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July 24th 2008
Published: July 29th 2008
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We all slept well at the Drummnd hotel and woke to the sound of owls outside our window. We put ourselves together and got our breakfast. Eileen tried fried soda bread and decided to stick with the regular toast from now on. We packed the car and headed back into to Derry. With the excellent directions from the hotel front desk attendant we ended up finding the walking tour meeting place early. We were able to make a stop at the bank and Starbucks before the tour started. Our walking tour was led by Garvin. He was a smart chap with a great sense of humor. He was a little hard to understand as the accent in Northern Ireland is very thick and reminds me of a Scottish accent. Garvin gave us a tour inside the walled portion of the city of Derry, or Londonderry--depending on who you ask. After the tour, we quickly decided to go see the BogSide with the famous murals that show the battle and history of the fighting between those who wanted an independent Ireland and those who were/are loyal to the United Kingdom. The murals are all beautiful and now bring people down to the part of town that no one dared go into previously….you can tell that the artists are very talented and took this assignment seriously. On our way back towards the city center, we decided to walk some more of the walls of the city. We ended up back at the Car Park very soon and we were on our way. From Derry, we drove Northwest towards the Northernmost coast of Ireland. The scenary was very beautiful. I was very excited to see our next stop. We pulled into Downhill Castle. I had seen this Castle previously on an episode of GlobeTrekker on PBS and it was great to experience it first hand. We started off in a cool building called a DoveCote, as it was customary to keep Doves in that time. We next made our way to the Temple. The Temple is an amazing building that is hanging on to the edge of a cliff. It was a wonderful experience to look our the window of the temple and literally hang over the cliff. The beaches below were magnificent. Our next stop of the day was the Giant’s Causeway. According to local lore, this natural wonder is said to have been built by the Irish giant Finn McCool. Finn fancied another giantess in Scotland and it is said that he was trying to build a bridge from Ireland to Scotland so they could be together. The bridge is made of octagonal pieces of rock that all fit together as if cut and placed there by hand; it really is surreal and hard to believe that is was most likely the result of volcanic activity. We first started out on a high cliff and got wonderful views from above the bridge. We followed a path that took us down the edge of the cliff and out to the bridge. The bridge was amazing and was a hopping tourist stop on this beautiful sunny day. Amy dipped her toes in while I tried to capture this beautiful spot on film. We spent a few hours wandering around before we took off for our next adventure of the day. Carrick de Rede Rope Bridge was just a few miles down the road. Fisherman have been stringing out this rope bridge between the mainland the a small island for hundreds of years. The fisherman casts nets into the ocean to catch salmon from this tiny island. From the Car Park, we had a mile walk to the actual bridge. We had to stop several times to take pictures because the water was so blue that it reminded us of the Carribean. Once out to the bridge, we were given some tips onto how to cross it by the bridge attendant and then we set off. Eileen was first out on the bridge and just as Amy and I followed it seemed that the wind picked up. The bridge was swaying and it was hard to walk across. Once on the other side Eileen and Amy had to change their knickers, as they were very scared on the bridge. I told them that I was proud of them to cross it, but I know neither one of them were looking forward to the return crossing. Amy and I decided to climb up to the highest point on the island and we are glad that we did. The views were spectacular and I got some great pictures. After about 30 minutes on the island, we made it back to were Eileen was sitting and she confided in us that she had said a rosary while she was sitting their to pray for our safe return across the bridge. On the trip back over, I went first so that I could capture some pictures of Eileen and Amy on the bridge. They made it back across safely and we hiked back to the car. We got a quick snack out of our snackpack and headed for our next stop…. Belfast. Belfast was about an hour’s drive and after getting a little turned around, we made it to our hotel, the Helga Lodge in South Belfast. This lodge looked more like a hostel than a lodge, but we were all just happy to have a place to sleep. We grabbed a quick dinner across the street. We climbed the stairs to our room and settled in for the night to the sound of bickering ladies of the evening down below us on the street.

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29th July 2008

Awesome pictures!!
I am jealous that you get to photograph such beautiful scenery!!

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