Hop on the Tourist Train

Trip Start May 22, 2009
Trip End Feb 16, 2010

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Flag of United Kingdom  , Northern Ireland,
Thursday, July 16, 2009

Shot out of camping hell just as soon as we could (but not before 9am as that was when the office opened so we could get our deposit $ back from the bathroom key). Couldn't even manage to wash the breaky dishes as I didn't want to walk 5min to pay for the water I needed to wash them...grrrrrr.

Despite paying for water, we've noticed that everything is much more affordable.  And not just the change from Euro to Pound coming from the south to the north.  All of a sudden we're able to keep within our budget again which is a great feeling.  We have been told that souther Ireland is the most expensive country in all of Europe.  We shall see about that!

So we set off of the tourist train to 'do' the Northern Coast of Ireland. 

First stop was Dunluce Castle.  This is a beautiful castle complex mostly built and revised in the 16th and 17th centuries, and perched on 30m bassalt cliffs overlooking the ocean with views of Scottish Islands, it is a very impressive building to behold.  One night in 1639 part of the lower kitchen courtyard fell into the sea during a particularly stormy evening.  Fitting that the Dutchess of the day hated the sea and promptly moved out after that incident!

Then it was off to the Giant's Causeway - the #1 attraction in all of Ireland.  And did it ever look it:  souvenir shops, information booths, ice cream stands, bus options, and crowds!  It was all I could do to drag Brian through it to actually see the sight.  Thankfully it was worth it.  If anyone reading this is planning to go - give yourself time.  I didn't want to leave, but we were pressed for time being on our bikes.  But there is so much to see and explore there other than the initial stones.  Even with the limited time it was pretty impressive.  Thousands and thousands of hexagonal steps spreading out towards the sea.  No wonder legends arose about this place. 

The Legend of the Giant's Causeway

The great Irish giant Finn MacCool roamed the north coast where he could see the coast of Scotland where he had heard of a Scottish giant, Benandonner, who was challenging his strength and reputation.  Finn decided that it was time to settle this decisively, but since the 2 giants had never met, they would need to get together and have a battle.  Since the giants were too large for any boat to carry, Finn built a causeway of stones across the water so that they could travel by land and have no excuses for avoiding the confrontation. 

As Big Ben began to approach across the causeway one day, Finn saw to his horror that his opponents was much larger and more fearsome that he'd ever imagined!  He ran back to his
home, and like any sensible man, asked his wife for advice.  Now Oonagh was a practical woman, and disguised Finn as a baby wrapped in hastily made clothes and nestled in a cradle.  Telling him to lie quietly and pretend to sleep, she would deal with Benandonner. 

As his huge shadow darkened the door, Oonagh inviting him in apologized that her husband Finn was currently out hunting - all that was home was she and Finn's baby.  Talking one look at the 'tiny' baby in the cradle, Benandonner decided that if this was the size of the child, he certainly didn't want to meet the father!  So he fled back to Scotland, ripping up the causeway in his wake to be sure that the awful Finn would never be able to follow him home!

The only major site we didn't see on the tourist train today was the Carrik-A-Rede Rope Bridge.  Again, lack of time and wanting to find a place to stay for the night was growing on our minds.  The pouring rain didn't help much either.  So we pressed on. 

Found a little campsite that WASN'T recommended by the Tourist Board, so it's was fabulous with us!  A nice grassy patch to call our own over looking some peaceful ponds and ultimately the sea.  This place is also a B&B and are outfitted with a restaurant and a pub.  Perfect finish to a day with a pint.

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