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Northern Ireland

April 13, 2011

Please accept my sincerest apologies for failing to record my December Euro trip. Three months plagued with constant lethargy rendered me quite useless. Oh how I’ve missed you all and thank God I’m now able to think straight enough to produce a post reflecting on my more recent trip to Europe (end of March).

This being our first visit to Ireland, we scheduled an extra day to explore a portion of the Irish coast. As we drove up the coastal A2 road, we stopped in historic Carrickfergus to explore the town’s oceanfront castle. I just so happen to love castles, so any pile of medieval blocks and mortar proves to be a worthwhile spectacle for me. I’d recommend a quick look around if you harbor a similar level of exuberance for rustic architecture.

The Irish weather was atypically pleasant according to spring time standards (mostly clear skies and around 50 degrees fahrenheit). Although freezing in my opinion, local teenage girls roamed the streets excited to display their pasty white midriffs. Meanwhile, torrential down pours and thunderstorms engulfed Southern California. I’m thankful to have experienced this relatively good European weather, yet I hate how I always miss those momentously rare  back home weather patterns. Nothing new, this happens just about every time I travel.

As we continued along northern Ireland’s coastal road, we came upon the seaside town of Ballycastle. We had lunch at the Cafe Boyles which offered a selection of pastries and a nice menu of salads, sandwiches and a few other ‘wee’ menu specials. As you drive further you’ll come upon the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge which links the mainland to a small Carrick island. We didn’t make the stop, but the concierge at our hotel had recommended it.

Eventually we arrived at the Giant’s Causeway. Being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this natural wonder offered a shuttle service for 2.00 GBP per person (I think) which takes visitors to and from the ancient volcanic rock display.

As we traveled on we stopped for a photo op at the Dunluce Castle ruins. Try to get there at a decent hour so you, unlike us, can explore the ruins during business hours.

From there we made our way back to Belfast on the A26 and joined onto the M2 into Belfast. Not an enormously scenic way to go, but much quicker than the way we had come.

Fitzwilliam Hotel – Belfast ☆☆☆☆☆

There is a very small turn out on the street beside the Fitzwilliam where you can pull over and check in. Sometimes this area is occupied, so driving around the block a few times can become necessary until space is available. Valet was 17.00 GBP per day. Front desk staff were very friendly. The room was quite lovely and the bathroom was relatively spacious. No notable counter space though. When the mirror got fogged up after taking a shower, they had made a little no-fog spot on the mirror so you’re able to continue getting ready. Strangely it was way too high for me to reap any benefit. I’m not that short so… it was weird. Also, for you female readers, the lighting in the bathroom is extremely bad. 

The doors to the hotel room slam so incredibly loud even if you try to shut them carefully. That little design flaw needs to be addressed because when other people would come in and out on our floor during the night it would wake us up every time. Other than those couple of flaws, the hotel was really nice.

The restaurant had some good vegetarian choices at dinner, and breakfast was pretty good yet pricey.

We had a chance to walk around town and beside the city hall is a busy shopping street if thats what you’re into. Before leaving to the airport we had traditional English “Tea” for lunch at the Merchant Hotel. Be sure to make a reservation as it is a very popular place in a beautiful, historic building formerly a bank now converted into a hotel.

As usual, let me know if you have any questions at all. We loved Ireland so much! The people are so warm, friendly and we’re hoping to return again someday to explore this island more thoroughly!

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. April 14, 2011 1:32 am

    Wow! I’ve enjoyed reading this post. Ireland is really a wonderful place to visit.

  2. April 14, 2011 4:02 am

    im desperate to visit the giants causeway, should go this summer! thanks for sharing

  3. August 23, 2012 6:07 pm

    This is a place I would love to go. My last name is Fitzgerald, after all!

  4. August 26, 2012 6:19 am

    Thanks for bringing back great memories of my trip through Northern Ireland some years ago with this post.
    You are right Dunluce castle is great to visit.

    • August 26, 2012 11:18 am

      I’m glad to have evoked some great memories for you. I hope to get back to Ireland someday soon to explore other areas.

      • August 26, 2012 12:31 pm

        I also hope to go back to Ireland some day. It is a lovely country which we visited more than once.

        I have been going through my photos from Northern Ireland. Thanks to you I just had to see them again. If you like to see it too: http://vydnic.wordpress.com/2011/07/13/noord-ierland/ And if you click on to link to the folder with photos you will see more photos and also some from Dunluce castle

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