Today, you’re going on a trip with me to the Northern Ireland. To the most northern point of this Emerald isle and one of the 7 Irish wonders – The Giant’s Causeway. According to the locals, it was built by the Irish giant Finn.
Waking up at 5 am to go on a road trip is no problem, at all. And I mean it. Because, roaaad trip! 🙂 You’re off to see something new and interesting. Since I had another 10 days left before I head back home to Croatia, I’ve decided to see places I haven’t seen yet, but wanted to, because they were in some specific way special.
One of those places was Northern Ireland.
I walked to the Molly Malone statue in Suffolk street, where there were many people waiting for their tours. It was raining and you could see it was going to be one of those days where you won’t see the sun. But it didn’t bother me that much, I was already used to the Irish weather. It wasn’t heavy raining, just the drizzle. There were couple of tour buses and you could hear the drivers yelling: ‘Who’s going to the Cliffs of Moher’, and after a few minutes: For Connemara, over here!’. And then our turn came. Extreme Ireland/Irish Day Tours was taking us to the Northern Ireland. How exciting! A lady with the wet hair came saying: Who’s for Giant’s Causeway, follow me’. And I thought: ‘If I went outside with a wet hair on that weather, my sinuses would probably explode.’ But then again, who knows. I think I should try it one day.
We sat on a bus and the journey begun.
The first stop was Dark Hedges. Sounds familiar? This is a beautiful beech trees avenue which Stuart family planted in the 18th century. Today, this is a famous attraction which is popular not only for it’s beauty but for being one of the location where Game of Thrones was filmed. For those of you watching this popular television series, the avenue represents King’s Road.
Somehow I doubted I would take a photo of the avenue without gazillion people in it, because that’s how it is when you’re going to see famous places. But for some reason, there were not many people there, and our tour guide lady (now with a dry hair), told us to wait for a few moments until the avenue clears up and we actually managed to get some decent photos. Me and buddy Mexican from the bus stayed a bit longer. He was trying to capture his own beauty with millions of selfies, while I was trying to capture the road. And photo by photo, selfie here an’ selfie there and you catch yourselves running to the bus because you hadn’t noticed that everyone left. Thank you Larry the driver and Jennifer the tour guide for not leaving without us (that whole day).
The next stop was Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, the legendary bridge connecting the land with a small Carrick-a-Rede island. The bridge was built from planks connected with rope and strings. It’s 20 m long and 30 m above the sea and for those of you who are afraid of hights, crossing over can be a bit intimidating, especially when it starts to swing from the wind and the footsteps of the people walking in front and behind you. The bridge was built by the fishermen so they could check their salmon fish nets. Since the number of atlantic salmons has dropped, the fishermen don’t catch them anymore and it’s purpose is purely tourist.
Before, the bridge had only one side of the rope to hold on to while crossing, so the fishermen would carry the catch and the equipment in one hand, and used the other one to hold on to a bridge. I cannot imagine doing that, I would even go that far to say it was an adrenaline sport back then. The bridge was used only during summer time and when the winter came, it would be ‘unpacked’ and removed.
Another interesting fact is that there was a volcano here which errupted 60 million years ago. And the mounth of the volcano was at the exact spot where the bridge is.
When we approched the bridge, we had to queue up, because there were people waiting to cross. You’ll also see a few people at the beginning of each side of the bridge, making sure there is no fooling around and that not a lot of people cross it at one time. I started crossing it with a thought of making a video. So I held my phone in one hand and rope in another. After a few steps, when I reached the part where I could actually see the rocks way down and started feeling the wind and the swinging, I instantly took a few steps back. And after the initial pooping my pants, I smiled at people behind me as an apology for this little delay, put my phone in my pocket, gripped the rope with both of my hands and gave it another go. And crossed it. Yeeey.
Looking at this photo now, it doesn’t seem so dangerous. According to me smiling and being so casual, I suspect this photo was taken before I reached that tricky part.
On the other side a little island awaits you. An island with a beautiful view towards the sea and Scotland in the distance. Crossing back the bridge is a bit easier because you know the feeling. I had my heart set on making a video, so I did, a shamefully bad one, because I was scared. But what a nice feeling it is to do something you’re afraid to do. It’s so liberating.
After running towards the bus (again!), it was time for lunch. You’ll never guess where! Fullerton Arms hotel, where the crew from Game of Thrones was eating while shooting the series. And you can see the inside of hotel is decoraded with GoT motifs. If you’re going this way, don’t forget to get the british pounds.
After the refreshement, we went after the main thing – The Giant’s Causeway. The locals believe it’s a magical place, you’ll see now why. There are two stories of how this biggest Northern Ireland attraction came to life. One is the scientific and the other one mythical. No matter which one you choose to believe in, this place is really unique.
First I’ll tell you the scientific one so that you can get the bigger picture of this part of North-East coast of Northern Ireland. It’s 40 000 basalt columns which were created while volcano errupted 60 milion years ago. These columns look like stairs that slowly end up in the sea. Most of them are hexagons. The biggest ones are 12 m high. There are different rock formations like Giant’s boot, The Camel, etc..
The Giant’s Causeway is UNESCO World Heritage Site because it is unique example of high speed cooling and shrinking of lava.
And now an interesting mythical story about the big Irish giant Finn who’s biggest enemy was Scottish giant Benandonner. Finn wants to fight him so he takes parts of Antrim coast and throws it into the sea, to make a passage to Scotland. He yells loudly and challenges Scottish giant for a fight. But as Finn was approaching Scotland, he noticed that Benandonner is huge, bigger than he is, so he ran back home. Finn’s wife Oonagh, dresses Finn as a baby and puts him in the cradle. A furious giant Benandonner enters their house asking for Finn. Oonagh says her husband is still not home and she askes him to be quiet because their baby’s asleep. When Benandonner sees Finn dressed as a baby, he thinks: ‘Wow, if the baby is so big, how big must it’s father be? And runs back to Scotland. Both of the giants destroyed the causeway leaving just small parts of it next to their coasts. And that’s the famous Giant’s Causeway.
I kind of prefer this story 😉
On our way to Dublin, we had one more stop left. A short visit to the home town of the Titanic. The capital and the biggest town of Northern Ireland.
Last year when I was in Belfast, I went to the Titanic museum. You can read more about this here: https://www.facebook.com/Gate32travelblog/posts/862913810428767
I hope I managed to get you closer to some beautiful natural wonders of Ireland. Soon, I’ll be taking you to another voyage in Ireland. Till then, stay hungry for some new stories and some new photos from our beautiful Earth…
A big thank you to Extreme Ireland for taking me to this voyage. You can book one of their tours at https://www.extremeireland.ie/