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Published: July 25th 2009
Northern Ireland ... a place always associated with the Troubles, fear and unrest. Since Bruce moved there it meant it was time to find out what it was like for myself. Nothing like a prechristmas trip to a place colder than London - an island edging the North Sea - awesome!
Flew in Friday night to be met by the smiley Bruce who found us food and had the whole weekend planned. Car hire (check), Black Cab Tour (check), pub visiting (check), trip north to find giants (check)! The Saturday morning we got picked up by a black cab which took us all around Falls Road (Catholic) and Falls Road (Protestant) and told us about the Troubles. It's an amazing tour and the driver is always from one side of the story, but tries to tell it from both so as not to prejudice. We worked out his affiliation reasonably early, but got some amusing stories of the benefits as a kid of having a cadbury's truck hijacked and the negatives of getting shot in the butt by a rubber bullet - Mum apparently had no sympathy!
After the tour it was lunch at the Christmas market then off
for a post lunch walk to McArys Fort in the Cave Hill Country Park. The walk got the blood flowing as it was mainly up hill and the down hill bits were a wee bit slippy due to the icy conditions. Beautiful countryside and a gorgeous view as the sun set. Early night as we had were off North for a Sunday tour of the coast and points north.
Early, early start ... early enough to watch the sun rise over the sea as we made our way up the coast. We stopped at the restored Carrickfergus Castle (closed at that early hour) and then again at the ruins of Dunseverick Castle before reaching our goal the Giant's Causeway. It was so icy that the shuttle bus to the Causeway wasn't working so we got in some lovely exercise walking the couple of miles to the start of those wonderful hexagonal basalt columns. The winds were howling and the sea was pounding - it was wonderful if a little treacherous as wherever the water had pooled ice formed and you had to watch your step - so much fun!
We played on the stones for a while then
walked up and around the coast as far as we were able before back to the car (via food) and off to enjoy another Irish tradition - whiskey! What would be the point of being in the area if we didn't pop into the Bushmills Distillery to sample a little of the local drop? The Distillery is still working, although it was quiet on a Sunday and we went on a tour all through before enjoying a complementary drop at the end. Sadly for me Astrid didn't like it and Bruce was driving ... I was a little sleepy after that.
Stopped at a little roadside inn for a christmas lunch (complete with hats and Santa) then back to the airport and the flight back to London. Thanks Bruce for driving!
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