Derry: Inside, outside & on the Walls!
Last month I got to visit Derry again, it had only been a few months since my last trip, but boy is this city changing at a great pace. Each time I visit there is something new and it's fantastic to see. In February I was taken around the newest hotel to the inner walled area of Derry City, and proudly the first privately owned hotel within the walls, the Bishop's Gate Hotel.
Sporting a delightful hard hat I wondered how they were going to get this beauty of a building (it was once a Gentleman's Club in its day) finished but finish it they did and to an excellent standard. The original revolving doors welcome you in and the muted colours create a relaxed atmosphere as the reception offer a cheery .... As the grand staircase draws the eyes to a beautiful stained glass window. The rooms are modern yet relaxed and the bed's very comfy. With two restaurants named 'Wig' and 'Gown' (the Courthouse is next door), there is plenty of food to choose from and the wine list is plentiful. It is wonderful to see this beautiful grand old building come back to life and the first privately owned boutique hotel within the city walls.
When I started the Belfast Food Tour, the one tour I constantly heard of and very much wished to go on, was the Martin McCrossan Tour of the Derry walls. Martin's personality, knowledge and passion for his home town was relayed through social media and he had a reputation that I could only hope for. Sadly Martin passed away before I got a chance to meet him, but his family have picked up the mantle and I was very happy to finally take to the Derry walls with Garvan McCrossan, Martin's brother. What a tour! I really, thoroughly enjoyed every moment, even when it poured and I can't recommend it enough.
Food wise, I have so much more to discover, which is the best bit but don't miss Pike and Pomme, right on the riverside (go to KFC and walk along the Foyle to the right) and you'll happen upon delicious local dishes, I had the bao bun with locally sourced slow cooked pork - deeeeelish!
I may have had 4 other dishes but you know, it was too tough to choose so I had the entire menu, seriously, I did :| Another stop not to be missed is the Walled City Brewery in Ebrington Square. As I sat drinking their vast selection of beers with the wittiest names I have ever seen for beers such as 'Cherry/Londoncherry' or 'Derry Milk' a milk chocolate stout and dined on their little tasty dishes, it wasn't lost on me that only a few years ago, this would never have been imagined.
To understand Derry, you must learn about its history, only then do you realise how far this city has come and as the tourists flock, new restaurants open (Harry's is coming!), and even a food tour starting, I will be watching and hopefully visiting, both personally and professionally with guests, much more often.