Chapter 6: Hiking, a fascinating tour and countless hexagons

Hey again!
Well, last time I said that I would blog something like useful information about Belfast, but I would prefer to do this next time because it happened so much last weekend, especially on Sunday the 30th May… Additionally I hadn’t enough time to finish this (a bit larger) Blog earlier, sorry for that.

Since the very beginning of our staying in Belfast Friedrich, Riccardo and I wanted to see one of the steep coasts here in Northern Ireland. Probably the most famous coast over here is the “Giant’s Causeway”, so we decided to check this out on Sunday.
Therefore we had to search in the Internet for the possibilities to do such a trip – and we found a good offer: The travel organization “McComb’s Executive Travel & Tours” offers a tour across the Antrim Coastal Route to the Giant’s Causeway with a few ‘photo stops’ and other attractions included for 20£ per person.
The tour lasts from 9.20 am to approximately 7.00 pm, thus we had to get up early on Sunday morning. At the McComb’s office we bought the tickets and waited a short time before the travel starts. The bus was totally full and our driver, he calls himself ‘Mr. Sexy’ xD, was really kind and funny. He talked the whole trip about the many sights, points of interest and about the Irish and Northern Irish history.
Our first (and short) stop was in Carrickfergus for taking photos from an old castle. At least we realized that we definitely chose the right day – the weather was awesome! While taking photos and kidding around, we were accosted by two girls from Stuttgart: Anna, who studies since two years in Dublin, and Christine, who visited her. Based on that, we found two nice travel companions… 😉

the upper part of the Shepherd's steps with Christine and Anna

Along the Coastal Route we saw so many beautiful landscapes like hills, cliffs and even beaches. The beaches here looked like the Caribbean ones, which were kind of strange and amazing together, because I never expected that in Northern Ireland. A hundreds of photos later we had another short stop at a small and nice harbor and at a viewpoint where we could see a rope bridge, of which more later…

After a few more driving minutes along the coast and through pretty villages and another three hundreds of photos later we finally reached the Giant’s Causeway. The bus parked besides a restaurant, where you could have a meal if you ordered one at the bus driver before. But we didn’t.
Now you had to choose between 2 paths down to the Giant’s Causeway: An easier, shorter and almost boring one or a longer, more exciting path within a stair part called “Shepherd’s steps”. Well the second path sounds tempting, so the girls and we three followed its call.

the hexagon shaped stones of the Giant's Causeway

The path leads us towards the cliffs with an impressive view of the Causeway below. We reached the “Shepherd’s steps” which have approximately 160 steps, it was quiet cool. On the way down we made several stops and watched at the breathtaking panorama. After the stairs we followed the path straight on, looked around again and continued going down.
Finally on the Giant’s Causeway we made a short stop and had a little lunch. While eating we had a good overview of the countless hexagon shaped stones, it was amazing! After the lunch we were going to discover the area and took thousands of photos. At this point I could get the statement from the Irish: “The Giant’s Causeway is known as the 8th world miracle.”, it was really marvelous and I begun to wonder how all these stones get their hexagonal shape. I remembered the old legend which the bus driver told us before:

„Hundreds of years ago there was a giant called Fionn who builds a bridge to walk to Scotland to fight another giant. But when he saw the Scottish giant he was afraid about his size and fled. The Scottish giant followed him. Fionn’s wife laid a blanket on him in order to cover him from the Scottish giant by pretending that Fionn is her baby. Therefore the Scottish giant was afraid, because he imagined that the father of the baby must be very huge, thus he fled in panic and destroyed the bridge in case that Fionn wants to follow him.“

(Not a real quote, but that’s approximate all as far as I remember…)

In actual fact the basalt columns of the Giant’s Causeway are originated millions of years ago by volcanic activities, lava flow and some eruptions.

me climbing one of the basalt columns

Some of the stone columns were approximately 8 meters high on one side (on the other side more columns like a hill), so it was a perfect chance for me to climb a bit… 😛 Regrettably the time was really barely and we had to rush with all our doings, although we had 2 hours for discover the Causeway.

Back in the bus we bought some tickets for the rope bridge (4£ per each) and the bus started to move. Our next stop was only a few minutes away in the village Bushmills. There we visited the world’s oldest licensed whiskey distillery where we could buy and taste some whiskey. Around the distillery was a strange smell in the air, I can’t describe it anymore, but it was kind of funny. ^^
For tasting the Bushmills’ Whiskey normally you had to pay, but lucky as I am (haha) I got a voucher for free Whiskey tasting from the bus driver after a short small talk. We followed him to the bar where I, and even Riccardo without a voucher, drunk a glass of Bushmills’ Whiskey. While this we talked to a trucker from New York who also took part on the trip to the Giant’s Causeway.
After our little Whiskey session we staggered… uhm… walked back to the bus and drove to the last attraction: The rope bridge. On our way to the bridge we had another two short photo stops at an old castle ruin (the bus driver called it one of the most romantic places in Northern Ireland) and at a cliff near a very long and beautiful beach.

I am the posing one in the middle ^^

After we arrived we hiked along the cliffs and I was amazed of the view below: The water was like you would normally expect from the Caribbean – crystal clear and cyan with bright sand below and no seaweed (like almost everywhere today). That fits the nearly cloudless sky and the warm air temperature perfect. Just before the rope bridge was a queue so we had to wait as well, but it wasn’t too long anyways. Finally it’s our turn. We went down a little stair and entered the bridge. The way like the bridge waggled and swung was kind of funny. You had a nice view down between the gaps, by the way… On the other side, there was only a small (but high) island, we enjoyed the nice view and took another 3700 photos. You could see the Scottish coast from there very clear. After a few minutes our time was running out again, so we had to return to the bus.

From now on we drove straight through the country in the direction of Belfast. Time to relax and digest the whole exciting day, but only when you are able to ignore the always-talking Mr. Sexy (headphones are very useful in this case :P)…

We arrived in Belfast shortly after 8 pm, and the bus driver says that this was his longest tour since years. The bus stopped at several points and we had to say goodbye to the girls. We get off at another stop and went home.
Later this evening Friedrich and I went to the Bot in order to relax a bit, but against our expectations it was totally full of people – I’ve never seen such a full pub! No way to relax, but it was fun anyways. All of the girls there were responding well to the Euro vision Song Contest winner Lena, as they heard that we are from Germany. Also we met a crazy English guy, but never mind… xD

Just one more thing: I strongly can recommend this (or a similar) trip to you, it is absolutely a good investment! And prepare to take millions of photos!

Wow, I never thought that I’ll write such a novel… Oo
I hope my grammar is not that bad like Master Yoda’s… xD