My Irish Adventures: Belfast and Dublin #craicisreal

I have always dreamed of travelling the world city by city. And as all of you know by now I am a nurse- a Filipino nurse. It is hard for me to spend money just for leisure personally because I have to save money for myself. Also, I have to support my grandma and grandpa back home. They suffer financially. I try to juggle between pleasure and saving money just to help as this was my promise to myself if God will give me this UK opportunity. (Which He obviously did)
The past months have been difficult for me because I’m close to being depressed for the fact that I work too hard and aside from that, to be honest I don’t want to be a nurse. I easily get afraid deep down and I am afraid of people. I am weird in this way,I know. But, it’s life isn’t it? But yeah, it seems that I am sociable but to be honest sometimes I still feel horrible, not all the time but sometimes. However, generally life’s been great and so I thought hey I am off for 2 weeks for my birthday why not go to another place (despite not having much money, and I am not joking!) Me and my friend (a friend from the same cohort of nurses, his name is Jonathan) whom I came with is also off on these weeks. So I said hey why not we go to another city. Another city in the UK that doesn’t need a visa obviously. Then came the idea of visiting Belfast of Northern Ireland.

Well, in reality, I only know Belfast because of friends who went there. And now the time has come for me to visit this lovely town. So I booked tickets. The duration of the trip will be 5 days! Because I overbooked our stay. I suck at planning trips I tell you. So from October 5 to 9, 2017. Our flight went from Gatwick to Belfast International. Two airports are near Belfast. One in the city centre which is the George Best Airport and the other one kind of away from the City proper which is the one we have. So we arrived in Belfast at 11am after a delayed Ryanair flight. And we rode the bus to the city near Europa hotel paid 15p pounds but it is open return because we will still go back there going home to London soon. Then we hired a value cab taxi to our lovely airbnb. Our airbnb is hosted by our lovely Helga. It cost us 150 quid for 5 nights so not bad for 2 people. And that’s how expensive travelling sometimes is.

The first day we met Helga our host she offered us a lift to the City Centre and from there we kind of got our feels of the city by walking by foot with our lovely guide, google map. We were so hungry we went for the search for a glorious Chinese resto which did not disappoint. And then we literally just went around the city. The city isn’t that big but it isn’t that crowded as well unlike London. The funny thing about this trip is we never had an itinerary. So we just went with the flow.

While we were walking we saw the Northern Irish tours ticket centre accidentally so went in. By the time we got there, we always had in mind of the Game of Thrones tour and voila there was the GOT tour plus a trip to the Giant’s Causeway. So we decided to do this trip. Also, I pre-booked a ticket as well like the night before we left London for a free walking tour. And yes it is free.

So on the second day, we woke up late because we were knackered but we went to this walking tour. Our tour guide is Claire. She is an archaeologist as well. She toured us at different sites in the City. There were a lot of information that she gave us. Like how Belfast was famous for Linens, then Ship building, the Titanic memorial, the Guinness, the conflict of religion, and much much more. After that tour we went back to one of the sites and went to this lovely pub and restaurant. The name is Yardbird. The ground floor is the pub and above it is the restaurant with the nicest chicken I’ve had in a long time with just 5 pounds! Ain’t that amazing? Plus the place is cozy too. After that we had a pretty chilled out walk around the city the second time around which I think is nice just to have a feel and soak in the city.

We went inside malls and we accidentally went into this place called Victoria Square and inside the mall there is a weird structure that looks like a stairwell with a viewing deck at the top attached to lifts as well. We decided to go up and then we had a decent view of the city up above for free. Took some photos and we are happy. This was Friday night so at night we decided to eat somewhere nice. So we went to some steak house near the Duke of York pub it’s called the Grill which is a poshy restaurant we just both went straight to the mains and devoured our medium rare steak. And after we had a pint of Guinness and listened to music at night in the pub. It was nice for me to see Belfast locals enjoy their friday night quite cozier than the nightlife in London. It is more laid back and fun. Many good looking guys and gals are around and they had fun. It’s just weird because we were the only asians around but I (almost) really didn’t care.

