Today was a LONG day for us. We woke up early, well I did, around 5am. I couldn’t fall back asleep so I got ready to leave and waited for everyone else to wake up, which wasn’t until 8am! Anyway, we left around 9am and decided to eat breakfast on the road. We stopped at gas station that promoted delicious, hot breakfast sandwich meals. Unfortunately they do not have these on Sunday :-(. So after some searching around the Spar, we decided on some egg salad sandwiches, coffee, hot chocolate and muffins. Mine was absolutely disgusting, I think there was enough mayonnaise on the sandwich to make a gallon of egg salad and it wasn’t cheap! Breakfast on the go cost us 11.12 pounds.
Driving Through Ireland – The Coastal Wild Atlantic Way
We decided to take the A2, also called the Coastal Wild Atlantic Way, from Belfast to Ballycastle. This alteration of our route increased our trip by 1 hour, but sights were beautiful and the views breathtaking and well worth the extra time. (Not if you ask the kids though)
Coolest Attraction in Ireland
Our first stop for today was the Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge which costs a family of 2 adults and 2 children 17.50 pounds. Carrick-A-Rede means the rock in the road and was a sea route for salmon – this makes it an optimal fishing place. This bridge allowed the fishermen access to catch the migrating salmon. We encountered some fog and rain while crossing the 20 meter long bridge. There was a 1 km (.62 miles) walk from the ticket booth to the bridge. This doesn’t seem far, but the terrain was wet, uneven, and hilly. So by the time we reached the bridge we were getting tired. Nevertheless the view was amazing and the bridge was fun to cross and not scary considering my fear of heights. The kids were actually jumping on the bridge, picture kids on a playground, even though we were 30 meters (or 98.4 feet) above the water!
Game of Thrones Spoiler Alert
We also explored the Whitestone Quarry that included an Iron Age fort built around 800AD. The kids had fun exploring the ruins. Of note, the parking area was used in Game of Thrones in the scene where Renly Barathean set up his camp before he was murdered (hope I didn’t spoil anything for anyone).
As we drove along the A2 to Giant’s Causeway we encountered some heavier rain and were cold and wet from crossing the bridge, so we saw a cute restaurant on the road and decided to stop to eat. It was perfect and we took a seat right by the wood burning fire. We had a delicious Irish meal of fish and chips and shepherd’s pie while my daughter had a hamburger and chips (fries). Lunch 24 pounds, warming up by the fire priceless.
Second Coolest Attraction in Ireland
We made it to Giant’s Causeway and it was steadily raining. It costs a family 26.25 pounds to park, use the facilities, enjoy the exhibits and use a self-guided audio recording. The causeway is a World Heritage Site in Northern Island made up of more than 40,000 interlocking columns resulting from volcanic activity. There is a legend that the causeway was built as a bridge for giants (hence the name Giant’s Causeway). The legend is that Finn MacCool, an Irish giant, was challenged by a Scottish giant to a fight, and so Finn built the causeway so they could cross the water (the North Channel) and fight. Finn was scared though and so pretended to be a baby when Benandonner, the Scottish giant, came to fight. When Benandonner saw how big Finn’s “baby” was he was scared to see how big Finn would be, and ran away destroying the causeway. The kids had a great time climbing on the columns, despite their slippery surface. As we walked around the red trail the height of the narrow path was higher and steeper and there was no rail! As I said earlier, I have a real fear of heights…so I started to become very nervous, almost sick especially when the kids would run and slip. Oh my gosh! But we made it!
Checking Out Some Castle Ruins in Ireland
It was getting late, but we wanted to see the ruins of the Dunluce Castle in Antrim, Northern Ireland. The castle had closed, but we explored the exterior and took some neat pictures while imagining how it would have looked when it was built in the 13th century. The castle sits perched high on the coast with steep drops all around the castle. It is said the have inspired Cair Paravel in the Chronicles of Narnia.
Ireland GPS Epic Fail
As I mentioned in an earlier post, our borrowed GPS has been great getting us to visitor sites and attractions. It has NOT been able to give us directions to our AirBnBs though. We put in the addresses and it tries to take us to the United Kingdom…across the sea! My information I printed about this AirBnB didn’t have any landmarks noted, so we couldn’t find it at all!, and remember we don’t have working cell phones. We looked at our free map provided by AAA and identified that we needed to head towards Londonderry. So we put that in and headed on our way. We decided to eat dinner at a fast food place, McDonald’s since it offers wifi, and log onto my phone and get directions. We left the castle around 6pm and got to the McDonald’s in Londonderry around 7:30…to find out it was in a mall and therefore closed. Urgh! So we found another McDonald’s and spent 20 pounds! You would think as an American we would know McDonald’s enough to save some money, but the menu was confusing with different options and so many options not even listed. Signing into the wifi was also difficult since we don’t have cell phone reception to receive the temporary code. But after some work, we got it to work and got the directions to the AirBnB.
We finally arrived at the AirBnB at 8:45pm after driving on roads the kids referred to as “roller coaster” roads. You know the ones you can’t see the other side until you are speeding down them? Yes, we were all feeling a bit queasy when we reached the house. But, Wow! It was marvelous and definitely the best we have ever stayed in. The host was there and welcomed us and described all the workings of the house. He even left us some fresh farm eggs, milk, juice, bread, and coffee and tea for breakfast as well as some adult drinks (the heavy stuff) for a nightcap. We enjoyed the amenities and rested a bit before heading to bed. At the end of the day my fitbit indicated that I had taken 16,320 steps and walked 107 floors, where 1 floor equals 10 feet. That’s climbing up 1,070 feet in one day! Tomorrow we are heading to Galway by way of Donegal.