2011 UK and Ireland travel blog

Dunfeverin Castle

The Causeway

The Causeway 2

The Entrance to the Causeway

The Causeway 3

The Causeway 4

The perfect pint

Unusal beers

The only self serve laundermat on the Emerald Isle

Belfast


This entry is a little late: that is, the morning after. Last night in Belfast staying at the business centre hotel in downtown, this supposed upscale hotel did not have free WiFi. In all the hotels in Ireland, even in the inns on the remote west coast, WiFi has always been provided free of charge. But here they charge 5 pounds an hour so forget it. As I write this entry it is 9AM Thursday the 22nd and we are in the luxurious ferry lounge in Belfast awaiting our sailing on the Stenna Line to Stranraer, Scotland. Here they have free WiFi. Yesterday morning we left most enjoyable Derry in the chill and drizzle. I passed on breakfast this morning planning to get a good cup of coffee at the McDonalds down the street finding hotel coffee to be ghastly. Joan & Mother went to the morning buffet that all hotels provide and is included as part of the lodging price. Unfortunately they went down just a little too late, for a busload of Germans had swooped down like a flock of Teutonic locusts devouring almost everything, leaving only very slim pickings. In quite a few of those hotels, catering to the last of the tourist season, they feed the tour buses first. I got my good McDonalds black coffee with a couple of shots of espresso...it sure hit the spot. Our destination was the famous Giant's Causeway on the north Alantic coast. The rugged coast is again quite like Oregon's coast with the winding narrow highway, the long stretches of sandy beaches, the pounding surf and yes, even some surfers of course in wet suits. There are white chalk cliffs here which are very unusual and by the time we reached Giant's Causeway the cold wind was howling and the driving rain coming down sideways. The Giant's Causeway is just as the pictures show. The remarkable basalt columns, stones and steps look as if they have been deliberately set by some ancient and talented landscaper. Stretching out into the surf,the six sided stones are set snug, no two of the same height creating a very irregular surface. Glistening slick with the surf and rain and very slippery the stones presented a real challenge when venturing out upon them which I did. Joan & Mother wisely decided not to. Quite the experience and of course I managed to step into the only mud hole. We all three got thoroughly soaked but were left enthralled by the Causeway. From there it was on to Belfast for our last night in Ireland. Through farming country we encountered several huge farm tractors hauling trailers loaded with great loads of freshly harvested potatoes. Overtaking these wide vehicles on narrow roads takes extreme caution. We checked into the hotel in mid afternoon and Joan & I set out to do our urgently required laundry. We happened to find Ireland's only semi-North American style laundromat not far from our hotel. The kind where you do your own. So while the wash was going, we popped around the corner for a couple of pints in working man's pub. Nice friendly chaps running the place, even allowing me to pose behind the bar to pull my own pint of Guinness. At last all clean clothes, back to the hotel, a little walk about downtown Belfast with Mother and then dinner. With regret we leave Ireland for we so enjoyed it, but now the adventure moves to Scotland. A three hour ferry ride and then a night at Loch Lomond. It's been grand so far. Another blog to follow tonight. Cheers to all, Steve & Joan & Patricia

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