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A Visitor in Derry.

For ages I've been wanted to head over the water and check out some of Ireland. My pilgrimage was due to end at my family's ancestral home in Warrenpoint with a quick business stop off in Belfast but first it was a short trip to Derry.

I never knew much about the place to be honest so didn't know what to expect. I was hugely impressed.

As I was taking the car, I took the Stena Line Ferry from Birkenhead in Liverpool with a chilled out crossing over the Irish Sea then a drive in the dark from Belfast to Derry.

I arrived at the City Hotel tired, weary and looking forward to a steam room and a beer. I had a great room with a view of the River and the famous Peace Bridge.

After availing myself of the leisure facilities I headed out and on a recommendation from the Hotel and found a bar called Peadar O'Donnells. I loved it. Live Music, great people and boss Guinness.

After a few there that was me done for the night.

Next day after a lie in, i decided to do some touristy stuff so checked out what to do at the Hotel. The sun was shining so I headed to the "Bogside" to see the murals and the Free Derry Museum which I enjoyed, then headed up the hill to St Columb's Cathedral which was also a lovely experience. On the way down I passed a place with a mention of a Coffee Shop inside. This was the "Yellow Yard". What an incredible place. A warehouse containing a coffee shop, a record shop, a vintage clothes shop and much much more. I had a delicious and much needed coffee in St Jude's Coffee within the building and as had been my experience so far in Derry I was welcomed warmly and got chatting to a lady called Kerry who was one of the owners. A lovely lady. She told me about the Independent Derry scheme and said enough to make me buy a card as it was only £7. I'm familiar with the Independent Liverpool card but don't have one I'm sad to say. I checked out Independent Derry via their website and decided to use it as a bit of a guide to the rest of my trip.

After buying some vintage records (for me) and a unicorn dream catcher (for my daughter) I headed off for a walk down the Walls and by this time it was beer o clock.

I stopped off at Guildhall Taphouse and tried some excellent craft beer brewed in house. Apparently the craft beer scene is big in Derry with a few more places in the city brewing Beer. I tried Dopey Dick and Northbound both from Derry, and a beer from Donegal called Scraggy Bay. There were more beers I wanted to try from Walled City Brewery, which was a stroll across the Peace Bridge - i spotted that they also do the Independent Derry discount which was handy so I strolled over the water to check it out.

It was tremendous. The food and beer was top notch. I had some tapas style dishes and a couple of tasting paddles of their own beers ranging from a Pale Ale, a lager and stout to an apple and cinnamon beer. All were fantastic. As we're the staff yet again.

I cashed in my discount and headed back over the water, after taking some nice photos of the Derry sunset over the Bridge. Very idillic and a great spot from outside the Brewery.

A swim, a steam and a snooze later I was ready for a nice bite to eat for my final night in Derry. Via the Independent Derry website and Trip Advisor I decided on the Sooty Olive Restaurant back over on the "Waterside" which is a short taxi ride away.

A cozy, relaxed and extremely friendly restaurant with a fantastic menu, wine list and selection of cocktails. I had an orange Old Fashioned garnished with thyme which was terrific.

I opted for a 2 course menu with main and dessert but they brought me over a taster plate of their starters anyway for free!! A small cup of amazing soup, some homemade bread and a black pudding croquet. One look at this as it was presented to me showed that this was very high quality cooking and I was right. An amazing dining experience which must be sampled to be believed. This must be one of, if not the best restaurant in Northern Ireland. I was very, very impressed. Saved a bit of money too on the cocktails with my card. Always helps.

I headed back over the water and finished off at The Central Bar - also owned by the Guildhall Taphouse where I had been earlier and also on the discount card and with an Open Mic night on which I had been reliably informed.....

Another great pub with excellent live music.

I turned in relatively early for a drive to Belfast the next day but as I was driving out of Derry I did think that I was leaving a part of me behind. I felt a real affinity with the place and its locals, they were my kind of people.

I'm looking forward to returning very soon and besides, I've still got a good 11 months left on my Discount Card!

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