As I enjoyed writing the posts about Belgium, Kauai and Palm Springs, I thought I would write a few posts about other places I have visited. Some of these will be partly from memory, which at my age is starting to fail (or maybe it’s already failed – I can’t remember).
I’ll start with a trip I enjoyed to Northern Ireland a few years ago.
At the time I was still living in England so this was an easy hop over the Irish Sea to Belfast as the starting point of the trip. Belfast wasn’t a pretty city as such (not that we investigated it very much) it one of those cities coming out of an industrial and heavy shipping/ship building past with new developments on old sites. It also suffers still from the ‘Troubles’ with heavily fortified police stations and remnants of a divided society. We didn’t see any signs of recent violence or anything and I wouldn’t say that side of the city had any impact on us. This is a developing city which I am sure has a lot to offer the visitor so please don’t avoid it.
We took a hire car to our small town accommodation in Ballycastle travelling via the causeway coastal route. It was suggested that this road was more picturesque and interesting than the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) and we weren’t disappointed. Now that I have experienced both I would tend to agree that Ireland has the edge; it’s shorter and the weather has a bigger impact but it is beautiful.
Ballycastle was a small town with all that you would need for a holiday/vacation base. This was a self-catering trip and we were staying in a small apartment right on the coast.
As an aside this trip was the result of a family vote where each of us submitted their idea and this was my daughter’s suggestion.
The Causeway Coast get’s it name for the famous Giant’s Causeway which is at the northern end and is formed of a number of basalt rock formations. Legend says that the causeway used to link to Scotland and two giants had an argument which turned into a fight destroying the link. Visitors have to walk down to the causeway from the visitor centre which is an amazing modern building built into the landscape so that it barely seems to appear until you go inside. I can’t remember but I think there was a shuttle bus available for those with walking difficulties. The walk is worth it as there are nice views and features along the way. Once there you are free to explore the rocks themselves. The formation is very interesting and there are a number of features called out with names like The Organ Pipes. Don’t be too scared about the weather, it was rainy when we walked down but before we headed back the sun came out giving us glorious wet sunny sights.
There are other sites close by including the Carrick-a-rede rope bridge which is a slightly scary traverse on a swinging rope bridge to a desolate island.
As a whisky lover I could not pass up the tour of the bushmills distillery which is close by. It was very interesting to get a full explanation of the process and have the difference between Irish whiskey and Scotch whisky clarified (and it’s not just the spelling). I followed it up with a tasting experience which was well worth the extra money and meant myself and one other guy had what felt like a private audience with one of the distillers who showed us the ins and outs of all the whiskeys that Bushmills make.
On the way back we stopped at the Titanic Belfast which is housed in another boldly designed building. Unfortunately we were too late to take the tour so made do with exploring outside. There is a massive sign saying Titanic which you can stand under and get your photo taken.
I realised that unless you got the whole word into your picture it looked like you were presenting yourself as a massive TIT 😀
Northern Ireland has a beautifully rugged coast with lots of interesting places to find. We didn’t go much inland on our short trip but there seemed plenty to go and explore there too. It is guaranteed to rain at some point no matter the season but if you are prepared it isn’t too much of a problem and we found the weather changes quickly so you are likely to get some lovely sunshine too. It is definitely a place I would like to revisit.