And we’re back! If you’re reading on from the last blog, great! If not, this may not make sense, but I will encourage you to read it regardless. Let’s begin.
Saturday morning we woke up from the hostel, which was pretty stuffy and warm as there was 8 people sleeping in it and packed our bags to get back on the bus for the day. Before we left the hostel served us a small, but free (included in the tour price) breakfast of toast and cereal. It was ok, besides the 20 minute line and constant people butting ahead. I mean, it was food and I was hungry, so it was fine with me.
Around 9 we hopped back onto our bus and headed to the Dark Hedges. Apparently this is a pretty big deal for Game of Thrones fans, as half of our bus was completely freaking out and talking about the show on our way there. I do not know the show whatsoever, and therefore didn’t have the same type of excitement, but I had seen pictures of it online and was most certainly looking forward to it. The hedges themselves were beautiful, yet mysterious at the same time. The beech trees that make up the hedges were planted along the laneway of homeowners who wanted a nice laneway to their house. You’d expect the house to be a castle of sorts with this intricate of a driveway, but it’s definitely not. The driveway is now a popular road and tourist attraction, and therefore was pretty busy with other tourists as well as a bike race. Besides the traffic, it was a very beautiful sight and very interesting to get lost tracing the branches of the entangled trees.
Following this, we drove out to the coast to the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. The landscape was completely gorgeous and reminded me a lot of the Cliffs of Moher. The escapement was very rocky and consisted of mostly cliffs, but was also a beautiful shade of green, as most of Ireland is. It was at least a 20 minute hike down to the rope bridge which lead us to Carrick-a-Rede island. It rained lightly for most of the hike there, but cleared up just before we reached the bridge. The rope bridge was surprisingly smaller than I’d expected, but the island was pretty cool once you got over. Calling it an island might actually be an exaggeration, as it was more a big rocky cliff with a grass top. I stood on the edges of the cliffs and took some great photos to scare my mother (it helps her stay young, I think) and enjoyed the ocean breeze. A while later we all got back onto the bus and head for the next destination.
We drove another hour or two to the Giant’s Causeway, which is another popular tourist destination in Northern Ireland. The Causeway was a 15 minute hike from the parking lot, but once again the views were breathtaking. The Causeway is quite possibly one of the coolest rock formation-things I’ve ever seen. All the rocks are hexagonal columns and all fit together perfectly like a puzzle. Because they are all very similar in shape and are all different heights they almost seem like stairs, and make it really easy to climb around and get down to the ocean. Unfortunately once again it was very busy with tourists, there were at least 100 if not 300 people there while we were, but it was worth seeing most definitely. I was fascinated by the little tidal pools that formed against the shore and spent a few minutes scoping out the different plants and shellfish that were contained in the pools. The tour had scheduled an hour and a half here, so when we were done seeing what we wanted to see we enjoyed some fresh air and some much appreciated sunshine.
Sometime later (I think.. it could have been before the bridge but I can’t recall) we stopped for lunch at a pub in a small town. I enjoyed a nice hot bowl of traditional Irish stew which I’m getting quite used to and quite fond of. It’s pretty plain, just potatoes, carrots and beef usually, but is very comforting.
The bus then took us to Derry where we were staying for the evening at another hostel. Somehow the hostel situation got pretty mixed up and they had to split the bus up and send 3 people to one hostel, 8 people to another and 16 to the original hostel. My 3 friends volunteered for the hostel needing 3 people and they definitely got the short end of the stick. Their room had 3 sets of bunk beds 3 beds high, and they woke up to a drunken naked man trying to pee in their garbage. By some miracle, Erin and I and 6 other girls got put into a Victorian style B&B. The rooms were gorgeous, formal and quite large in size. We got even luckier when we were given our own room to share with an ensuite bathroom and seperate beds (Erin even let me have the larger double bed).
At 6:30 we went on a walking tour of Derry and learned about the history of the city and the troubles it went through (very similar, yet not as extreme as Belfast). Derry also has city walls and propaganda, but the walls have open gates that don’t close, and the two sides of town are divided by a river which now has a bridge joining both sides.
We ended the tour outside the restaurant we were eating at, Spaghetti Junction, and enjoyed some Italian food for dinner. There was an optional pub crawl afterwards, but the only place Erin and I were crawling was into our nice comfy beds in our B&B. With both of us recovering from colds and spending the whole day walking, we were exhausted and ready to cuddle into bed.
Stay tuned for part 3!!