A Travellerspoint blog

June 2018

Destination Dublin

Ireland - Dublin

semi-overcast 19 °C
View Ireland on kmmk17's travel map.

Having finished up the sights in Belfast in the morning, we made it to the bus station for our onward travel to Dublin.

The trip wasn't originally going to include the Irish capital, but with it being pretty easy to get to as well as pretty cheap, we decided to include it on the end of the trip. It would also give us the opportunity to cross the border again, as well as fly back to the UK without needing to go through immigration.

Unfortunately, despite the bus being pretty empty, some irritating children sat right behind us the whole journey; but with it being just over two hours it didn't take too long before we would be free of them.

Emigration Museum

Emigration Museum

Arriving in the late afternoon, we headed just around the corner to the Irish Emigration Museum, where I might find out more about my Irish heritage, whilst Chris hoped he might find out he has some too. The museum seemed to capitalise on anyone with any Irish blood in them - even though the state probably wouldn't give citizenship to half of them.

After a little time looking around, we headed out into the city, and headed to a restaurant for dinner before we headed to our hotel on the outskirts of the city centre.

Temple Bar

Temple Bar

The following morning we made a tour of the city, beginning at the government buildings, before heading through the Temple Bar. Unfortunately with our trip being pretty busy, we didn't get chance to stop there the night before or today. However it was very pretty with the flower boxes and cobbled streets.

Guinness Factory

Guinness Factory

We then continued on to Dublin Castle, before heading out of the heart of the city to the St. James's Gate at the Guinness Factory. This whole area felt like a hyper-reality you'd expect in a theme park, as it was clearly Victorian, and yet was very well kept, unlike most similar Victorian factory areas.

Ha'penny Bridge

Ha'penny Bridge

After this we headed back into the city to cross the Ha'penny bridge over the Liffey, before our final sight - the Garden of Remembrance.

Garden of Rememberance

Garden of Rememberance

After a quick tour of the city it was now time to make our way home, heading to the airport after a busy trip away in a surprisingly sunny and warm Ireland.

Posted by kmmk17 12:27 Archived in Ireland Tagged river bridge city ireland museum border Comments (0)

Sectarian Saturday

Ireland - Derry & Belfast

semi-overcast 20 °C
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After the first day of exploring the northern coast, today we spent the morning looking around Derry itself before making our way to Belfast.

After a well earned sleep, we had breakfast in our B&B before we headed into the city. Parking up beside the River Foyle, we then began our walk around the city, heading first up the hill towards the City Walls. As we made our way, we entered the only unionist area on this side of the river - the Fountain estate. This was unlike anywhere I'd ever seen. Not only Union Jacks flying, but the kerbs were painted in Red, White and Blue, and there were several political murals.

Fountain Estate

Fountain Estate


Derry Walls

Derry Walls

Walking just a bit further up, we walked through a gate and headed onto the walls themselves. These are some of the only intact city walls never to have been breached in the world. As we walked around the walls clockwise, we soon saw the fence separating the Fountain estate from the rest of the city. Not too much later we had a great view over the Bogside area - the main nationalist area of the city.

Bogside

Bogside


Free Derry

Free Derry

We then took a walk down into Bogside, past an Irish cross, before arriving at the Free Derry sign, a remnant of the three year autonomous area formed in the early 1970s. We took a walk around the area, past the many murals commemorating the Troubles, including those of Bloody Sunday, as well as more recent signs about interned community members and anti-Brexit/pro-unification messages.

Bogside

Bogside


Peace Flame

Peace Flame

We then headed back up the hill to the walled city, buying some souvenirs, before heading towards the peace flame and the Peace Bridge over the Foyle. Having now seen all the sights in the small city, we stopped by the local shopping centre before heading back to our car to head back to Belfast.

Peace Bridge

Peace Bridge

We dropped the car back off at the airport, before getting on a bus bound for Belfast, which after around half an hour arrived in the centre of the city. After grabbing our two day transport tickets, we got on a bus bound for the west of the city, where we would see the Peace Lines.

Peace Lines

Peace Lines

These lines are some of the worst examples of the sectarian violence in the city during the Troubles - a big metal fence separating the unionist and nationalist communities. We headed to Bombay Street, on the nationalist side, where the fence sits just metres from the back of houses, which have glass barricades over to prevent any damage from any objects thrown over the fence. This grim reality however almost seemed lost on a generally happy atmosphere walking through the area.

We then headed back and took the bus to the Titanic Museum - a museum celebrating the brilliant engineering achievements of the city that resulted in a ship it built sinking on it's maiden voyage! Nevertheless it was a very good museum, even if it was a bit overpriced, with lots of information and examples of what the ship was like.

Titanic Museum

Titanic Museum

By now it was already getting late, so we headed to a pub for dinner, before finally making it to our hotel on the outskirts of the city.

The following morning we headed back to the city, seeing a steam train pull through the local train station before we made our way to Stormont - the parliament buildings of the Northern Ireland assembly. This grand building sits imposingly on a hill over a grand park on the outskirts of the city, with an avenue leading from the road.

