Published: August 20th 2011August 19th 2011
I was the one that put the Giants Causeway on our itinerary. I had seen numerous pictures of it and just had to get there. I didn't care that it was way out of our way and it was going to mean exchanging more money. I just had to go and see it. And I am so glad that I did.
Riding the train from Dublin to Northern Ireland is one beautiful train ride. 2 hours to Belfast, a couple train changes and then another hour or so to the end of the line, Portrush. The closer you get to Portrush, the more the train runs right next to the sea. Between the sea, Giants Causeway, and Bushmillls Portrush is a really great place to stay. There are restaurants, pubs, bars, and enough people that you don't feel like your all alone, but not too many that you feel like a sardine.
One thing that became apparent right away was that October is not the hight of tourist season in Portrush. Which would be a good tip for others. As long as your willing to give up warmer weather, Ireland in September/October is fantastic. We felt like we had
the country all to ourselves and it was so much easier to get around without the extra people. We also ended up having Portrush all to ourselves, which is always an added bonus.
After waiting for a little while for a taxi outside the rather old looking Portrush train station, we headed to our hotel and then my sister and I set out for a wonderful night walk of Portrush. Our hotel was actually a bit away from the downtown area, so we had a truly beautiful walk into town right around sunset. Angling off the main road into town we found this wonderful walkway right along cliffs that headed toward the harbor and a good cluster of local nightlife. Absolutely beautiful scenery, and we even had the added bonus of seeing surfers. In October. Surfing the frigid Northern Atlantic waters. Crazy kids.
We had a bit of trouble actually finding a place for dinner while we were out. We didn't want any of the more expensive places that were right along the pier, and that was basically everything that was open off tourist season. Of course, we ended up at a small pub with a rather great
tender and a rather small group, including the bar tender, playing pool in the back room. We hung out for a while before we ventured out to actually find food. And after a bit of a walk we found some.
At the local fish and chips shop.
I mean really, what do you expect? It was one of the only places open that actually served food and, on a positive, it was right next too a little park that we could sit and eat out fish and chips right by the water. We weren't the only ones that were out for fish and chips. A couple other people were waiting to take their shares back home with them. Since we were random American tourists and didn't really have a place to eat said awesome fish and chips, we ended up at the little park. The park was right by an inlet and we could eat, watch the waves come in, and slightly freeze.
As we made the walk back to the hotel, we passed the local gas station that also came equipped with a small grocery store. Most travelers know this but for those of you who
don't, one of the best things to do when you travel is to check out a local grocery store. I cannot tell you how many different country grocery stores I have been in and how much fun I have in them. It always fascinates me what you can find and can't find in grocery stores around the world. You don't think about how normal or strange having certain things is until you go somewhere else and they don't have it. In grocery stores in Northern Ireland they have the hugest turnips I have ever seen on sale. I'm talking turnips as big as a medium sized head of lettuce. I had to get a picture to prove it to my friends back home.
We only had 2 days in Portrush before heading back down to Waterford, so the next day was a whirl of activity and planning. We got the card of a local taxi driver and he said that we could use him as our personal taxi for the day. Anytime we needed him, we could call. It was as simple as that. It later turned into a very good thing that we had a taxi number to
call when we needed it.
Portrush, Bushmills, and Giants Causeway are all in the same area, but a couple miles apart, so we couldn't just walk to all the places that we wanted to go to. Either getting around by taxi or rental car is really your only option out of season. It was off season after all. He drove us into Bushmills and we had a distillery tour of some of the world's finest whiskey. That distillery is huge. We got a guided tour, learned a whole lot about whiskey, and had the coveted free sample at the end. If you've ever been on a winery tour you would understand how the tour works. You move around the distillery and see all the stages of making whiskey. The guide will also explain how everything works and answer any odd questions that you have along the way. My free sample of mulled whiskey was dangerous it was so good. Like cider.
Quite honestly, you could just hire a taxi the whole time your in Portrush and just have him drive you around all day and you wouldn't leave disappointed. Just driving from Bushmills to the Giant's Causeway was
a trip in and off itself. We passed huge golf courses, cause I leaned that Ireland is a huge golfing spot. I had no idea! Every hotel we stayed at had at least 1 group of 8 golfers staying there. Every morning they would gather their clubs and set out for their day of golf while we set out for our day of sightseeing.
The Giant's Causeway has got to be one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. Hexagonal stones slowly lowering into the sea and the romantic legend of the giant and his giantess separated and reunited again build a very powerful and memorable visit. The decent to the Causeway steep and it leads to this beautiful stone formation leading out to sea and surrounded by cliffs. That trip alone put well over 100 pictures into my memory card. The hexagonal stones are all different heights, so you can actually see where the ancient Celts would get a story of a giant building this giant pathway leading across the water.
One great thing about the area around the Causeway is that it actually connects to a longer walking trail that winds along the tops
of the cliffs and leads you onward for miles. My sister thought it was a perfect time to get a bit of a different adventure in, so we broke away from Mom and started walking. After the first half of the trail ended up dead ending not to far from the start, we had to back track and head up. The view along the way was spectacular. You could see for miles out to sea and then you could see a good bit of ways into the surrounding countryside. We passed farms, a lot of cows and sheep, small villages, and in the distance, we could see the rolling hills of Ireland. The whole trail is 10km and ended up at a famous rope bridge thats name escapes me. It really was perfect till it started raining and we ended up walking a long way in it. When we got to the castle that we were expecting to find a tourist center at and get a taxi back, only to discover that it the castel was really a ruin and no tourist center in sight. We debated on what to do, but we finally just ended up walking to a
little harbor and asked a local couple for the use of their cellphone. This is where having a taxi at your mercy really comes in handy. I was able to call the taxi and have him come ad pick us up and take us back to the hotel. It was really wonderful of him to do that for us, but I guess we were also an easy guaranteed ride.
After getting back to the hotel, we met up with Mom and headed to a restaurant that overlooked the little park where my sister and I had out fish and chip dinner the night before. We drank a whole bottel and wine and talked for hours while enjoying the beautiful view from the full wall of windows. A full menu guaranteed us a bit more selection than just the fish and chips from the night before.
There are more photos below