Serendipity: (from Wikipedia) Serendipity means a “fortunate happenstance” or “pleasant surprise”.
I can’t explain the discovery of the beautiful, little shop of second hand books/cafè “Bookfinders“, situated in the heart of Belfast’s university quarter, with another term or concept. Serendipity.
Two days ago I was reading informations on Belfast, consulting maps and guides, in view of our yesterday visit. I’ve been many times in Belfast during last years – some times only passing by, other remaining for days – so I could say I know the city a bit; nevertheless, as every big city, it reserves continous surprises and discoveries, and the informations you read are never enough. So, by chance, I read on the web about this second hand books shop which is also a bar. In my mind appeared an ambient for snob intellectuals, which mostly I don’t like (and Stevie even less), but I can’t resist to places which mix culture and conviviality, so I decided it was an eventual step during the tour of the city.
I’ll tell to you about our wandering around Belfast in other posts; for the moment you have to know only that: after walking without stops around the city, with broken legs and feet, thirsty and wanting only to go home and rest, we thought to search anyway this little shop of second hand books even if at that point I wasn’t even remembering its name anymore. I only knew it was in University Road and we were around that area; in few time we found it.
When you arrive at the Bookfinders Cafè & Bookshop, already from the outside you understand there’s something special in it: the photo you can see above was taken when we went away and the place was closing, but when we arrived the little courtyard with tables was full of people drinking a tea, reading and chatting with the owner. We went inside to have a look and suddenly we found ourselves in a micro-bookstore full of books from any period, all with a story, dusty and of any genre and dimension. And most of all – those who are readers will understand – inside you could breathe the smell of ancient books, of old paper, which is making us love still so much “true” books. Not only the books, by the way, are ancient: the bookshop opened in 1985, almost 30 years ago!
The atmosphere was very relaxed: the owner, I think the name is Marie, came inside to ask us if we needed anything and, since we were just having a look, she returned outside to chat with a group of people. A man came inside and while he was choosing some books he confessed us he couldn’t live without that place. An italian man (I found out too late, I was too busy nosing in the irish literature section 😉 ) entered, asked something to drink and sat in the cafè part of the shop. And here it is, the cafè part of the shop:
There’s only a word to descibe the place: marvellous. It’s one of those spots in which you know someone wrote a book or composed a poem, or read something beautiful. I regretted very much I wasn’t there earlier with my notebook and colours.
We had a tea and chatted a bit with the owner: when she found out I’m italian she started to list all the cities in Italy she visited; Florence is her favourite because she loves Michelangelo, as her father. Also she showed me a painted portrait of Sergio Leone, telling us that she met him.
I already know that if, at the end, one day I’ll come to live in Belfast, this will be one of my favourite places.
I forgot: other than sit at the tables for a tea or a coffee, you can eat too. If you pass from Belfast don’r miss to visit this place!
Bookfinders cafè & bookshop
47 University Rd
BT7 1ND Belfast
Open Monday to Saturday, 11.00/17.30