Day 2 – The Bus
When I was home and planning a day to Northern Ireland to explore the coastline, the bus to the Giant’s Causeway and Belfast sounded tolerable. The idea of having someone
else navigate the different political points of view, do the driving on the left, deal with Belfast’s traffic, and traverse the goat paths the Irish call a link road sounded like a good idea, as day 2 would be a jet lagged day – I should have known better!!
We were up and standing outside a closed Starbucks at 6:45AM waiting for our “Luxury Coach” as advertised on the internet. Did you catch the word closed? Starbucks and the coffee place next to it were closed until 7:00 the same time the bus was scheduled to leave. If I didn’t like a Starbucks before, I do now. Who waits to open a coffee place until 7:00 on a Monday? Ok we are on the correct bus, not as simple as it sounds, and the first thing we notice regarding our “luxury Coach” is that the word luxury is a relative term. As the bus filled up, we quickly learned we would be spending the day tucked into two seats with no way to spread out. Without coffee we were not off to a great start to our 13 hour day. The other thing we noticed was the bus didn’t have a bathroom, so in hindsight, maybe it was a good thing the coffee place was closed.
Did you know when you take a tour bus the guide never stops talking about the places you are going to see, what you are seeing and what you saw? Doesn’t he know we know if we paid for the trip we know where we are going? When the guy does shut up, don’t worry it will not be quiet as they sell the other trips or put on a damn video on the overhead TV’s.
Several hours later and finally through Belfast traffic, we had the choice of two tours: “conflict tourism” (a taxi guided tour of Belfast highlighting the “disturbances”) or the Titanic museum. We (Maggie) decided on being the “King of the World” and avoid any more politics. Well you all know the story… but I felt a little ripped off as the place was advertised as the Titanic Museum and there was no Titanic, only nine interactive galleries housed in a new ultra-modern impressive building and dry dock describing the history of the Titanic. The museum’s exhibits started with it being built at this location to its rediscovery on the ocean floor. Maggie was a bit upset that the school kids hogged the Morse Code exhibit and she could not send a SOS message, but the reality of the situation was that I was the one who needed to send an SOS.
Back on the bus and a few hours later and a quick photo opportunity at a “Game of
Thrones” site, we arrived at our goal for the day – The Giant’s Causeway… a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a check on my bucket list.
I will let the pictures speak for themselves
Not sure if this was allowed, but we did it anyways…
This way up
The Giant’s Causeway is an area of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, the result of an ancient volcanic eruption… for more information please ask Maggie for some “Fun Facts”
No tourist location in the world would be complete without a picture like this…
Scotland any one…
Next up, a trek across the swaying Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge – not on Maggie’s bucket list. Once again we had the luck of the Irish or as Maggie is calling it the luck of Maggie
with a nice clear day and no rain in sight. The bus driver said this was the first time in more than 2 weeks we will be able to see Scotland from our vantage point. More importantly it was not windy or rainy allowing us to make the 20M death-defying walk across the 30M gorge to a small island, and yes a clear view of Scotland.
As we were sitting in about the middle of the bus, we had a lot of people in front of us as the bus unloaded from the front and the back. We did not want to wait in line, as some of you reading this might know Maggie and I do not do well with waiting. To avoid being at the back of the line, we power-walked, well maybe jogged, actually we bulldozed, our way to the head of the group over the 20 minute walk to the pass and were one of the first to cross. Then we realized we need to wait for everyone else to cross before we could cross back!
We survived the crossing over and back; and, as a reward for our heroism and waiting for everyone else on the bus to finish, we rewarded ourselves with a great cup of hot cocoa at the little café overlooking the water.
Then the real death-defying trip – the long, long, long bus ride back to Dublin.
Remember, no bathrooms on the bus.
Once again we changed out of our hiking and LL Bean boots and were off to dinner in the Temple Bar area. This time at Norsman restaurant / pub.
A quick detour on the walk home to the actual Temple Bar bar, so we could check the box. Finally we ended up back at the Westin. After some e-mails for me and Maggie updating her journal, we called it a day.