Happy Thursday! And welcome back! In case you were curious where I’ve been the past few days, this past weekend was my boyfriend’s birthday (a surprise Hometoberfest “party”), I finished the desk I’ve spent so much time refurbishing lately (photos at the bottom of this post), and I’ve been recording two separate audiobooks I was hired to narrate. Things are all coming to a head this week with deadlines, so that’s why I’ve been a little under the gun for time! How are you? Are you taking time to check-in with yourself and give yourself the care, love, and attention you need? If not, it’s perfectly okay to set aside time for yourself to do whatever you want/need to do during ‘me time.’ Maybe your thing is yoga, meditation, running, paddle boarding, reading, tending to a pallet garden you built, sewing some pillowcases for your home decor, making a dress to match your homemade mask, paddle boarding, or even playing animal crossing with family and friends, but whatever you want to do during your assigned ‘me time,’ make sure you’re doing it and giving yourself a break.
The last we met, I wrote about the amazing experience I had seeing Shane Lowry win The 148th Open Championship at Royal Portrush. If you didn’t get a chance to read that story, I would encourage you to click here to catch up. It was a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I wish everyone I know could have been there! I also did not advance to the Finals of the Maxim Cover Girl contest, but I recorded the video posted below and posted it to my Instagram and Facebook on Monday, celebrating you and all your help in getting me all the way to the Semi-Finals! Today, however, I wanted to spend some time exploring a restaurant I frequented on more than one occasion, one that might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Northern Ireland.
The reason I say it might be the thing that springs to mind when I mention Belfast, Northern Ireland is because it is actually a Chinese restaurant. The Red Panda is a white tablecloth Chinese restaurant on Great Victoria Street - not all that far from the train and bus station. It was a good choice for me to stop and grab some food on my way home from The Open because of its proximity to the bus station back to Dublin, its affordability and quality, and also because I had eaten there before and knew what to expect.
The first time I went to Red Panda was actually with my best friend from high school and her now fiancé after we did that Game of Thrones filming locations bus tour. We all sat down for dinner, exhausted from the day, giggling over her fiancé editing that one cave photo on his phone so that I could look like I was birthing a shadow baby. Because I had such a fun time with my friends, eating some cuisine outside the norm of what’s usually offered in Ireland and Northern Ireland, it was especially nice to stop in again after The Open with an hour-and-a-half to spare.
The food is good, too! My boyfriend and I were talking really recently about Chinese food because both he and my family really enjoy it; I, however, tend to be a bit more picky. I don’t know whether it’s the MSG or if it’s fried, but I usually get a stomach ache whenever I eat it. When I was in Belfast with friends, though, I don’t recall getting any sort of stomach ache, which was all the more reason I decided to stop again on my own! We didn’t experiment too much with what we ordered, though there are a lot of fun things on the menu! We ended up doing a couple traditional chicken dishes, rice plates, and lo mein, and everything we ordered was delicious. If I’m ever back in Belfast and have a hankering for Chinese food, I know where I’ll stop!
Have you ever been in another country and craved something totally other than the local speciality? Let me know! Subscribe in the e-mail submission box below and reach out, follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and reach out to me on the “contact” page. I’m so happy you're here and that I’ve been receiving a lot of really incredible stories, questions, and feedback from a community all over the globe! Other people’s stories that I’ve gotten to read via e-mail, text, tweet, DM, etc. recently bring me such smiles, and I am so grateful for all of it! I hope I get to hear all about whatever stories you’ve been thinking about as we’ve been on this virtual journey together! Also, I've said it before and I'll say it again, if you have any restaurants/eateries/pubs/coffee shops/ice cream joints/theatres/lookout spots you would recommend in other countries or even in your current home town or city, I'm absolutely 100% all ears!! I couldn’t do this without you! So THANK YOU! From the bottom of my heart, truly, thank you.
P.S. - here are those desk photos as promised!
P. P.S. - If you want to catch up from the beginning on this series of travel adventures, here's a cheat sheet to the posts (in order in which they were published):
1. Won't you join me?
2. grateful for starbucks and sandymount strand
3. Once Upon a December in the National Gallery
4. plant a smooch for that gift of gab
5. may the 4th be with you: Dingle style
6. cinco de mayo: the best Mexican food in Dublin
7. pizza in roma
8. mussolini’s window and the philosophers’ metro stop
9. father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife
10. it's the vatican, not the vatican't
11. spoiler alert: i did not lose my hand
12. more pizza and gelato and Neptune, oh my
13. craft beer, romper season, and volcano magic
14. bus singalongs and the okey dokey karaoke origin story
15. the beginning of the journey to the land of outlander
16. the boy who lived and the musical rapper
17. oh i just can't wait to be kingggg
18. fudge and haggis, quite the dynamic duo
19. the banshee labyrinth... or, my first time trying buckfast
20. the world's most magical toilet
21. gwyneth paltrow's (improv) sliding doors
22. scottish sombreros and jam, thank you
23. bob seger, a cèilidh, and arthur's seat
24. the next maxim cover girl!!
25. you can vote now!!
26. kindness at… the airport??
27. conversations with strangers and #basic meals
28. aren't gas stations amazing?!
29. not just mac's... supermac's
30. American vs. European Cell Phone Providers
31. brown bread ice cream
32. Black Lives Matter
33. technology and theatre
34. a love of Dublin pizza: Manifesto
35. a love of Dublin pizza: Dublin Pizza Company
36. a love of Dublin pizza: with my dad
37. Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness
38. thank you! round 2!
39. a love of Dublin pizza: and every other pizza
40. ahh-oooooh werewolves of london
41. a special london edition nerd alert
42. defying gravity is a WICKED good time
43. that wanker Van Morrison
44. The Cursed Child at the Palace Theatre
45. LA girls love London green juice
46. Super Bowl LII Champs at Wembley
47. champagne fizz and fruity cocktails
48. How-to: DIY Pallet Garden
49. dublin tattoo magic
51. thank you! Maxim round 4!
52. dublin bog bodies
53. dún laoghaire ice cream
54. local celeb sighting
55. 13.1 in Dublin
56. thank you! Maxim round 5!
57. every girl likes a bad boy
58. poolbeg lighthouse
59. conflict, bias, and propaganda in belfast
60. bow to your lord mayor
61. HAPPY HAMILTON DAY!!
62. Maxim Cover Girl Quarter-Finals!
63. gulliver's travels in belfast
64. all aboard the HMS Caroline
65. all aboard the RMS Titanic
66. you know nothing, jon snow
67. cave-born shadow babies
68. afraid of heights?
69. giants and their egos
70. the Kingsroad
71. sunsets in Donegal
72. derry dining chains
73. Maxim Cover Girl Semi-Finals!
74. Spontaneity is Key
75. Dear Nana
75. blasket island centre
76. Nana's blue tin cookies
77. a dance lesson in Dublin
78. dublin to Royal Portrush
79. Shane Lowry's Open Championship