Straight to Northern Ireland

We arrived in Dublin, grabbed our rental car and drove across the border from Ireland to Northern Ireland guided by endless greenery and signs with words on them that I can’t even attempt to pronounce.

Our destination was Newcastle, County Down (you have to make this distinction within the country of Ireland or no one will know where you are referring to), the home of our good friend Joe’s family.

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A peek at the “main drag” of Newcastle, County Down.

Newcastle is a beachy town, with plenty of local tourists buzzing around enjoying the ocean air between ice cream scoops and fish-and-chip stops.

We stayed at an AirBnB just off the main road, leaving us within walking distance of everything important (including Granny’s house, of course).

It was incredible to have locals giving us tips on where to go and what to try.  We had the good fortune of eating at Cafe Maud’s – a little deli-slash-cafe with the best food in town. Out of all the places we ate in this country, Maud’s had the freshest, most flavorful selection of dishes. As if that wasn’t enough, they also had a kickass traditional Irish breakfast.

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Having a laugh at Cafe Maud’s over some Irish breakfast.

Exploring the local pubs in Newcastle is a must – there’s a spot dedicated to nightly jam-session style music circles, a place with the old-school details of a pub hundreds of years ago, and there’s a little bar off the beaten path called the Anchor Bar.

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Our friendly neighborhood Anchor Bar, with a glimpse of the lounge on the left.

As Joe’s personal favorite spot, this place quickly became our home base in Newcastle. They have a typical pub-vibe area, a fancier lounge area for a casual ladies’ night out, and an outdoor patio with a DJ on the weekends. We had the privilege of seeing some live music in the main pub area. To be honest, my expectations weren’t high for such a small town. My assumptions were totally off-base – the band was fantastic!

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MMMMMmmmmmm Guinness.

I’d recommend Newcastle for a taste of Northern Ireland away from the major cities. It’s only an hour away from Belfast and is a great pit stop on the way up to the Giant’s Causeway or the Dark Hedges.

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