Weather: Cold but fine in Dublin
Snow and Sleet in Belfast
Bucketing at Carrickfergus
Cold and windy at Carrick-a-rede
Cold, windy, rain and hail at The Giants Causeway
We asked reception last night for tea at 6.00 am so we could get an early start to our journey to Norther Ireland. They delivered the tea at 5.00 am!
So we got ourselves organised and headed for the station because we were told in the brochure that there would be 'light breakfast available'. Unfortunately there was no buffet car and our tour guide kept telling us that the drinks trolley would be through 'soon'. It finally arrived 20 minutes before we reached Belfast, and the girl completely ignored us and went straight through to the next carriage. We think she had run out of supplies.
Our seats on the train were reserved, so we were comfortable, and had a table between us. The train trip was really good - the views a great when it travels along the coast. The weather wasn't too good, and there was sleet hitting the windows, and we saw snow on some of the hills.
At Belfast station we grabbed a hot snack each and a bottled water and headed off with the group and the tour guide, to find the bus and were told we're not allowed to eat on the bus. So we gobbled down our food, while trotting along in the rain!! The bus was crowded, and the driver was .... Irish.
Our first stop was at Carrickfergus, but it was pelting with rain and sleet, so we just managed a loo break. No stop at Carnlough because the train had run late, so that meant that the bus took off late - You get the picture!!!
We continued around the coast road and the views were spectacular. We saw the Scottish Mull and the amazing limestone cliffs.
Carrick-a-rede was our first official stop, and this is the one I have wanted to do since we visited Ireland in 2000. We were given an hour, which seemed like a very long time. That was until we discovered that it is a Kilometre to the rope bridge, and this includes 185 steps down to where the bridge, constructed for the local fishermen, is strung between massive rocks. There's a limit of 8 people allowed on the bridge at a time, and of course there is always going to be some hero who decides to shake the bridge. I took my turn, and it was GREAT! I made sure to look down to the rough water, and hung on tight to the rope on either side. It was cold and windy, but totally exhilarating.
We didn't linger, but headed back to the bus. A group of three girls were a bit late in returning to the bus, and the driver started to carry on about the rudeness of people, and that we had limited time, and by tardiness of some, it impacted on others and on, and on, and on....
So after obtaining my 'B' for Bravery award, we were heading to Bushmills Distillery, which wasn't our Lyn and my agenda for the tour we had booked, but that didn't seem to matter.
We were given 3/4 hr and were told that if anyone was late back to the bus, they would be left behind. Unfortunately a Japanese couple were left!! Our tour guide late suggested to the driver that it's best to actually have a clock and show people that they must be back at a certain time, then non-English speaking tourists will not get confused. (The driver went back later to collect the Japanese couple)
Next we went to the Giants Causeway. By now it was 2.30 and we were very hungry and we all stopped at the Hotel for lunch. Lyn and I had the Beef and Guinness pie and a glass of red - Delicious!
We braved the elements and took the shuttle bus down to the amazing basalt columns that are the base of this World Heritage Site. We took a few photos, but it was just so freezing cold, it was hard to enjoy the view. It was also incredibly windy, so we jumped back on the shuttle and returned to the gift shop! When we returned to the tour bus it was hailing!
There was a very brief (4 minutes) stop at Dunluce Castle, for a couple of bravehearts to take a few dismal photos.
It was getting very dark and the bus took off south, via Ballymoney and Ballymena and Newtownabbey and to the Belfast Train Station.
We had one hour wait for our train and returned to Dublin in a temperature of +1C!!! But our Hotel manager told us that it had been a beautiful day in Dublin .... of course.
It was a very long and exhausting, but really enjoyable day!
Time for bed now.