Published: April 9th 2012March 16th 2012
This morning, we got up super early (4am) and caught a 7:30am flight to Derry (1 hour flight), Northern Ireland where we were going to spend St. Patrick's Day, Irish-style. We had heard that the weather over the weekend was going to be rainy, so we were happy with the little bit of cloud cover that we saw when we arrived. We tried to check in our hotel, but the door was locked and the bar attached to it was still closed, so we were happy that we packed our backpacks lightly, because we carried them around with us for the day.
We quickly realized that Derry is a small town that likely doesn't warrant the three days we planned to stay there, so we decided to head out of town for the day, to the Giant's Causeway. We had to take the train and then bus to get there, and neither ran often nor had matching timetables, so we spent quite a bit of the day waiting around for our transportation. We took the train first to a town called Coleraine and then on with the bus.
The Giant's Causeway is situated right on the Northern coast of
Our first glimpse of Derry
One look at Derry and we realized that the city is easily doable in a day. So we high-tailed it out of there by train and bus to the Giant's Causeway, on the North coast of Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland. Although it's highly touristic, it's a very beautiful setting of cliffs overlooking the North Atlantic ocean. You can see the Western part of Scotland in the near distance as well. The reason why the causeway is so popular among tourists is because of its beauty, but also because of the strange rock formations that line the coast at that part, almost like paving stones from a causeway that was ripped apart. It is from legend of how this was formed that the Giant's Causeway got it's name. There are a few different legends, but the prominent one that we heard was of the Irish Giant Finn MacCool. The story goes that this Irish giant built the enormous stepping stone causeway across the water to Scotland because he wanted to battle his rival, a Scottish giant named Benandonner. (As an aside, before building the causeway, Finn got into a bit of a shouting match with Benandonner. Things got heated and they began throwing things at each other, including rocks and clumps of dirt. One handful of dirt can still be found where it landed after Finn threw it. We now call it the Isle of Man!) Benandonner then crosses
Scenery from the train
We saw this large cliff from the airplane when we came in. It was pretty cool because it was a field which all of a sudden dropped off as it reached towards the water.
the water to face up to the challenge, but when Finn sees him approaching, he flees home to his wife. He then disguises himself as a baby in a cradle, and when the Scottish giant came calling, the Irish giant's wife said that Finn wasn't home. Instead she shows him that they have a baby. When the Scottish giant saw how huge the baby was, he figured that the baby's father must be enormous, so he fled home in terror and ripped apart the causeway as he went, to keep Finn from following him. He fled so quickly, that his boot came off his foot on the Irish side, and it remains there today. Apparently, you can find similar rock formations on the Scottish side as well.
Looking at the stones, they really do look like those you would use to interlock a driveway. In some places, they are arranged in columns, and they go up really high. Very neat formations. Additionally, there is one large stone that resembles a boot; this is Benandonner's boot!
We spent some time admiring the stones, and then we took a walk along the cliffs, high above the beach. It was a
The North Coast
Just ouside of a little town on the North Coast. We had just gotten off the bus and were just about at the Giant's Causeway.
beautiful setting. It rained a little bit, but only for a short period of time, otherwise we were lucky because it was quite dry and bright. Stepping over the stones was quite slippery when they were wet. We followed a path along the cliffs, beyond where the other tourists bothered to go. It was just beautiful. There were times that we were looking over the edge of the cliff, and could see the water right below us. The pictures probably don't do justice, but if you ever go there, you should defintely take that walk.
We spent almost 4 hours visiting the causeway. On our way back up to catch the bus (right before it started pouring again), we ran into a few classmates of Mike's from his CTLS program in London (Fuad, Aloysius and a friend of theirs). Small world! Their taxi had gotten lost on the way to the causeway from Belfast (they went via Derry which is a lot further!), and had only just arrived as we were leaving. We hit a little coffee shop on our way back because we had some time before our bus. Then we headed back to Derry for the night
Pathway into the Giant's Causeway
This is the path that we headed along towards the Giant's Causeway.
to prepare for St. Paddy's Day!
There are more photos below