Pack Your Bags: Giants Causeway, NI
You may have noticed that I go back to the same places... a lot. In every two year cycle, a pretty standard routine of destinations get cycled through the various programs that I oversee. Edinburgh, Paris, Iceland, Stonehenge, Versailles, Dublin, Avignon, Oxford... I'm not complaining at all. Actually, I fall in love with all of these places and am always eager to see them again. It's definitely no chore.
While I'm really content to see many of the same places, I always am constantly on the lookout for ways to get new experiences into the programs, and this year- it only seemed natural to put Northern Ireland into our final trip of the semester. Not only was I excited to see the home of some of our great friends, but I was also excited to add another country to my "list." (A list that I actually haven't tallied up in years, but it's still fun to keep.) To be honest, we didn't hit Belfast on its best day. It was soaking wet rain and we were all pretty exhausted. I'll have to re-do that with fresh eyes another day.
But we did wake up the next morning and head out to the Giants Causeway... and it was totally awesome. It's claimed (by those from Northern Ireland) to be the "Eighth Wonder of the World." The unique basalt formations out into the water have some fun folklore behind them, but regardless of how and why they formed- it's is a breathtaking site.
To visit, it's 1.5 hours north of Belfast. You can park there, or nearby in town by Bushmills Inn and ride up in the shuttle. The walk down from the visitor's center to the Causeway is about 20 minutes. (Or you can pay £1 and take the bus down.... though I'd save the money for the return trip back up the hill!)
After you've finished, you'll probably have worked up an appetite. The cafe on-site has really nice local food and picturesque desserts, such as lemon tarts with mile-high meringue. Or you can drive in five minutes and stop for a bit at Bushmills Inn. It's an adorable setting with a great menu. We had their daily special of beef strips in a creamy mushroom sauce with mashed potatoes and fish & chips and were so stuffed that we barley had enough room to finish the sticky toffee pudding that we dutifully ordered afterwards.
A few more things: The walk up & back can be tiring, plan for a walk or to pay the small fee to take the shuttle to the site. | Wear comfortable shoes for getting down there and climbing around on the rocks. | The site isn't free, in fact- it's one of the oldest paying sites in the world. However, it is run by the National Trust, so if you're a member, you'll get in free.
Have you been to the Giants Causeway? Stunning, isn't it? Was the weather this pretty when you were there? I have a feeling we just had some Irish luck sprinkle on us that day... because it was fantastic.
*images original to Aspiring Kennedy