Northern Ireland

nire 1Belfast is only two hours from Dublin by train, and Northern Ireland is home to two beautiful sites – Giant’s Causeway and Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge. You can drive, or get there via a Railtours tour, which I’ve taken. Railtours is affiliated with the company that runs the train system in Ireland, and you own guide, your own car on the train to Belfast, and then your own personal tour of Northern Ireland, all in a day. Belfast is part of the UK, so bring British Pounds.

Once off the train in Belfast, we along the stunning coastline seeing the Glens of Antrim and the Irish Sea. We drove through many small towns on the way. They’re Protestant or Catholic towns and you can tell which by what flag they’re flying (Union Jack for Protestant and the Republic of Ireland colors for Catholic).

nire 2We stopped at Carrickfergus Castle photos. The castle is a 12th Century Norman Castle adjacent to an ancient harbor.

The next stop, the Carrick-a- Bridge, is a stunning area. It’s a one km walk along the coast from the parking lot to the bridge, and it costs £4 to cross the bridge to the island. If you are a bit adventurous, it’s worth the money. It was incredibly windy, though not really cold, and the bridge sways as you cross it. There are guides stationed at either end to keep too many people from crossing at once. Our guide told us only 1 living creature – a dog – has fallen from the bridge and he survived and swam back to shore. The bridge was used originally by salmon fishermen.

We continued on to Giant’s Causeway which consists of unusual formations created by lava, waves and lots of seafoam, which is pink. You can either walk down to the Causeway, or pay £1 (each way) to take a shuttle bus.

nire 3The tour also includes a stop at Bushmills Distillery, billed as Ireland’s oldest whiskey distillery, but we didn’t tour it, only shopped at the gift shop.

 

Finally, there is a photo stop at Dunluce Castle, a 15th century castle built on a cliff. During a dinner party, the kitchen fell into the sea and several staff died. It was never used again and fell into disrepair. You can see Donnegal beyond it on a clear day. Tours are available at Bushmills and Dunluce Castle if you are traveling independently.nire 4.

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