let my fears control my life, so I rented a flat and turned around to face them head-on. And it’s been absolutely incredible.
Now that my time in Belfast is at an end, I look back and am amazed at how quickly I was able to build a life for myself here, and how unfounded my fears were. Well, except for maybe one. I’ve fallen in love with Belfast and don’t want to leave. But it’s time to hit the road and see what else awaits me in this big old world of ours. There are still many beautiful places for me to see, interesting people to meet, lessons for me to learn and adventures to be had.
Peace out Belfast, I’ll be back. I <3 you.
The Wandering Widow
Live Now. Dream Big. Love Fierce.
Click here to view my Belfast photo album.
My tips for a long-term visit to Belfast
Over the course of my seven weeks in Belfast I stayed in City Centre, North, East and West Belfast neighborhoods, in a mix of both hotels and Airbnb flats. Hotels are typically more expensive than an Airbnb, but if you’re not familiar with the neighborhoods you’ll want to spend extra time researching the maps and distances to the places you want to see and things you want to do. If you go the Airbnb route, be sure to check whether you are renting the full house or just a room. Also, you’ll want to double check the amenities (things like wifi, laundry, television, and parking). And don’t forget to read the reviews!
Each had its own vibe and pros and cons, but the place that stole my heart was the Airbnb flat I rented in North Belfast. I loved everything about the Victorian flat and the neighborhood. People were super friendly (which is typical of most of Ireland) and I felt safer here than at home in the states. It was my stay here that convinced me to start checking real estate listings in the North Belfast area.
Since I didn’t drive while I was here, I walked most places unless it was at night. The weather here is quite mild compared to Idaho, so the cooler temperatures and occasional rain didn’t bother me much. Buses are easy to utilize and inexpensive. And unlike other parts of Europe, taxis in Belfast are reasonably priced. In fact, I found taxis to be better priced and more reliable than Uber since their GPS could never seem to find my building. (I’ve had the same problem with Uber GPS back home, so this isn’t just a Belfast issue). PRO TIP: If you’re in Belfast over the holidays, don’t wait til the last minute on a Friday or Saturday night to call your cab, or be prepared to walk. You can call earlier in the day and book to make sure you’re not hoofing it home. I found Fonacab and Bliss Taxi to be the easiest to book and used them the most, but had good experiences with every taxi company I tried.
Despite the length of time I was here, I never felt the need to get a local SIM card for my phone or laptop. Everywhere I stayed had secure wifi, and the few calls I needed to make were covered by my international cell phone plan. Do your homework before you get here though.
This was the most annoying thing for me. I had a small box of supplies packed and ready for my sister to mail me once I found a home base. In addition to the ridiculous fee to ship it over from the US, I got hit with a whopping duty charge from the UK. So I got to pay taxes and shipping twice. If I had to do it over again, I’d just pack a year’s supply of my contact lenses and eye drops in my suitcase and lug them around Europe. An overweight bag fee would still have been less than what I paid.