I was just enjoying my drink and music. And then we went home after a drunk Irish lad came to us and spoke gibberish and Irish English. It was so hard to understand but I was trying my best. It was surprising he mentioned about how he likes Filipinos because we just work and he felt we weren’t really competing with them. I feel him because you know of all this Brexit and all. They have issues with outsiders. That’s the thing with not being in home, sometimes you feel alienated. But nevertheless if you just do the right thing, I always think there will never be a problem.

So that’s the end of the second day. The next day, the whole day is alloted to the Game of thrones tour. Our tour guide’s name was Adrian, he is a skinny guy with a long beard. He has this beard in order for him to be an extra in the series itself Game of Thrones. Now mind you, I am not a super fan of Game of thrones but I did watch and loved and had my share of hype while watching this way way back. That’s why I did this tour.

So the tour involved visiting the filming locations across Northern Ireland. We were in a bus in a group of 40 people coming from across the globe, Canada, USA, Denmark, Poland, Spain, UK, India and many more. First short stop is Garrick Fergus castle. Then we visited Carnlough village where there is a harbour and that is where Arya taped for 6 hours. It is the Bravos Canal. We passed by the woods where Bran was lost in the woods after riding the horse and met a wilding. Tip if you are going to join this trip. Ride on the right side of the bus if you want to see the side of the coast. It is voted as the 4th most wonderful coast in the world. Then we went to this cave where Melisandre gave birth to the Shadow Lord. And then we went to the hanging bridge which is also a filming site but we didn’t manage because of the weather conditions.

You see, Ireland is famous for the weather. It’s weather is always mostly cloudy with always high chances of raining. That’s the main reason why they filmed most of the scenes there. It is almost always raining everyday. If you don’t fancy that kind of vacation then you should know this before even considering going to the whole of Ireland both in the Northern and the Republic.

So to compensate for the deal, Adrian the guide offered us that instead of spending an hour in the bridge doing nothing, why not go to the Old Bushmill’s distillery of Whiskey instead? If he gets a unanimous vote because it is not in the deal you see. But one Asian raised her hand when we voted and said she wants to stay to see the bridge (while it is raining wtf) but to be fair I think she just didn’t understand the instruction. And we were all like “Is she serious?”. I mean come on guys, as Asians, we have to be considerate of the other people. That was just totally selfish and I think can we pay more attention specially most Asians look gullible and we sometimes have difficulty in comprehending English. That was just stupid for me.
Anyway, everyone stood up and we eventually went to the Whiskey Distillery which is the first legal Distillery in the world. We were about to have whiskey tasting which will cost 8 pounds but they offered us a shot of Whiskey which can only be found and sold there for free. How cool is this! After that we went to the Unesco heritage site which is the Giant’s causeway. It is a 66M old basalt stone formation that looks man made but it’s not. It formed hexagons that rise from the seaside thousands of them. You play on the top of it. It is just amazing how nature formed this. It is quite intricate. Our tour guide’s name was Mark he is the third of the generation of his family who were originally living around the causeway. After that we went to the Dark hedges a film location in GOT as well. This is like a road that has trees on the side planted 200 years ago. It was fun because the guide had costumes and swords. I volunteered to wear it while walking there I looked stupid but I just didn’t care.

The day ended alright, then we headed home with a quiz on board the bus about Game of Thrones and they tally scores per country. Sorry guys, we didn’t even score a point. It was UK, Canada and US who had the most points. I just shut up really. It was hard!

The next day is the 4th day which we decided we will cross to Dublin, in the Republic of Ireland. This is a different country from UK, which Northern Ireland is part of. We rode the bus and had the three hour journey from Belfast to Dublin. The fare isn’t that bad. It cost us 16 pounds return. Knowing that this is a journey to another country.
We arrived around 11am. We initially booked a walking tour at 11am but we didn’t manage so we postponed it by 2pm and re booked a Sandeman’s walking tour. Still a free tour.

