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Ireland! part 5

September 19, 2009

Day 6 (aka: my birthday!)

I woke up to breakfast in bed at the Hotel Europa on my birthday.  Yum!

We spent the morning walking around Belfast.

The clock’s name is Albert (not little Ben, as Jason suggested).

City Hall

For lunch, we met up with fellow blogger janmary, who is even lovelier in person than she is on her blog.  Seriously.  She was such a big help in providing suggestions for our trip, and a fantastic Belfast ambassador! (And if you haven’t visited her blog, you should – her photos and her children are beautiful!) Anyways, we had a delicious lunch in the Avoca Cafe, and afterwards, I walked around the store drooling.  So many awesome (but expensive) things to buy!

After lunch, we headed out on a taxi tour of Belfast (FYI Ken Harper Taxi Tours is supposedly the only one that will take you to both the Catholic and Protestant neighborhoods – according to Rick Steves).  It was a great way to see the area where the Troubles occurred.  Our taxi driver was part historian, part driver, part photographer and I drilled him.  I mean, I had about a million questions about anything and everything and he managed to answer them (also? janmary and her husband got a second round of questions that I’ve been thinking about since I got home and were sweet enough to answer them – thanks!).  Both of us were fascinated by the tour – I think because we both remember hearing about the Troubles on the news, and because it’s neat to see a struggle that has been compromised on during our lifetimes.

The protestant neighborhood.

A new mural designed by the children in the neighborhood.  It says “every child deserves the right to play.”

One of the more shocking murals.  The soldier’s gun pointed at you no matter where you stood.

A mural of the red hand of Ulster.

At the peace wall dividing the two neighborhoods.

Bobby Sands mural (on the Catholic side of town)

Murals about international human rights struggles.  We were surprised by how many comparisons to the US civil rights movements were drawn.

After the tour, we headed to the Crown Bar to grab a few more drinks, then on to Kelly’s Cellars, the oldest bar in Belfast.

Isn’t the Crown Bar gorgeous?

On janmary’s suggestion, we headed to Made in Belfast for birthday dinner.  It was amazing.  AMAZING!  All fresh, organic, locally-produced food, and the atmosphere was really cool.  I had fish + a super-amazing brownie and ice cream dessert.  After dinner, we headed to a bar called the Spaniard (on the suggestion of our waitress at Made in Belfast) and had a few drinks.  Jason told the bartender that it was my birthday and he made me a “dark and stormy” (dark rum + vodka + ginger beer).  Oh goodness.

Made in Belfast is down this little alleyway (it’s the one with the Christmas lights in the window)

Day 7

We slept in a bit the next morning (and bought a few water bottles), and then headed out of town, driving north along the Antrim Coast.  It was so beautiful.

We laughed FOREVER at this sign.

We stopped at the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge.  We hiked along the coast to get from the parking lot to the bridge, which gave us a million great views of the ocean.  Rick Steves suggested that you might be able to see Scotland from the path, but it must have been too overcast for us to see.  The rope bridge itself was a bit scary… but we both made it across safely anyways!

Our second stop for the day was the Giant’s Causeway.  Our fearless leader, Rick Steves advised us to climb and hike along the top of a wet and windy cliff before descending down a series of steep, narrow, slippery stairs.  We concluded that he was trying to kill us.

We saw the organ, and continued to hike to the amphitheater.

The Organ

Rick failed to mention that the amphitheater is in a major EROSION ZONE.  Hmm.  Assassination attempt #2?

You are  here… in the red zone… BTW, RED = DANGER.

The Amphitheater

We walked down to the ocean and climbed along what seemed like a million hexagonal stones.  It was really incredible.

The boot.

Finally, we headed to our B&B in Portrush for the evening.  We had a great dinner overlooking the ocean at 55North, and then hit the hay.  I’m not sure I’d stay in Portrush again – it was sort of a cheesy seaside town that has “seen it’s best days” according to Rick (didn’t read that line until we were in our room for the night…).  Not that it was a bad place to stay, and here’s where I add the disclaimer that we were there on a Sunday night, so things were closed early – just that nearby towns (e.g., Bushmills) were a bit cuter.


11 Comments leave one →
  1. September 19, 2009 1:02 pm

    wow!! Giant’s causeway looks awesome !!! I can’t wait, I also cant wait to shop Avoca –
    that Belfast tour looks amazing too,
    when you read the history that happened there it’s so sad, so much pain,
    can’t wait to try the oldest bar in Belfast – my husband will love that – and I am sure will need a “pint” glass from there. :]
    Thanks for sharing

  2. September 19, 2009 1:59 pm

    I’m still trying to figure out how to fit the Giant’s Causeway into our trip. If we had a really long day our last day before leaving at the ass crack of dawn the next morning it’s possible but …

    Lovely pictures, as always.

  3. September 19, 2009 3:16 pm

    Great post – and so glad you avoided including the pic of me!

    Glad the recommendations all worked out. I loved meeting you for lunch on your birthday. You obviously got some great weather.

    We don’t tend to take those warning signs too seriously!

    I do think the “elderly” sign gives us such a lot to look forward too!!!

    Great photo from 55 degrees north.

    Yes – Portrush can be a bit tacky, and most places there would be closed early out of season anyway, never mind on a Sunday.

    Of course I agree Bushmills is MUCH better! (and great pubs too).

    You will just have to come back and spend longer next time.

    Keep up the great posts, and any other questions, ask away!

    • September 19, 2009 6:14 pm

      After you mentioned that you don’t like pics of you on your blog, I thought it best to keep off of mine, too! 🙂 Thanks for the nice words – we will definitely have to come back for longer next time!

      • September 20, 2009 1:52 am

        Thanks 🙂

        meant to also say your photos are wonderful.

        When we visit the Causeway we usually go down the main path and then sometimes I climb up the steps with my older 2 kids (and dh and son walk back up the hill or take the bus). Would not risk the cliff path with my energetic wee son who knows no fear! The steps are agony for my legs though.

  4. Debbie permalink
    September 19, 2009 7:08 pm

    Every day there is something more that is so great about your trip. The elderly signs are almost as good as the ones showing falling off a cliff. The Crown Bar is beautiful! Great way to spend a birthday!

  5. mom permalink
    September 19, 2009 11:36 pm

    Enough already!!! I am so ready to travel again!!! btw, you like nice and relaxed in the photos…I hope the trip re-energized you after the busy year you have had! (That’s not a glow I see, is it?….pj’s all day long…you are making Grandpa and I wonder….)

  6. Debbie permalink
    September 20, 2009 12:01 pm

    Carol, you’re too funny!

  7. GGG permalink
    September 20, 2009 5:08 pm

    sounds like you had a great birthday!


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