Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Giant's Causeway and Antrim Coast

One of the highlights of our stay in Northern Ireland was a tour to the Giant's Causeway and drive along the Antrim coast.  We booked our tour through Allen's Tours and had an absolute wonderful day.  We arrived to their office about 9am, departing time was 9:30am, since we were told the bus fills up pretty quickly. We started chatting with the driver and guide, Tom, who told us to put our stuff on the two seats right behind him, they were the best seats. Leaving promptly at 9:30am we were off to see many sites before arriving to Giant's Causeway around 3pm.  The drive up the Antrim Coastal Road was spectacular. What made the trip even better was Tom.  He was a fantastic guide, extremely knowledgeable, funny and made sure we were able to see all the sights and have enough time to enjoy them.   
Some pictures I took when we were moving so they might be a little blurry.  Unfortunately, our weather was not the greatest for most of the day but it didn't stop us from having a great time.
The first stop was to Carrick-A-Rede, meaning rock in the road, rope bridge.  A suspension bridge that connects the mainland to a tiny island called Carrick.  Swinging 100 feet above the sea, the bridge is made up between planks, wire and rope.
Recently I read an article in Travel & Leisure about the World's Scariest Bridges and Carrick-A-Rede was named #5:
 http://www.travelandleisure.com/articles/worlds-scariest-bridges/5
 The views from Carrick Island are amazing with views of Rathlin Island and Scotland. It was pretty hazy but we could still see Scotland in the far distance.
 We took a quick 15 minute stop at the Bushmill Distillery, Ireland's oldest working distillery.
Along the Antrim Coast is the medieval Dunluce Castle.
Around 3pm we arrived to our final destination, Giant's Causeway.  It is an area of approximately 40,000 interlocking basalt columns from an ancient volcanic eruption.  However, there is another legendary story about how these basalt columns arrived which includes an Irish Giant Finn MacCool and a Scottish Giant Benandonner. To read more about the legendary store click here Myths and Legends.
You have the option to take the shuttle bus from the entrance down to the Giant's Causeway or walk.  We decided to walk so we could take in more of spectacular views.
We were given 3 hours at the Causeway and with the rain coming down pretty hard we decided to have a drink at the award winning pub, The Nook.
Heading back to Belfast Tom, our driver/guide, took us a round about way so we could see more of the coast and countryside.
I would definitely recommend anyone who is Northern Island to either rent a car or take a tour of the Antrim Coast and Giant's Causeway.  Not having been anywhere else in Ireland, I can only imagine how magnificent the rest of the country is and I hope that one day Scott and I will get the opportunity to rent a car and drive the southern and western coast.
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