Before we started the tour I had the pleasure and opportunity to meet my classmatesfrom nursing who now work as nurses there too.
We went a quick tour around as they guided us. I said sorry to them as this trip wasn’t really planned. Time is running so we just had an hour catch up but after many months and years of not seeing each other, it was just a relief! Best feeling ever.

And 2pm arrived we had to start the walking tour which started from the City Hall.

I just have to express how much I have enjoyed every single bit of the tour. I have Irish friends you see, and I never knew how Ireland fared through time. I am so bad at this and as I listen to our guide who himself is Irish and a Dubliner, I am moved.

He narrates the story with conviction and emotion, how the country struggled with independence from the British, how many have been killed throughout and the tension between the Northern part of Ireland. It was not pleasant to hear and while you hear the stories it is still obvious that the hurt and damage that this part of history has caused still pains the people. Ireland has been isolated from the world as it has been neutral with the world war 2, so mos of these people are very welcoming to other races that come and visit their country.
I would say the stories that I heard was the highlight of this trip to both countries. I won’t bore you with all the specifics but it would be really nice that you would travel here someday or maybe read about this painful part of the Irish history.
By the way, Dublin has some iconic bulidings such as the Spire, The Temple Bar, etc.but the real asset of the Irish Isles is what they call as the “Craic”, pronounced as crack which means fun. The real asset of Ireland is the people and the atmosphere. And I totally felt that in Dublin. #craicisreal People are welcoming to all cultures and I could always tell irish people I know are the kindest people I know so salute to all Irish people out there!

I am thanking God for giving me this opportunity really. This trip is actually my gift to myself. As I am writing this, I am 2 days away from my 25th birthday, so happy birthday to me! You see, I may not have all the money in the world but hey, I am happy and fulfilled. I feel loved, I feel satisfaction with my job, I have good health, I have my Faith, I have a little money in the bank, and I help my family. Joy, happiness, love and self- content are things money cannot buy. I know most of the things in this world are being run by money but it is absolutely not everything. My prayer is that God will continue to use me for His glory and thrust me to my full potential and develop me into a better person everyday , that He will give me the Faith that can move mountains and faith that jumps and leaps to greatness, the amount of courage to get out of my comfort zone.

I also want to thank Kuya Jonathan who was my buddy for this trip, he endured me and I endured him. (LOL) And he was very generous to me as on our last dinner together he gave me a pint of Guinness and a wonderful treat from a recommended pub in Dublin, O’Neills.

This month of October as well marks the second year of my journey here in London. And we are 9 in our cohort to celebrate this. I cannot believe two years have gone by so fast and now I am writing this. It seemed I just wrote the first article about the CBT exam. The two years were filled with dreams, adventures, misfortunes and lessons that I would never ever trade.


The Escape to Edinburgh

So, after ages I am able to write and sit with my laptop and type for you guys!

How are you?

I hope this blog post finds you in a great and awesome place!

Well, this post will be about one of the wonder cities of the United Kingdom. And it is none other than …. EDINBURGH!!!! (pronounced as like Edinbrugh)

I cannot explain my excitement in writing and sharing to you about this fantastic trip to this fantastic city!

This trip has changed my life tremendously.

So this trip happened because my cousin all the way from Austin, Texas came all the way from the US of A to tour Europe for a business trip to Italia and guess what, she loved me so much that she and her dad, my uncle came to London just to see me! Ain’t that sweet?

But I overestimated her stay and I literally consumed 4 days to Edinburgh leaving her 1 day to savour London!

But no worries, London will always be accessible enough so, Edinburgh it is!

Ah. Where do I start? HP? Whiskeys? Hairy coos? Lochs? Highlands? Whew!

Let me take you to lovely Edinburgh!


Traveling to Edinburgh can be done through plane, train or by bus. Guess what we took? Bus! Yes. The dreaded 8 hour night bus we took!

And it was horrible to be honest because when you arrive in your destination you’ll be completely knackered. But hey, we saved great deal of pounds for this so I am okay. Haha! But next time I’ll come back I’ll probably book and plan earlier and take the train. 😛

So, for those of you that doesn’t know, brief geography lesson. The UK is a sovereign state with countries in one England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The capital of Scotland is Edinburgh!

