When I started writing this post I was sitting at the coffee table in our hotel room as Marisa attempted to go to sleep (she’d been having trouble sleeping on the trip but that has cleared up). I went to bed in hopes of helping Marisa sleep, and then a handful of days passed. We didn’t have internet access in our bubble (more on that in a little bit), so this post has been delayed.
While we were in Belfast we stayed at the Merchant Hotel. We saw so many beautiful things in Northern Ireland it would be easy to forget how nice our stay was. The Merchant Hotel is just wonderful, and all the staff were lovely and helpful (they let us keep our car parked a little while after checkout so we could do some sightseeing without charging us. So nice!).
I don’t think you can truly visit Northern Ireland and not go to the Antrim Coast. As you can probably guess, that’s how spent our day today. Also walking. So much walking.
If you want to see all the pictures I took check out this album. Read on for the highlights!
When I told my friend Sarah that we were headed to Belfast she recommended several things to do. One of them, the rope bridge at Carrick-a-Rede was on our list… but not very high up. Sarah’s enthusiatic recomendation bumped it up and I am very glad to have listened to her.
The entrance to the bridge:
Here we are after having walked across the bridge:
Somehow Marisa managed to lose her ticket on the 1 kilometer walk from the ticket booth to the bridge, but they let us cross anyway.
Fisherman orginally built this bridge, using only three ropes, so they could get to the island and fish using boats like this:
I know I wouldn’t want to have to cross that bridge carrying anything. In fact, I didn’t particularly want to cross the modern bridge without anything in my hands…. especially when I saw some kid hopping across the bridge. I did it and you should too (if you get the opportunity).
Next, the very reason we came to Nothern Ireland in the first place: The Giant’s Causeway. I wanted to go to the Giant’s Causeway when last we visited Ireland, but it is all the way at the north of the island, and so it wasn’t meant to be. This time around I made sure we included it on the agenda, and it didn’t disappoint.
Instead of just going to the Giant’s Causeway we decided to hire a guide and do a 5 mile hike ending up at the Giant’s Causeway. When we arrived at the visitor center (pictured above) and met our guide and found out we were the only people who had signed up for the hike. We also learned that our guide seemed rather dubious about whether we’d be able to do the hike. She kept saying things like, “You know there’s mud” and “This is a 5 mile hike!” And we were all like, “Let’s go!”
And off we went. Here we are at the start of the hike (thanks to our guide for taking the picture!):
The views, as you might expect, were stunning:
And despite her initial thinking that we were not the stuff of 5 mile hikes, our guide was very good. And the hike itself wasn’t all that tough. The path was well laid out, and the grade was pretty level, plus there were stairs for the steep bits.
I remembered about 1.5 miles into the walk that I could track the hike as a workout! So I did, and here’s the hike we took:
The Giant’s Causeway itself is a rock formation made up of these columns of volcanic basalt which were thrust up through fissions millions of years ago. They extend for miles underground, but you don’t usually see them becuase they’re covered with lots of dirt. Here you can see the cliff we’re walking along is made of the same stuff we’re walking to see:
The Giant’s Cause itself is mostly covered with people these days. It is an amazing site, and I’m glad so many people visit… but once we got there we were doubly glad to have hiked. We encountered about 3 other people on our 5 mile hike. We found all the people at the end of the hike:
This did make getting pictures without people in it difficult, but our guide managed to take a picture with these two jokers:
I did get a bunch of pictures without other people in them:
The pictures don’t do the place justice. Well worth a trip to Northern Ireland. Plus the visitor center makes a mean bowl of Irish stew (one of my favorite things).
Now, since I don’t want to gain 40 pounds on this trip I’ve decided to walk at least 20,000 steps a day. So far, so good but Day 3 was a banner day: