Ireland: Part 2 – Northern Ireland & Giant’s Causeway
May 16, 2013 § 1 Comment
Before I go any further I strongly recommend that you all check out my mother’s Flickr stream set as well as mine. She took some amazing photos. Not everything is up there yet (just Glendalough and the Giant’s Causeway) but she focused on entirely different things than me. And of course I am not posting anywhere near the amount of photos I actually took (I came home with about 1350 or so).
Now we woke up early due to going to sleep early. No surprise there! Besides we needed to be on the road. It was just about 3 1/2 to 3 3/4 hours to the Giant’s Causeway from our hotel.
But first the breakfast buffet at Gordon Ramsey’s. Lots of traditional full Irish breakfast items. I still dream about this breakfast.
There is wine poached pears, scrambled eggs, smoked salmon, prosciutto sausage, black pudding, a scone and a croissant. And yes I actually like black pudding, I have had it before. I am not sure where to get it here at home as I have always had it on vacation in other parts of the USA. Sad considering how many Irish settled in this part of the US. Including my ancestors.
From there it was time to drive north. A pleasant drive. The beautiful thing about driving anywhere in Ireland or Northern Ireland is all the signs! Signs for everywhere and easy to follow! Not at all like the US.
The beautiful part of our drive just surprised the hell out of me. We drove up near Portrush, which is on the northern coast, popped out over a hill and BAM ocean. It was absolutely stunning!
We drove along Dunluce Road/the Giant’s Causeway Road just a few kilometers (Portrush is like 10 miles from the Giant’s Causeway) and found the visitor’s center easily. Again, lots of signs!
Once you pay to get in there is a little cafe (didn’t eat, no idea if the food was any good, but it looked good), a gift shop, a diorama of the coastline and interactive displays explaining the history, cause and anything else you could want to know about it.
I won’t bore you with the science but I will say this. Yes, this is a natural phenomenon. It’s what happens when lava is allowed to cool slowly and evenly. These are natural basalt pillars and they crack both vertically and horizontally. At least according to the tour-guide I eavesdropped on because I was too cheap to pay for a tour! They do give you free audio guides but I have never been one for those so I bypassed it entirely. And this is a large example of it but there are formations like this all around world.
Instead I took photos and video.
To give you a better idea of how everything is laid out there on the coast check out this YouTube video. A £1 bus ride (each way) will take you down there and back. But it is only a 700 meter walk down a hill from the visitor’s center to where the bus drops you off. It was much easier to walk down and hitch a ride back up.
I absolutely loved this place! Definitely my favorite of everything we saw, even the Cliffs of Insanity…er…Moher. I strongly recommend the visit if you are in Ireland. And don’t let people talk you out of it just because it is 4-ish hours from Dublin OR in Northern Ireland (which means a whole different form of currency, etc.)
After we got nice and cold (it was in the 40s, raining and windy so we got cold quickly and it wasn’t the full stay I wanted as a result) we headed back to the visitor’s center to see if there was anything else we wanted.
Then it was onto Dunluce Castle. Originally we were going to tour the castle but it was too damn cold. Period. So we took a few photos and moved on back towards Belfast.
We drove around Belfast a bit trying to get our bearings and/or find a place to eat. We were too late to do the Titanic museum unfortunately. It would have been interesting. And it was the after work crowd so the streets were packed which means I didn’t get to see any of the Troubles graffiti either.
Ultimately we found a takeaway that seemed popular with locals and ordered fish and chips. Oh, this was very good!
From Belfast we drove on towards our hotel, stopping in Newry. Newry is the last major town/city before you hit the invisible country line between the UK and Ireland. Time to blow the rest of my Sterling Pounds as I wasn’t bringing them home with me or exchanging them. I just hadn’t brought that much! So we got gas and I bought a bunch of junk food. That’s the way to blow cash, right? It was there that my mother ran into a helpful local who informed us that “if you want to party you go to Dublin, if you want a view you go West and if you want trouble you go to Belfast”! And I saw my only Troubles-related graffiti.
Once we got back to the hotel a little before 8 we went swimming in that beautiful pool. Then it was TV and bed, exhausted.
Up next: Dublin!