Ireland - Day 4

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Day 4 - August 19, 2018

Waking up to an alarm this morning was not ideal but Katlynn and I had another busy tour day ahead of us. Today we are headed to Northern Ireland, aka the United Kingdom. This tour was to visit Belfast, Giant’s Causeway, and Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge.

Because all the tours depart from Dublin and we decided to stay in Donegal, we had to miss the stop in Belfast. It made more sense for us to meet the tour bus at Giant’s Causeway, which is North, than go back Southeast from Donegal just to sleep to then wake up at 6am to go up to the Northwest. Sounds confusing but it just made the most logical sense. Basically, rather than waking up at 5 AM to catch the Luas to the tour bus for a 3 hour drive, we woke up at 8 AM in Donegal to catch a train and a bus to Giant’s Causeway where we would meet them. Now does it make sense? Lol.

So anyway, Niall drive’s Teddi to the bus station so she can catch the bus back to Dublin. Then he took us to the train station where we rode a train to get onto a bus that then drove us to our location. Once we arrive at the bus station, we realize we only have Euro. We ask an employee if the bus will take Euro and he said no, only British Pounds. Then we realize, since Northern Ireland is technically the UK, they do use Pounds. We had just got out 300 Euro to split that we can’t even use for the day so now we had to find an ATM and get more money out but in British Pounds so that we could buy food and a ticket for this bus.

Once we got that all figured out and go outside to find our bus. We pay for our tickets and ride to Giant’s Causeway. The bus had to make a couple of stops on the way but about 30-45 minutes later we pull up to the hotel and visitors center. We arrive a couple hours earlier than the tour bus. It was great because we didn’t feel rushed and had time to relax before a lot of walking.

We hadn’t ate a huge breakfast beforehand so because we had a couple of hours to waste, we went into the hotel where there was a bar and ordered hot chocolate and scones. Man, were those scones good. So flavorful in itself but once you add the jam and clotted cream…holy carb goodness. An hour passes or so and we still have time left to wait. We decide that even though we’re full, it’s lunchtime and we probably won’t eat again until after 7 PM. So what do we do? Go eat again. The huge, gorgeous dining area was open to anyone visiting Giant’s Causeway to come in and eat. They had a selective menu that only included, a starter, the main buffet, or both as options. I’m sure they have other menus but on this particular day, they were only offering these options.

I’m thinking to myself as we sit here that I am not hungry at all, but we won’t have another chance to eat for like 7 hours so we need to stuff ourselves. Katlynn mistakenly tells our waitress we want to start with a soup. So we get our soups and once we finish that we can head to the buffet. It’s so unfortunate that we ate the scones earlier because I could have done some damage on that food. It was amazing. I was mad at myself that I couldn’t finish it from being so full already. They had three different kinds of meats, potatoes, vegetables….your typical homestyle meal. My stomach is growling as I type this. Neither of us finished half our plates for obvious reasoning. The waitress even asked us if the food was okay because we had each left so much on the plates.

Timing is perfect, we finish, pay, and head to where the buses are to see two Wild Rovers. We walk up to the drivers and they already knew that we were the stragglers catching up (shoutout to Wild Rover for having good communication skills.) We put our bags on the bus and head to the rocks.

To sum up what Giant’s Causeway is, they are rocks and rock columns formed from an ancient volcanic fissure eruption. As a result, the eruption left all of these amazing rock formations. Even though they are just rocks, they were amazing to see and interact with. It was quite the tourist spot. There were so many people sitting, walking, taking photos, posing, climbing, etc. They did have paramedics and others standing by in case someone got hurt but they also had people telling them to stop climbing or go past a certain point on the rocks. You definitely need to be cautious and aware since you know, they are uneven rocks after all. We spent a whole lot of time sitting, taking photos, and going from spot to spot to get a different perspective. The views were amazing and it was surprisingly a pretty warm day! Perfect weather for touring.

It was time to head back to the bus and go to the next spot on the tour, Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge. We got to the pick-up spot and waited outside until we found our tour guide. She had put our backpacks on seats for us so we could sit together. I was nervous about the whole “meeting up with the bus” thing, but everything literally worked out perfectly and could not have gone any smoother.

Once we’re seated, we see our tour guide get off the bus. Turns out she went to look for a couple of people missing but she couldn’t find them so we ended up leaving them behind. Talk about savage, haha. But so many tour buses depart/arrive in Dublin that they could honestly catch any tour bus back (according to our guide.) If anything, this just proves that when you’re on any kind of tour, timing is so so important.

On our way to the next spot, the tour guide came on the speaker to share some history of places we pass and places we have or will visit on the trip. Now…I don’t watch and probably will never watch Game of Thrones but everyone knows they shoot a lot of it in Ireland. So of course, we passed some GoT shooting locations. There is actually a tour through Wild Rover just for GoT location spots for fans to go to. But, Katlynn loves the show so she was pretty excited when we passed some of the spots.

We arrive at the Rope Bridge (which I guess was also a shooting location for GoT) and get off the bus with our ticket (included with the tour.) We walked I’d say like 2 miles to get to this bridge. (click here to learn more about this attraction.) It honestly felt like 10 miles but I can’t complain because what a view that was.

When I googled this attraction, I wasn’t exactly sure how it worked or know anything about it. So when I did research, it seemed so cool, which it was, but it didn’t live up to the hype I had in my head. Basically, it’s this very short bridge (with a very long line) that hangs 100 feet above the sea and connects to this tiny island with nothing on it. However, you can see Scotland across the way on a clear day, which we were lucky to have! We didn’t spend too long on the island before going back across but the views were beautiful and the grass was amazing. It looked like it could have been a painting but in real life!

Once we were finished on the island, we get back in a line to walk the long distance to the bus. Not gonna lie, I was sweating and out of breath by the time we were even halfway there. Going up is sooooooo much harder than coming down!

By the time we arrived back in Dublin, we were starving. So after we were dropped off, we decided to go to a pub called Murray’s Bar. Our guide had said that it’s a great place for food, drinking, live music, and a lot of locals go. When we arrived back in Dublin, the streets were full of crazy sports fans. Limerick and Galway had faced off in the All-Ireland hurling final and it was a HUGE deal for whoever won. Bars were packed, including Murray’s.

On our walk to the bar, we hear some shouting from somewhere around us. We look to our right and see a full on street fight happening between these two guys. Obviously there were bystanders, us included, but no one was doing anything about it. We continue to just stand there because neither of us are about to separate a full on fist fight. Shortly after we spotted this fight, one of the men pick up a random bicycle and launches it at the other guy. Yeah, no thanks! Luckily someone driving by stops, gets out of the car, and tries to separate the men. At that point, we continued walking to the bar.

We walk into a completely packed bar (makes sense since there was a huge sporting event happening). We go downstairs, where it is much calmer, to be seated. The service wasn’t the greatest but the food was really good. I’m glad we ended up coming here because it really submersed us into the Irish culture. People around us were singing Irish songs, shouting, eating, drinking, and just having a grand ‘ol time.

It has been a very, very long but exciting day of travel and we are completely exhausted (what’s new?). We walk toward the Luas and head home for the night. Katlynn has to work the next day but I have a day full of solo touring ahead of me!

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