Today it is cold and blustery outside. I am barricading myself in for the day, with no plans to get out of my pajamas, so I figure this would be an opportune time to finish off the last post from our European travels. It doesn’t seem that long ago that we were overseas, but it was the Fall of 2013. How time flies. This particular day that i’ll be writing about was one of the most surprising days for me because I never knew how gorgeous this part of the world really was.
Our last day in Ireland wasn’t actually spent in Ireland. It was spent in Northern Ireland. I am so glad we decided to do another tour with Wild Rover Day Tours, because this may have been my favorite tour. The scenery was some of the most beautiful of the entire trip in my opinion. If you’re interested in the specifics of what tour we actually chose click here.
We started out in Dublin, where a coach picked us up and we headed north to Belfast in Northern Ireland. On this particular day, we ran into a little trouble making it to Belfast due to a bomb threat on the main motorway, so our awesome drivers diverted us best they could to make it to the first stop. We lost lots of time, however, so the tour ended up changing up a bit out of necessity.
Listening to the tour guides talk about the conflict in Northern Ireland was really enlightening, because I was unaware of how much conflict still exists today, even though it may not be as bad as it once was. They were telling us that the bomb threats are almost always, just that, threats, made by young and very angry teenagers, but they have to take every threat seriously. We weren’t at all scared and never felt unsafe, but it was surreal to be driving through the city of Belfast and having the drivers pointing out stuff like, “the most bombed hotel in the world” and things of that nature. I was surprised because when I hear things like that I expect to see signs of destruction, and there were none.
Our first stop was where the tourists had an option to either go to the Titanic exhibit center or take a private black taxi tour and learn about the political issues. We chose Titanic! Where they built this center is actually the site where the Titanic was constructed. Pretty awesome to be looking out into the docks and know the Titanic launched from there. The center was really neat, filled with information and exhibits, but I didn’t take many pictures at all. I deliberately put my camera away to be able to take it all in. There wasn’t as much time to spend there as there normally would have been because of the delay, so we made our way through pretty quickly, grabbed lunch in their cafe, and hopped back on the bus.
Fun little factoid about that hilly mound above, this was said to be a source of Jonathan Swifts inspiration for Gulliver’s travels because it resembles a Giant man’s face (in profile view) trapped in the hillside.
Continuing on northward and driving along the Antrim coast, our next stop was the Giant’s Causeway. This coastal drive from Belfast to the Causeway was breathtaking and was the only time the whole trip where I kind of wished we had rented a car. If you go, you may want to consider doing so, in order to be able to stop for the views whenever you want. Most of what we saw was from the seat of a coach, but still very enjoyable. The drivers did make a few stops for photos.
Arriving at the Giant’s Causeway World heritage site, we had about 2 hours to explore, and explore we did. There is a bus that can take people right down to the main part of the causeway which was about a mile down the road. Even better, there are various trails you can take so that is what we chose to do. We decided to head up the hill to the cliffs to get a good view of the rock formations from up there. A MUST SEE view if you are an able bodied person but be prepared to hike.
From here on a clear day, you can easily see Scotland (Below).
The below picture is the view behind the cliffs. Very picturesque.
We made our way down the trails to get to the water.
These weird and wacky rock formations were so incredible to me. We had a fun time hopping from rock to rock. My advice, if you want to explore the rocks on foot, is to bring a pair of shoes with a good grip. Tennis shoes would be slippery on the rocks. My boots were fine.
We left there to head back to Dublin.
We were supposed to have seen this castle earlier in the day, but our guides tried their best to let us get a good look before the sun went down. This is Dunluce Castle. Very ancient and I didn’t get a real good picture but it was nice to see the sunset over the castle.
This ended the trip for us. We were sad to leave Europe, but sort of ready to sleep in our own bed. Thanks for following along throughout all these posts. I now dream of future trips back to Europe…