On our first day, we searched for our Airbnb and we eventually managed to find it. Scotland was so cold! Even the sun was there we were totally freezing.

The view of a hill stood outside our place and little did I know that was the hill where I will get a picturesque view of the city.

We started exploring the city by going to a Sandeman’s free tour of the city. We waited for the leader and he will walk us around the city and guide us for free but the premise is he will want tips from us, he was a lovely chap, our tourguide.


He lead us to different sites. So here is our tour guide.


The guide was informative and I liked the fact that you are not obligated to pay. There are so much to learn of the facts about the city. We walked around the city along some of the Harry Potter sites, the inspiration of Tom Riddle and other characters in HP, and most of them were taken from epitaphs around the church overlooking the Cafe JK Rowling used to write. Even the inspiration of the Hogwarts school was there!

As you can see in my photos above, Victoria Street is the street where Diagon Alley was inspired upon.

We went to have a selfie inside the cafe where JK Rowling used to write too.

Also, along our walking tour, we met a guy from Texas, his name is Jason, same with my cousin and is also Filipino. You will se his photo with us a little bit when you scroll down. So we actually spent the rest of the day with him strolling around the city taking boomerang for us. And we paid a visit to taste the one and only, Haggis!


We ate from this Resto, it’s really popular in Edinburgh, it’s called Howies and we ate Haggis there. I like it’s taste, really. So a Haggis has sheep’s stomach or ox secum in it, has the heart and lungs of one lamb as well!

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to take a photo of the food because the place was kind of poshy and like taking photo of the food felt awkward and we were famished as well so no one really cared. Haha

Oh! And before I forget while we were walking around the city, we were having good views of the people and felt the vibrant culture around the area.

So.. if you mention Scotland, you would imagine what? Well, of course, Kilt and Bagpipe! HahaSo here’s my photo 😛


And, when we went there, they were shooting the new Avengers film. How amazing is that?


Because it was a while when we went to Scotland and I cannot sincerely know the exact order of our adventure, I think because we were so knackered we just went for this and went home because we were so tired. The next day in the morning our host in Scotland offered us free breakfast! Free! And she even talks to us every morning. And her son plays the Clarsach which is a Celtic harp native in Scotland. He is really good. You can see the video of his son playing in my instagram account. (@lloydsabijon) You might wanna scroll through it and maybe follow?. Lol. But man, our stay in Scotland listening to that was for me, amazing!

So we ended the night strolling around the city, through Calton Hill which overlooked the City! It was just lovely lovely lovely, words cannot express how happy I felt seeing the lights of this wonderful City of Edinburgh. And we just soaked the beauty in the night.

The next day,we woke up late and became very lazy taking our time because we were jaded from all of the things we did from yesterday. So, we decided to explore our neighbor. Apparently, we are close to the greenbelt area in Scotland which means this area has no buildings around and is good for strolling, so we went there with Stephanie, my cousin’s name by the way. (I did not introduce her earlier, LOL) We did a relaxing stroll.

Then we went to the Rabbis tour for our next exploration! The Scottish Highlands.

Whew!How will I describe the Highlands. For me, it is one of those places where you will just be relaxed and amazed I guess. It’s just so so different from any place I have been. (Anyway I’ve only traveled a few places. Lol) But yeah. I’ll let the photos justify what I want to express to you!

We went to a Dunn’s Castle which is apparently a Game of Thrones castle, but they didn’t shoot in Scotland anymore because it got very expensive for them. Haha

We passed by a lot of Lochs which are mind you breathtaking.

The Rabbis tour was free for me because my cousin and my Auntie in the US said it’s her treat for me. It it quite expensive to be honest with youwhen you pay for it. But it was also worth it. Seeing those wonderful Lochs stopping on nice views and stopping to feed the Hairy coos was for me just amaaaaaaaaazing!

I love nature and animals man. It’s just uplifting and relaxing to the soul. Especially now I live in the jungle of London. In the center of London mind you. Waaaa not that I am complaining but sometimes London can be sooo crowded and soooo busy. (But I love how the people dress, fashion is dang cool!)

