, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Sorry about the radio silence recently, so to speak. Since the start of December I have been running around like a headless chicken, first moving out of my Brisbane apartment, then going home to Canada for Christmas, then moving over to London and then trying to start organizing a life in the UK. Okay enough excuses, I promise to try to be better now that I actually have things to write about! So on that note…..

In Brisbane I work with a nurse who is from Augher, a small town about an hour outside of Belfast. After a glass or two of wine at the Christmas party, it occurred to me that maybe I should go and visit her while she was home for Christmas since I was moving to the UK. I’m at my best in planning mode so, after gaining her approval, I set about planning my trip, managing to also take advantage of a high school friend living down in Galway for a visit down that way.

Belfast Airport! No wonder the Irish get the stereotype of drinkers!

Belfast Airport! No wonder the Irish get the stereotype of drinkers!

I flew into Belfast on Aer Lingus (managing to score a whole row of seats to myself!) and my friend picked me up before driving us back to Augher. We went into the grocery store to get me some phone credit and I was beyond excited to discover a Tim Horton’s kiosk inside! Unbelievable really when you consider they don’t have ANY in all of Australia!

Timmy Ho's.....you are one thing I was not expecting to see in small town Ireland!

Timmy Ho’s…..you are one thing I was not expecting to see in small town Ireland!

We spent the first full day not straying too far. I got to experience the lovely smell of a peat fire as that was the main fuel my friend’s family used in their fireplace. God I miss fireplaces-they are glorious, glorious things! We walked around her area (you can’t really say neighbourhood in a rural town) and then went to the American Folk Park. This park tells the story of Irish history and the emigration to America, from the one room thatched cottages to the log houses of the successful emigrants in the new land.

The next day, we drove into Belfast and jumped onto the Hop On Hop Off city bus tour. It was a good way to get a quick overview and history of the city. We saw the Parliament building, the Protestant and Catholic parts of town, the wall murals from The Troubles, the Peace Wall, Queen’s University, Belfast City Hall and the largest celtic cross in Ireland at Belfast Cathedral.

We were also able to stop at the Titanic Museum. I have always been interested in Titanic history for some reason so I was really looking forward to going there. It was a great museum I thought. There was the whole history of the Belfast area and the building of the great ship as well as it’s ill fated journey once it left Belfast and the aftermath of the sinking.

The next day we did a day tour to Giant’s Causeway. Along the way we stopped at Carrickfergus Castle and Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. Now I am quite nervous when it comes to heights (or possibly the long fall down!) so I was nervous about the rope bridge. In fact, I didn’t know if I would even cross it until we got there and I could assess the weather conditions. I didn’t want to be on a swinging rope bridge!

I managed to pluck up the courage to go across and thankfully also to come back! It was nerve racking though and my legs were shaking quite a bit. I just made sure NOT to look down!

Now you see why I was nervous!

Now you see why I was nervous!

After that we stopped for lunch in the Bushmills Distillery. I may or may not have picked up some whiskey souvenirs! After that we headed to Giant’s Causeway. Giant’s Causeway is a World Heritage Site of 40’000 interlocking basalt columns, which scientists say is the result of an ancient volcanic eruption.

The Irish have another view though. The causeway was thought to be created by the giant Finn McCool (or Fionn mac Cumhaill, as a path to Scotland. When the Scottish giant Benandonner came over looking for him, Finn’s wife Oonagh disguised Finn as a baby. When Benandonner saw the baby, he realized Finn must be huge and ran back to Scotland, ripping up the causeway as he went. I’m sure the Scots would have another version 😉

It was a beautiful area and we walked down for about 20 minutes to get to the site. You can climb up the stones and feel the spray as the ocean crashes into the stones. It was a beautiful area, especially as the sun started to drop in the sky.

The beautiful stones of Giant's Causeway

The beautiful stones of Giant’s Causeway

The stones as the sun sets

The stones as the sun sets

I very much enjoyed my time in Northern Ireland and was amazed at how pretty and green it was! I know Ireland is known for being green but….it really is! There was no snow while I was there, a fact which helped the stereotype. I also quite enjoyed having so many potatoes! Potatoes and I are the greatest of friends! Each time we had dinner at my friend’s house, there was at least 2 types of potatoes on offer. That, my friends, is my kind of place!

Thank you Northern Ireland for my lovely experience! Next I head down south to the Republic of Ireland. That post will come soon. If you’ve never been to Northern Ireland, I’d highly recommend it-maybe stay away from certain parts of Belfast though.