In order to get a full day tour of the Giant’s Causeway, Carrick-a-rede rope bridge and other parts of Northern Ireland, we were ready to be picked up in front of the Dublin tourist center on Suffolk street by 7am. I booked a last minute day trip tour from Dublin with Paddywagon tour company for around 60 euro per person. This fee did not include any meals, but we were able to pick up food right outside of the border to Northern Ireland. Our guide was great, combining history, occasional trivia, and his Irish humor the entire trip. As we left Dublin he gave us a brief history of the city and the Great Famine.
I was fast asleep as we drove through Belfast on the way to our first stop, the Carrick-a-rede rope bridge in Antrim county, Northern Ireland. This was the only place we stopped where we had to pay a small fee to cross the rope bridge. It was a short walk along the coastline before reaching the rope bridge and the views were stunning. We could clearly see Scotland in the distance and the waters were so clear blue it seemed tropical. I had no idea how beautiful Northern Ireland really is. We waited in the long line for our turn to cross the rope bridge, which was much shorter than I hoped.
There was short lunch break at a roadside hostel before arrive at the Giant’s Causeway. We got our audio-tour headsets and walked down the hill instead of taking the bus. By the time we got our first glimpse of the Giant’s Causeway (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), we ditched the audio-tour and paid more attention to the sites in front of us. We excitedly went in separate directions to jump on and explore the hexagonal basalt columns that formed over 50 million years ago. It was a magnificent site. In order to get a bird’s eye view of the beautiful scenery, we made our way up one of the trails. By the time we got there we realized that there were more trails to explore, but time did not permit.
The next stop on the tour was Dunluce Castle. Our guide was eager to inform the group that this castle was featured in Game of Thrones and since I’m not a a die-hard fan, I can’t tell you what part of the show it was in. This was only a pit stop, which was a bit unfortunate because it was absolutely beautiful. There was a newly married couple taking wedding photos there, and I sure was a little bit jealous.
While I fell asleep on our first time through Belfast, this time I was wide awake so I didn’t miss anything. Again we had an hour to see the area on our own. Mike and I wanted to get a view of Belfast city from the mall’s viewing dome, but unfortunately by the time we got there it was closed. With not much time left we spent the last of our sterling on beer and people watched near Belfast city hall. Upon returning to the bus our driver informs us of a bomb scare in the city, and we would have to take a longer route to get back to the highway. On this route we went by RPG Alley and saw graffiti, but did not get very great photos from the bus. It was a long ride back to Dublin, and we began packing when we got back as our trip was coming to an end.