Saturday, June 13, 2015

Ireland Day 8

Today was one of those days I am going to remember for a long time. It was just incredible. After a wonderful weekend at Cliffs of Moher last week, I had no expectations that we would have nice weather, especially as Northern Ireland has a reputation to always be a bit drizzly even if it isn't full on raining.

Our driver picked us up right at 7:30 and we were on our way. We knew this was going to be a very long day of sightseeing but so worth it.  He kept commenting right from the beginning that we were going to have a truly rare and special sightseeing day with this weather.  He said they have maybe 1 out of 100 days with weather this nice up there.

After quite a drive we found our way up to Northern Ireland. Our driver was so full of information and history on the conflicts between Ireland and Northern Ireland.  It has been a crazy history between these two countries but they seem to be on good terms for at least the time being. Although Northern Ireland was full of towns where you could still clearly see based on the flags hanging that they aren't in support of Ireland.  We would drive through cities and he would mention how terrorists are still a huge part of that city but at least they've put the guns down.  Just some crazy, crazy stories shared with us today, covering the entire history of Ireland and Northern Ireland and they've seen some tough days!

But after being on the bus for a couple hours, we arrived at our first destination. Now, I seriously booked this specific touring group because they were the only ones I found who stopped at the Dark Hedges.  I saw these when I was researching Ireland and I really wanted to see them for myself.  They really are quite amazing and mysterious.

Not too far from the Dark Hedges, we found ourselves at Carrick-a-Rede rope bride.  I honestly did not have high expectations for this stop but wow was I blown away!  I think the most beautiful views we've seen this whole trip were from this location. Just gorgeous out there!  


The supposed highlight of this whole place is the rope bridge.  I told Peter I was going to have no part of that, but he made me by buying a ticket and it really wasn't too bad. Although it was a bit bouncy and windy out in the middle of it. 

And then we were on to the main event, The Giant's Causeway.  What a cool place to visit and see! And we were told that it is ALWAYS misting or raining here so the fact that we had dry weather was just incredible! 

I was so impressed with the beauty everywhere we have gone in Ireland.  It is mostly farmland and just a very casual lifestyle. And oh so beautiful!  I love the clouds in the picture below!

And we made a brief stop and learned some of the history of Dunluce Castle.
A local legend states that at one point, part of the kitchen next to the cliff face collapsed into the sea, after which the wife of the owner refused to live in the castle any longer. According to a legend, when the kitchen fell into the sea only a kitchen boy survived, as he was sitting in the corner of the kitchen which did not collapse. However, the kitchen is still intact and next to the manor house. You can still see the oven, fireplace and entry ways into it. It was only until the some time in the 18th century that the north wall of the residence building collapsed into the sea. The east, west and south walls still stand

It's still a pretty cool castle ruin to see! I think what I love most about Ireland is that you can actually imagine all the stories told and battles fought in the area.  It has such a rich and real history.

I feel like this is the perfect picture to represent most of Ireland.  Incredible views, so lusciously green, with cows or sheep grazing in the fields around the houses. 

Before making the long drive back to Dublin, we made a quick stop in Belfast.  Wow, what a history this city has.  It is still in the process of rebuilding after all the bombings that took place there.  But the city seems to be recovering well. Our tour guide pointed out some cool places that I wasn't able to get pictures of, like a clock tower that is leaning more than the tower of Pisa. A prominent university that moved away when all the unrest was happening but is now rebuilding and moving back to Belfast.  And a hotel that was bombed 33 times (more than any other building in the world) and yet is still standing and solid as ever! 

Unfortunately our time in Belfast was very brief, but it is definitely a place I would love to spend more time in.  It looked very beautiful and full of so much history!