Anyway back to Scotland, so yes.

I learned as well that they said, The part of Scotland, the highlands, is originally a part of the continent of the USA but went to Scotland because of the movement of Tectonic plates which explains its very different terrain from the mainland.

Loch Lubnaig

Feeding the hairy Coos.

By the way, the Hairy coo’s color is mostly the reddish one because the queen wanted it, so they purposely made them plentier and bred them. Haha

And have a look how breathtaking how God made these landscapes! I wanna cry. The memories were just overwhelming for me. ( I am emotional by the way) Haha

I think one of the highlights of this trip was being able to open my taste buds with the finest whiskeys I have ever tasted! Man! I tasted 60 year old whiskeys. We went to this place called Inveraray. It is a small village and in there lies close a Loch (Lake) called Loch Fyne, where they named the whiskey they made there.Only two stores in the world sell/ produce these whiskeys. It is in 1. Inveraray itself and 2. In the Whiskey shop in Edinburgh.

The man who owns this whiskey shop in Invereray welcomed us so nicely. I had a big hunch he had a crush on my cousin. He offered us lots of whiskeys,his favorite ones and rare ones to taste!Gosh and offered us tea and coffee inside his store! My golly! That was an experience.Man I was in love with the whiskeys. My taste buds are not gonna be the same after that. Man! Amazing.

Also, the town has a huge Loch in front of it. Has some nice shops and restaurants to eat with. what a lovely town it was. Too bad outside it was hailing and raining. Man! HAHAHA

But I enjoyed it. But I was freezing. We were freezing. And my Slytherin cousin from hot Texas hated the cold. ALL THE TIME. I think she got traumatized from the whole experience. HAHAHA

So tip, when going to Scotland, bring Duvet with you. Haha Kidding. Just be prepared with the temperature that’s all.

On our way home we concluded the trip with a wonderful view of the highlands, went to a wonderful Lake and we ate Fish and chips beside the lake. We also got lost. Haha It was just amazing to see Scotland even thought I know we only experience a fraction of it.

The next days tour, my cousin booked us a different bus tour around the highlands but this time it is for free.

So if you guys would check this hairycoo free bus tour, just like Sandeman’s, they only rely on tips at the end. The man who drives will be the guide.Our guide was a very kind chap. He toured us on wonderful places as well. On unique part he took us was the secret waterfall into the woods. That was a different kind of experience to be honest.

And he took us to the very lovely Loch Katrine and took us to Hairy Coos and some nice spots as well.It was like a re run for us to be honest.

I think on the last day we trekked the famous Arthur’s seat. But before we wen there we sipped our share of coffee in The Elephant house where JK Rowling used to write HP. I took photos of the toilet as well because it was full of.. see the photos. All potterhead vandalisms. HAHAHAHA

And the Arthur’s seat experience.

If you see a mountain, in Edinburgh, that’s the Arthur’s seat, the brown mountain. You will climb that so if you go there be prepared. It’s cold and rocky. You don’t want to climb with fancy heels.

When went there we were very slow we just took our time but man we were chasing the sunset. My cousin was very tired already, it’s getting dark. She almost gave up but I was desperate to see the sunset.We arrived at the top the minute the sunset started. It wasn’t as lovely maybe compared to when seeing the sun a little above the horizon but I am fine with it because! We saw doggies at the top!


Our trip in this lovely city has really made a great impact to me. Personally, I just came from a small town in the southern part of the Philippines. And never in my wildest dreams have I thought of exploring this place. I never even thought I could afford buying and tasting whiskeys. But God has been so good to me that he allowed me to travel and experience Scotland and just admire His goodness and His creation. No matter what happens, I will always look up to Him and thank Him for all the goodness I am receiving. I’m just glad to be blessed.

I hope you enjoyed my little narrative about my Scottish adventure with my cousin.

Let me know if you’re planning to go to Scotland or you can share to me your experience in Scotland. I am sure you will have a great time there!