It has been a while since I posted a travel review on the blog and I am glad to be back with a cracking post for you today!
Last weekend we were offered a couple of nights in a cottage in Coleraine by the very lovely team at Cancer Fund for Children.
We had read in the Irish News that Derry had been voted as the best Halloween destination in the world, so we decided to brave the one hour drive and go and check it out!
The Halloween celebrations in Derry indeed are, an absolute treat!
First of all, the atmosphere is fantastic, and the celebratory mood is prevalent way before you even set foot in the city center, where all the buzz is and most organised activities take place!
Families are out and about, dressed up in Halloween attire, matching most times and all! I am so sorry, in retrospect, that I did not bring my professional camera along and act like Brandon from Humans of New York, I think you would have been delighted with the ingenuity and the effort people put into dressing up for the occasion!
The Peace Bridge was built in 2011 and it is the ultimate definition of symbolic architecture! The Bridge unites the two sides of Derry, that historically stand for the two sides of the big political divide here, in Northern Ireland and, according to Wikipedia, “it is intended to improve relations between the largely unionist ‘Waterside’ with the largely nationalist ‘Cityside’, by improving access between these areas, as part of wider regeneration plans.”
To Emma, Alex explained the slightly odd, windy twisty shape of the bridge as the way in which political peace generally works: ” it is never a straight path, but a long process of compromises, detours and mutual acceptance.”
We decided to go straight to the Guild Hall, once on the other side of the bridge, as there were loads of children’s shows and activities scheduled that we wanted Emma to enjoy.
The hall was set up magnificently for the occasion, entry fee was only a pound per head and loads and loads of fun was had during the two shows we got to watch, the Three Witches and Bruce Airhead:
After the shows we felt the need to get a bit of fresh air and since the afternoon had turned out so very pleasant and warm (a lovely surprise, given the typical Norn Irish weather!) we knew it was the perfect time to show Emma the old defense stone walls. The wall walk lasts not more than 20 minutes and gives you an exquisite, vantage view point of Derry and its gorgeous surroundings.
Once back into the town, it was time to cross the Bridge once again and settle for a lovely evening meal in the award winning Sooty Olive restaurant, which we had booked for six o’clock, giving us time to enjoy a lavish meal and finish in time for the annual fireworks. By then, my camera had run out of battery so I wasn’t able to take pictures of our aaaah-maaa-zing meal but I am sure the lovely owner will not mind us using a couple of pictures from their website to showcase the extraordinary culinary treat you are in for at the Sooty Olive:
Our choices consisted of beautiful (and stunningly well presented) starters of salmon pate and fish cakes, main meals of lamb shank and chicken supreme (featured in the picture above) and chicken goujons and mash for Emma and desserts of apple and blackberry crumble and the selection of house ice-creams, which comes with a home baked cookie, the size of Emma’s head!
Alex fancied a couple of craft beers from the menu as well and it all came to a bill of £50 and three stuffed-to-the-gills but very satisfied customers!
It was then time to head out and find a spot to watch the fireworks, a 10 minute walk and we were back to the Peace Bridge and ready for a good show,which was delivered, above our wildest expectations:
Our only regret was that we didn’t book to stay into the town overnight and we didn’t manage to see the Parade this year, as we had to head back to Coleraine, but I did book City Hotel provisionally for next year :-)!
I truly hope that next year we will be able to return to Derry for their amazing Halloween celebrations and provide our readers with an even thorougher review of the events. I do hope Tourism Ireland get to read not only our post but also into our love and enthusiasm for our adoptive country and who knows, even commission us to write about the next year’s Halloween celebrations :-)?
I do know that next year’s Halloween seems like a long time away now but where would you like to spend yours, given the choice?