|Sea Cave at Dunluce Castle|
As a group we departed Dublin around 8 AM on Friday morning in preparation for the about 2-hour bus ride. After a quick stop about an hour and half into the journey for coffee and a quick snack we were back on the road. From the pit stop we were only about 30 minutes from Belfast, but the majority of us fell fast asleep, just as we had been before the stop. In what seemed like no time, we arrived in Belfast and unloaded off of the bus and we quickly put into 9 different taxis where we embarked on the “Black Taxi Tour.” The tour consisted of 4 different stops throughout Belfast where the most conflict of significance had taken place. Each driver had considerable amounts of knowledge about what had taken place and were all extremely informative. For the next two hours or so we made stops on both the Protestant and Catholic sides of the city where we witnessed just a small amount of the history that Belfast holds. After the tour we were whisked away to Victoria Square where we had about 2 hours to pull out some Pounds, look in the stores, or just mill around. I, along with my good friend Alex, stopped in one of the pubs for a pint and a snack. Before we knew it we were being rushed back onto the bus and en route for the Titanic Museum.
After the museum we boarded the bus and got on the road to Ballintoy. Ballintoy was the home to the hostel where we would be staying for the night. In the town there was two pubs and about 15 houses. Here the livestock definitely outnumbered the people, but it was by far one of the quaintest towns I have ever been in. That night was the Canada vs. USA Olympic hockey game and Stephen, the program director, was able to have one of the pubs play the game for us as about 25 Americans flooded into a small Irish pub. It was a truly remarkable experience capped off with a homemade pasta diner in the hostel.
The following day, which marked our final day in Northern Ireland, started at 8:30 AM with breakfast and a walk down to the Ballintoy Harbor where we took in some absolutely amazing views. Minus the wind by the water, the weather was stupendous! After about an hour of pictures and sightseeing, we boarded the bus en route for Carrick-A-Rede and their rope bridge. The hike to the rope bridge was about a half mile over looking the coast high up on the cliffs with views for miles. My own panic set in when I finally saw the bridge. I should add that I am terrified of heights and it took a lot for me to cross that bridge, no pun intended. After it is all said and done though, I am so happy that I was able to cross it and take in some of the spectacular views that the other side had to offer. After boarding the bus we made our way to the Smuggler’s Inn for a quick lunch before hitting the Giant’s Causeway!
The Giant’s Causeway is one of the most incredible things that I have ever experienced. The causeway is a large coastline made from basalt rocks that are constantly being bombarded by waves and wind. The causeway is the focal point for a legend about a giant named Finn who once called that area his home. The views and experience is one in a million and it is honestly hard to put it into words how gorgeous the views are. To get the full experience you have to visit the causeway if ever given the chance, as it is one of the most peaceful and serene environments I have ever seen.
After leaving Giant’s Causeway, we made our way to our final destination, Dunluce Castle. Dunluce Castle is an old, broken down castle that overlooks the ocean. It was once a beautiful sign of wealth and prosperity, but as time passed it fell from grace. Rather that restore it, Ireland has chosen to leave the building, as is, an open skeleton of the castle. From the castle you are able to see for miles, which during the medieval times would be necessary in defending yourself. But, the true treasure of this is the sea cave underneath the castle that was used as a smuggling point long ago. It is a slippery slope down, but the rewards are incredible when you are able to witness the view! It was for me, the highlight of the trip and one of the things I was looking forward to the most. This weekend turned into one that I will never forget and always look back on with fond memories.
Champlain College, Secondary Education ‘15