Stormont

Stormont

We waked up part of the road before heading back to the city, and took a wander around before our onward travel, stopping off at some of the shops, the docklands around the River Lagan, and taking a look inside the City Hall.

City Hall

City Hall

Inside City Hall

Inside City Hall

We then headed to the bus station for our onward travel over the border to Dublin.

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 09:02 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged park city ireland old border Comments (0)

Following Finn McCool

Ireland - Causeway Coast

sunny 20 °C
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With Northern Ireland being the only part of the UK I had yet to visit, it has always been on my list as somewhere to visit. And with Brexit just around the corner causing uncertainty as to how this tense and unique part of the country will look in the not too distant future, we decided to quickly pay a visit and literally walk out of the UK at an unmarked border whilst we still could!

With the weather always being unpredictable, expecting rain constantly, we were pleasantly surprised to arrive to a warm and sunny morning at Belfast Airport.

With the first part of the trip being about seeing the north coast and the Irish border, we hired a car from the airport, being much cheaper than taking our own over on the ferry, and after picking it up we headed out to our first stop, just up the road in Antrim.

We stopped by the shores of Lough Neagh, the largest lake in the British Isles. The legend states that Finn McCool (or Fionn mac Cumhaill), a legend in Irish Mythology, was fighting with a Scottish rival, and scooped a bit of land to throw at him - missed, and this formed the Isle of Man, whilst the missing earth flooded and created the lough. This seems highly unlikely, but nevertheless it was a nice spot to stop after getting used to the car, looking over the lake, which was so big that the other side could not even be seen.

Lough Neagh

Lough Neagh

After getting back in the car, we then stopped by the Tesco in Antrim to stock up on some supplies, before we made the decision to head up to the north coast today.

After an hour or so driving through the Antrim countryside, we made it to the port town of Ballycastle, where surprisingly the beautiful blue skies had disappeared amongst the mist clinging over the town. worrying, as our first site was on 15 minutes down the road, where we had hoped to obtain views over the Straits of Moyle in the North Channel over to Scotland. As we drove around the hilly rural roads towards Torr Head, with the weather clearing, we found a good vantage point, where it was just possible to see the Mull of Kintyre. Guessing that it would likely be no better down the road, we decided to stop here, enjoy the views, and then continue on our way along the Causeway coast.

Straits of Moyle

Straits of Moyle


Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

Our next stop was just half an hour up the road - the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. The bridge is a modern version of the traditional bridge in use for almost 400 years to connect a rocky island just off the coast to the mainland, at 30 metres above the sea level below. Upon arrival it was quite busy, being a major stop of the tourist trail, and as we walked the twenty minutes down the beautiful coastline we passed many tourists - mostly Germans and Spanish.

Causeway Coast

Causeway Coast

When we got to the bridge itself there was a little wait, as only 8 people can cross at once - however it didn't take too long before we made it to the other side.

Crossing the bridge

Crossing the bridge

After returning back to the car, we headed out for another 20 minute drive along the coast towards the jewel in the crown - the Giant's Causeway. However as we left the car park we were stuck behind a German tourist coach, then then proceeded to take the same roads as us, clearly taking the Germans to the causeway too.

Eventually we arrived at the car park for the causeway, and after taking a look at the visitor's centre, we made our way down the coast to the shore, where we could walk along the causeway itself. The legend of it's creation is that Finn McCool (yes, him again) built a causeway to fight a Scottish giant, destroying it upon his return. In reality it's of volcanic origin (with similar landforms in Iceland amongst others) and these are the last bits to remain above sea level, uneroded.

Giant's Causeway

Giant's Causeway

Although busy, the area is big enough to still enjoy it in it's full glory, and with the blocks forming steps it was also super easy to get around.

On the Causeway

On the Causeway

As we started to leave the area, we were stopped by a pushy Russian-American who wanted a photo. Before even answering he has given me his camera and directed how I should take the panoramic photo of his family on the rocks. Cutting out the signpost I swooped around, before stopping to cut out the tourist who had just walked into the area. Handing it back to him he then wanted another one, this time wider, and with less rocks - to which his wife smirked "that's what we're here to see". Next thing I was back taking yet another photo for this rude man. Thankfully he didn't want another perfect photo and we quickly made our mistake back up the hill.

As we got back to the car, it was another relatively short drive to our accommodation for the night - a B&B on the outskirts of Derry, close to the border with the republic. We arrived and checked in, before heading out to get dinner. We did however quickly stop by the village of Muff, just across the border. As we couldn't drive across due to the terms of our rental agreement, we parked up just metres away, and walked across the border, where the only sign of the border was a change in speed (km/h instead of mph) and signs welcoming us to County Donegal.

Muff

Muff

We then made our way to the local McDonald's to grab some food, before we went back to our B&B. We then went for a walk just 15 metres down the road where the rural track crosses the border. Even less noticeable than in Muff - just a solitary speed sign at a stream. As we walked back it occurred to us just how arbitrary this really is, and how deeply affected this part of the word is going to become should Brexit not work out well.

Chris over the border

Chris over the border

After a long day, it was now time to finally sleep, and tomorrow we would explore Derry before making our way back to Belfast.

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 09:50 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged hills coast borders lake ireland island border geology geography Comments (0)

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