Ireland has been on the top of bucket list for some time. Any book that I read whose setting is in Ireland describes a magical place and one I wanted to visit. Mario and I had the opportunity to explore Ireland over a long weekend and we were not disappointed!
The weather was gorgeous and couldn’t have ask for a better trip, our tour guide said it was like their Indian summer right during final week of course. Normally, Ireland is rainy and dreary weather, so I think my lucky stars we had awesome sunny weather. Ireland makes European country #15 on my list! I can’t believe when I arrived in Germany I had visited only 3 European countries and now I’m up to 15!
We left after work and arrived early evening in Dublin. With it getting darker later, we were able to take some awesome pictures from the plane. We took the AirLink bus into city center which was around 40 minutes and walked to our hotel. On the way we stop by a grocery store and picked up some food for lunches and snacks.
In order to maximize our time here, we decided to take some bus tours to see the surrounding areas of Ireland. On Saturday, we booked a tour to Giant’s causeway which is an area of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, the result of an ancient volcanic fissure eruption.(Wikipedia. We also explored different sites which were used in the filming of Games of Thrones. Our tour left at 6:45am in order to fit all the places in. Our hotel was on the south end of the city while the meeting place was on the north side, so we had a 45 minute walk but it was great way to walk up and stretch our legs, preparing them for a day of sitting on a bus. It was a nice morning walk and a great way to see what life looks like at 5:30am on a Saturday, you would think pretty dead, right! But you would be sadly wrong. There were people still out drinking and making their way home and some still drinking. Many of the clubs and restaurants even McDonalds have bouncers in order to maintain control. Here are some of the sights early in the mornning.
Saturday’s weather started off cool and windy but it warmed up to be a beautiful sunny day which is very uncommon here. All the sites we were going to travel to on Saturday are located in Northern Ireland which is connected to United Kingdom (UK), so the currency was pounds instead of Euros and the speed was in miles not kilometer.
Our first stop was Dark Hedges which is an avenue of beech trees along Bregagh Road between in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. (Wikipedia). These beech trees have been used in the filming of Games of Throne.
Our next stop was at the Dunluce castle ruins in Bushmills.
From there we traveled to the Giant’s causeway. We departed the bus with headed towards the causeway. We walked down a small hill enjoying the views of the shores and the tide pools and then finally the causeway it’s self. After exploring for a bit, we opted to take the shuttle back up the hill and meet our bus.
The following website ( http://www.giantscausewayofficialguide.com/);shares that the Giant's Causeway lies at the foot of the basalt cliffs along the sea coast on the edge of the Antrim plateau in Northern Ireland. It is made up of some 40,000 massive black basalt columns sticking out of the sea. The dramatic sight has inspired legends of giants striding over the sea to Scotland. Geological studies of these formations over the last 300 years have greatly contributed to the development of the earth sciences, and show that this striking landscape was caused by volcanic activity during the Tertiary, some 50-60 million years ago.The Giants Causeway was included on the World Heritage site list in November 1986
From there we traveled to Ballintoy harbor. Our bus was parked on top of the hill and we made our way down to the harbor. It was a nice walk down but a killer walk up, but the views helped!
From the we drove to the Cushendun Caves which was also used in the Games of Thorns. We stepped inside the caves and enjoyed the views.
On the way back to Dublin we had about 45 minutes to explore Belfast. For many years, I have been interest in the Titanic so stopping by Belfast was exciting for me. The shipyard at Belfast built the Titanic. Time didn’t permit to see the shipyard or the Titanic museum which now sits on the site. From what I heard it is a pretty amazing museum.
Day 2 brought another early morning bus tour with the same meeting place as Saturday. We had the opportunity to explore the city by early morning again. Our tours on Saturday and Sunday was with the same company and we ended up having the same guide both day. Our big highlight was exploring the Cliffs of Moher, in addition to a few sites. Our first stop was Galway, we were given some time to explore, but with it being Sunday many places didn’t open till later. But it was nice exploring a quite city.
On the way to our next stop which were the baby cliffs of Crumlin, we saw houses with thatch roofs.The baby cliffs got us ready for the big ones which were right down the road.
We were given tickets so we could explore the visitors center and was given time to walk and explore the cliffs. We enjoyed our packed sandwiches while soaking in the sun. Since the weather was sunny with a lite wind, I was able to take some pretty awesome pictures.
From there we stopped at Kilmacduagh monastery ruins in Gort. We were given a few minutes to explore the cemetery and the church ruins. From there we headed back to Dublin.
Day 3 - Since our tour left later in the morning so we had time to explore more of Dublin.
When I booked this tour I didn’t realized that it was a banking holiday so the roads and sites were busy. Our first stop was Glendalough and the ruins of one of the Seven churches which used to be in the area.
From the we stopped for a quick photo of the Guinness Lame in Round wood Ballinastoe. We learned you could rent the estate which includes the two lakes, manor, land, car and lots more for around 25,000 euro a week. That’s a little too rich for my blood, I can dream though! Along the way we passed some bog lands.
A quick stop at German military cemetery in Glencree. Then lunch stop in the village of Enniskerry which is next to Powerscourt Manor, which we would explore after lunch. We explored the gardens which is the number 3 in the top ten garden according to National Geographic. Reminded me of Versailles garden. Also in Dublin you can see the Powerscourt townhouse, I guess you need a home in a few different places. From there we headed back into Dublin.
Our final day in Ireland showed us some rain off and on with a little cooler weather. Our first stop was the Books of Kells and the Long Room. The Book of Kells is an illuminated manuscript Gospel book in Latin, containing the four Gospels of the New Testament together with various prefatory texts and tables. ( Wikipedia) The long room is a double floor library which inspired the library for Harry Potter. From there we relaxed in a Starbucks while we waited for the museum to open. At 10, we headed to the archaeological museum which was free of charge, just asked for a donation. We explored and learned about Ireland and it’s history which includes Vikings, which is something I never realized. After a quick lunch we boarded the AirLink bus and traveled to the airport. Another great trip in the books!!
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A teacher who loves traveling the world.