Hello from Ireland! Its the third day in and since we’re leaving Northern Ireland (the U.K) and headed south to Ireland (the country) today, I thought today would be a good point to stop and post (Don’t worry the whole U.K./Ireland has been a bit confusing for us too!). We got into Belfast International Airport on Friday after what felt like a long cramped flight, where not one of the four of us really slept. Looking out the window as we landed, our sleepless night was rewarded with a patchwork of the most vibrant green countryside I’ve ever seen. It was picture perfect and the excitement of a new adventure brushed all the weariness aside.
After getting the keys to our rental car, we made it out to the parking lot. I had rented a “Mercedes or similar” class car thinking it would make the trip a bit nicer. What we basically got however was a beat-up plastic Toyota that is truly only something you would give a 16-year-old who is learning to drive, complete with scrapes and missing door handle. Every few kilometers we think we hear a part falling off that we’ve left behind. What, do we have American Tourist stamped on our foreheads?!
After a good laugh we piled in and headed North to the small town of Bushmills. Our first stop was a diner where I had a traditional Irish breakfast which consisted of an egg over easy, baked beans, ham, tomato and hash browns. It was oddly delicious. We then decided the only way to survive the jet lag was to push through and stay awake until 9 or so and then pass out. So it was off to Giant’s Causeway, one of the most spectacular sites I have ever seen. A good strenuous hike led us to these rock formations from lava 60 million years ago. 60 MILLION! The hexagon shapes make you feel like it must be man made concrete but its truly old lava rock. Very cool! It was very windy and kinda scary to climb the rocks but I made it to the top and felt like a hero!
Next stop was the Bushmills Distillery. Nothing like a little jet lag and whisky! At the end of the tour you get a drink so I chose a Hot Toddy (Not quite sure how you spell that one). I like to think you spell it like D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S! Seamus (Shay-Mus) our tour guide gave me the recipe so I can make them this winter.
We then decided, ok maybe we should check into our B&B. So a nice coast hugging drive (Please note when I say drive I am in the backseat shrieking from the strange depth perception and feeling like things are flying at me!). We checked into the Crockatinney Inn, and it was the very image you have in your head when you think Ireland B&B. Charming, local, great gardens, big hearty breakfast etc. Loved it to pieces. After a great dinner in town we hit the hay to prep up for another big day.
So, we woke up and it was off the rope bridge. The bridge was originally created for local fishermen as a way to get on to the small island and catch spawning salmon. It is now a treacherous feat for tourists and provides breathtaking views. A few steps in I had a panic attack, looking down at the rocks and water and swaying in the wind, and decided to turn around. Although once the rest of my group was all on the other side, and children literally were skipping across, I decided to conquer the fear. I made it! The reward was beautiful scenery and a healthy dose of girl power.
Next, we began the drive down the Antrim Coast towards Belfast. Low and behold, a huge group of sheep caught our eye. It was a sheep auction and we just HAD to witness the local action! As we pulled into the parking area, our little car that couldn’t, seeped into several inches of thick country mud and you guessed it, we were stuck. Out of nowhere came four hearty Irishmen clad in Wellies, and along with some help from Floyd, they were able to quickly push us out. But with great risk comes great reward. We got to witness a live Irish farming sheep auction! It was so neat to see how they corralled all the sheep into pens and had a very discreet way of bidding that we couldn’t quite figure out. We were all a little worried that we had somehow accidentally bid and were going to have a lamb riding the rest of the week between Kate and I in the backseat. Definitely a neat stop along out journey.
Next up is Belfast. I think I’ll take a breather here and fill you in on Belfast in another post, so stay tuned!