Northern Ireland

I arrived at the train station about 10 minutes before we had to leave to go to Belfast.  I was the last one on the train (out of 12 people) and sat at a table with a mother and daughter from Portugal (Solame and Carolina).  It made for a very enjoyable train ride north.  When we arrived in Belfast we made our way over to a spot a couple blocks away and waited for the coach to pick us up.  Because we were a small group, and off season, we joined up with another small group for the tour.

On the coach, I sat with an older lady, Elizabeth from Australia, who was on the train with us and was doing a rail tour through Ireland while visiting her daughter in Ireland.  She was a very nice lady.  We took the scenic route up to the Antrim Coast.  About an hour into our trip we stopped in a village to stretch our legs and get snacks.  I hit the ATM machine and went into the SPAR market to get a drink and snack… they had McVites DARK chocolate biscuits and they were on sale!! Only 75pence for the packet.  Needless to say I bought two packets to take home.  I broke my 10 pound note and now had coins as well.

We made our way to the Carrick – a – Rede rope bridge.  I would love to tell everyone that I crossed it but I started to get a sick feeling right before getting there and although I walked all the way to it and watched people cross it I didn’t do it myself.  It was such a steep hill to get there but the view was great.  The only one from my little collection of friends who crossed it was Solame.  rope bridge

We went to the Old Bushmill’s Distillery for a quick stop to the gift shop before heading on to the Giant’s Causeway.  I looked around, but didn’t have time for the tour, and I didn’t try any either.  It is pretty amazing that it’s been in business, legitimately, for 400 years!

We moved on to Giant’s Causeway and started off with lunch at the hotel.  Our group of four sat together and had a nice meal.  We headed out to the causeway after a quick lunch.  Elizabeth took the shuttle down to the causeway but Solame, Carolina, and I walked it.  It was a steep walk down (at the start) and then fairly flat but it was cold and windy.  I already had put on all my layers, but I was still chilled.   It is just amazing to see the causeway.  I can’t get over how the lava formed into nearly perfect hexagonal rocks, and formed stacks of them.  I ended up walking all the way to the end of the lower cliff path which took me past “the organ” and into “the ampitheater”.  The organ is a spot where the pillars are in the cliff wall and look like an old pipe organ.  It is breathtaking  the organOn my way back to the visitor centre I turned back and was able to find “the giant’s boot”  and then I trekked on back up the steep hill with the wind attempting to blow me backwards.  I made it to the coach with about 5 minutes to spare.giant's boot

After we left Giant’s Causeway we went to check out Dunlace Castle.  That was cool, but the more interesting thing was the top of a church steeple that you can see coming out of the water.  Apparently in the last 200 years an entire village has been overtaken by the sea, when the tide is out you can see the houses there but when the tide is in you can see the top of the church steeple and the peak of another house.  The coast used to be about 1 mile out from where it is now… amazing.extinct town

We hopped on the motorway and headed back to Belfast.  After dropping off the other people from the tour, our railways tour stayed on the bus and get a little tour of Belfast.  Some of the murals are just so scary and honestly I wanted to cry when I think about trying to grow up in a place where you’re constantly surrounded by such an intense presence.mural

On a lighter note we got to see the site where the Titanic was built (no good photos).  We got back to the train station with time to spare and i got a coffee and almond croissant our little group made our way to the train to board.  We talked the whole way back and wished one another safe travels as we parted ways in Dublin.  I learned so much from my fellow travelers; I have Solame and Carolina’s email address so I can send them photos of the boot since they didn’t see it.  Carolina gave me a euro made in Portugal… I wished I had brought my US wallet with me to share some of my coins with her.  She was a sweet girl, only 12 years old and already been to so many places, very lucky indeed.

I got back to my hotel around 11 last night, took a bath and went to bed.  I slept in today (Tuesday) and am now going to go out and check out Dalkey.  Hopefully it lives up to its hype.

So the plan is to have a relaxing day today, eat at the World Cafe, pack my bags and get to bed early.  I have to wake early tomorrow and catch the 5:10 am shuttle to the airport.  I’m looking forward to coming home.  See you all soon!

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