Friday, May 8, 2015

Twas a grand day so it was

Visiting the Giants Causeway on the north coast of Northern Ireland has been on my "bucket list" for a very long time.  Back when I was planning this trip I knew Ireland would be on the agenda at some point but didn't know when.  Things worked out and here I am. 

I booked a day trip from Belfast with Paddy Wagon Tours...for 25 pounds I felt it was good value.  We were due to be picked up at 10 a.m. at the Europa Hotel (at one time the most bombed hotel in Europe and the world having endured 28 bomb attacks - due to journalists staying in the hotel - more press attention you see)  The bus rolled in about 15 minutes late as it was coming from Dublin (over a 12 hour tour for them - ugh no thanks) and a couple on the tour were late getting back on the bus from their earlier coffee break. (they did it again at our bridge stop and the driver/tour guide read them the riot act - they were on the bus before everyone else at the next stop!).  We headed up the motorway to mixed sun and cloud but then the sun came out in all its glory. 

First stop was a place called the Dark Hedges.  Built as a roadway up to a Manor house it has trees on each side - designed to impress the lord of the manor's visitors.  It featured in an episode (Season 2, program 1 to be precise) of Game of Thrones - a show I have never watched.   It was rather funny as we all lined up to take a photo of the line of trees and someone on the bus had gotten out ahead of us and was standing a few yards down the road in our way taking photos.  We all just stood there waiting for her to realize until I finally I yelled "excuse me" and waved my hand for her to move.  She started to move and with that a few people from a private car strode in front so that is why I have people in my would be more impressive with leaves on the trees but to be honest it didn't wow me that much and I took more photos of the surrounding countryside. 

Our next stop was the Carrick-a-Rede bridge.  I opted not to go over it nor walk to it as we only had an hour and apparently it was a 45 minute walk to get to the bridge.  I was having a bad knee day.  So I opted to walk around and take photos of the fabulous scenery.  I must mention here that I sat beside a lady from Australia who at first seemed quite stand offish in the beginning but we ended up "hanging out" together from the bridge on.  Di had arrived from Australia the night before - I can't even imagine doing a 12 hour tour the day after a long flight and she was older than me.  I have to give her credit.  Anyway here are some photos...

Can you believe these views?  The weather was absolutely amazing as you can see....

After an hour and fifteen minutes (we had to wait for the tardy couple) we carried on to the Giants Causeway which was just twenty minutes away.   It is called the Giants Causeway due to a legend of two giants.....and here I quote from the Causeway webs site...

A story about the legendary giant who built the Giant’s Causeway has been told for generations.  The giant was 54 foot tall and he was called Finn McCool. This is the anglicised version of his Irish name Fionn mac Cumhaill. Although he is part of the Causeway creation myth, Finn features as the leader of a band of warriors called the Fianna in Irish stories that may date as far back as the third Century A.D.

The Causeway story tells us that Finn lived happily on the Antrim coast with his wife Oonagh until he discovered he had a rival in Scotland known as Benandonner.   Finn was frequently taunted by Benandonner from afar and on one occasion Finn scooped up a clod of earth and hurled it across the sea at him but missed.  The huge clod of earth landed in the middle of the Irish Sea making the Isle of Man and the depression formed from scooping up the earth filled up with water to become Lough Neagh.
Finn finally challenged Benandonner to a proper fight and decided to build a causeway of enormous stepping stones across the sea to Scotland, so that he could walk across without getting his feet wet. But as he approached and caught sight of the great bulk of Benandonner, Finn became afraid and fled back home, with Benandonner hot on his trail. In his haste as he ran, Finn lost one of his great boots and today it can be seen sitting on the foreshore in Port Noffer where it fell to the ground.
The story takes a humorous twist when Finn asks his wife Oonagh to help him hide. Clever Oonagh disguised Finn as a baby and pushed him into a huge cradle, so when Benandonner saw the size of the sleeping ‘child’, he assumed the father must be GIGANTIC. Benandonner fled home in terror, ripping up the Causeway as he went in case he was followed.
The story concludes that this is the reason that the Giant’s Causeway exists in north Antrim, with similar columns at Fingal’s Cave on the Scottish island of Staffa.

Once there Di and I spied a shuttle bus so paid the two pound return fare and saved ourselves some time (and shoe leather) by taking the bus rather than walking down to the causeway.  Once there we walked out onto the stones....

You know there had to be a dog right?

Due to vertigo and bad knees I did not wander far.  We did walk up a hill though as the path was really good and got some great views of the area...

We had two hours there and it flew by much too quickly.  Taking a car and spending the day would be the ideal but there's no way I was going to rent a car!  And this is it for me; I won't go could I when I had the perfect day?  It is raining more often than not so I was so lucky....

Finn McCool's boot

Finn McCool's shoe print in the rock? 

On the way back to the bus I had to take some more pictures.  It was strange as Di said do you want to get this bus and I said no I want to take more photos and she rolled her eyes.  And I thought (but didn't say) "hello, I just met you a few hours ago...go do your thing lady and let me do mine". Geesh!! 

Back on the bus again and lastly was the Dunluce Castle hanging onto a cliff can only tour it with a guide...we just had a photo viewing which was fine by me.  The sun was the wrong way however so it doesn't show it in all its glory.  And with that we headed back to Belfast...yes it was a grand day. 

1 comment:

Lisa Natterer said...

Great, that you saw this special place in all its glory and were able to take these lovely photos with blue sky!