Three weeks ago we came back from a weeklong trip to northern Ireland. As we visited the southern part of the island around two years ago, we choose to explore the north more. As usual we focused more on the nature side of the country than city's and your for sure on the right place for that. See a few images from this trip by clicking on "read more".
On the first day we flew in to Dublin, a smooth two hours flight from Zurich, and picked up our rental car. We headed straight north to Belfast where we had a nice little bed and breakfast booked (it's this one if your interested). After the two hours of flight we didn't wanted to drive for three more hours straight so we stopped at Tollymore Forest Park. As the name says, it is in a forest with a wonderful river and some trails to walk trough all of it. The hikes take up from half an hour to almost six hours, so you really can spend some time there.
The next day brought us into the Titanic-Museum in Belfast, which is interesting but in my opinion overpriced and they had could made way more out of it than they have. But yeah, for a rainy sunday-morning nod a bad choice. Surely the most interesting part was wandering along the dock where the Titanic was built. I underestimated the size of that ship, it really was huge for the time being built (and sank?). Anyway, as the weather clears up, we hopped into our car and drove northbound, along the recommendable Causeway Coastal Route. It take more time than the interstate, but you drive almost all the time on the coast and have more than plenty opportunities to stop and enjoy the landscape. Or watching three guys with no clue trying to bring a boat into the water for the first time. The next stop we made was at Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge. Famous for its - the name says it - rope bridge. But it was fully booked and we only could walk to the bridge, a nice little hike. So we drove further along the coast until we reached the probably most known place: Giant's Causway where we stayed for a while. If you visit it: Don't get confused by the visiter-center. Yes, they say you have to pay a ticket and yes they say the close at 6pm. Both are rubbish, just walkt trough the gate at the parking lot down to this place - it is open all day long and you don't get checked if you have a ticket.
We left before sunset because it doesn't looked to promising. But on the way to the hotel the sky exploded and we decided to come back the next day to try to get a better image. But we startet the day with some more exploration of the north coast. Starting by tacking a ferry-ride from Greencastle to Magiligan Point (17€ for a car and a 10 minute ride- holy smokes!) and from there to the Mussenden Temple near Castlerock. It's a nice place, the temple itself stands nicely on the cliff-edge to the ocean and you get some nice views. But it's not a place to stay for too long.
So we drove further, passed Coleraine, Portrush, tried to find a parking space at White Rocks Beach - without any luck, drove by Dunluce Castle where the people parked on the street because it was so busy and decided to change the route. We headed south and visited Dark Hedges. A phenomenal street, also way to busy that day, but really nice.
After like an hour we shopped for picnic and headed back to Gian'ts Causway where we spend a beautiful evening and I took some - I think - nice photos.
The next day we visited some cultural places which are Ireland is also known for: Stone circles. We found a few, they are really interesting. But we found way more sheeps that day (and all day's following). And there where thousands of lambs, we never have seen so many lambs in our whole life like in this six days. We even help to catch one that has escaped from the field.... well we tried and failed miserable ;) They are pretty quick... anyway, I got distracted. We ate some early dinner (although it was more a very late lunch) in a small town called Downing and headed to Malin Head for sunset. This is the most northern point of Ireland and we had it - to our surprise - for us alone. A beautiful, quite place white an endless view over the ocean.
The following day we drove to Glenveagh National Park for a hike. I assume it's a beautiful place but we returned to the car after 10 minutes of hike because it rained cats and dogs - horizontally. We where soaked after this 10 minutes and headed on along the - meanwhile - west coast and ended up in Teelin - where you could find some more cliffs called Slieve League. Some say they are more impressive than the famous Cliffs of Moher. I don't think so, altough there are nice. If your don't like to walk do yourself a favor and open the gate at the end of the road, drive trough (and don't forget to close it) and drive up the hill. Otherwise it's pretty steep and takes around 40 minutes of walking to arrive at the actual viewpoint. Up there is a parking lot, but only for a five or six cars. Walking is nice - a "bit" windy - but not recommended for everyone.
On the way to our hotel for the night we stopped at gas-station. Usually gas-stations smell like.... well, gas. This one didn't, it smelled like frying-oil. We later found out why, they make awesome burgers, but the fries you get with them feel like 500 grames of potatoes. I have no clue how you should eat all of them, really. Nevertheless we arrived, the car full of gas and we full of potatoes at the Hotel, called "The Driftwood" in Sligo, more precise in Rosses Point. We only can recommend this place. You literally feel like home if you enter the room, the host's are super friendly and the included breakfast a joy. Consider to stop there when in this area, you won't regret it.
The following day we drove further south, visited Achill Island which became last time one of our favorite places and still is. We ate some more potatoes, saw some more sheeps and lambs and got some more sand blown in the eyes by the wind. But it was wonderful. The Day ended up in the Connemara Coast Hotel, near Galway.
The second last, full day of our trip we spent driving trough Connamara National Park and visiting Kylemore Abbey - unfortunately in the rain again. But we enjoyed the landscapes and the sun when she came trough.
On the last day we relaxed a little bit before visiting a concert from a not so well known local.... well he was not exactly local, although spent a part of his life in Galway and you maybe heard from him already: he's name is Ed Sheeran ;)
The really last day we spend in the car for the first half, driving back to Dublin and spent in the plane for the second half because we had a massive delay. All in all it was an amazing time in a beautiful country and we actually can't wait to go back one day.
And yes, I told you all this places without mentioning Game of Thrones - isn't that impressive? Oh damn, now I did....s**t. Well it's cool to see all the places you know from the series, although we haven't planed to do so. Mainly because both of us haven't seen any of it before this journey. But don't worry, we catched up meanwhile ;)
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