Belfast and Causeway Coast

A few things I don’t want to forget from our trip:

Halle said the soundtrack for Iceland is Lord of the Rings. For Scotland it’s Harry Potter, and Ireland is How to Train your Dragon. I think she’s spot on.
“It’s a wee bit slippy.”
When the Irish people welcome you, they don’t say, “Welcome to Ireland.” They say, “Your very welcome to Ireland.” I like it.
Sea Sharks–the kids teased Rusty non stop about him saying “Sea Sharks.” As opposed to land sharks or air sharks.
After an object came hurling at him Josh said, “That’s the duality of man–do you try to catch it, or protect your balls?”

We walked off the plane in Dublin to Ed Sheeran blasting in the airport. How appropriate. I tried to buy a SIM card for my cell phone to save some money on international fees, only to discover my phone is locked and wouldn’t take the SIM. So instead of saving, I wasted. Not the last time this would happen in on this trip….We rented our car and hit the (wrong side of) the road to Belfast. We quickly discovered that Ireland loooves their round a-bouts. 3 cheers to Rusty for braving the roads for us. 

We checked into the hotel and then, after a 30 min rest, we made our way to St George’s Market. We give it a meh. But we were hungry, so it got the job done. Then we walked to the Titanic museum. It was so well done! We learned a lot about that time period and the people who built and sailed on the Titanic. 

We found an arcade to kill time before our next adventure. Our favorite thing ended up being this ball game. The balls would rain down from the ceiling and then it was a race to see who could get the most balls into your basket. 

My favorite part of Belfast was definitely the Black Taxi Political Murals Tour. We were picked up from the museum by our driver, who spoke very fast and with a very Irish accent. He had to slow his speech way down, and it still took a ton of concentration to understand him. 

He taught us about the political violence between the Catholics and the Protestants in the 80’s and 90’s. It was fascinating (and sad) to hear stories of bombings, shootings, arson that happened all over the city. Blake tried hard, but he was too tired and I was too hard for him to understand the drivers accent, so he zonked out in the car. 

We ended at the Peace Wall. This wall divides the city between the Catholics and Protestants. On one side you see British flags flying everywhere. On the other, the Ireland Fri colored flag is on plastered in yards and along road sides. Our guide said that many people compare the Peace Wall to the Berlin Wall. But he said that isn’t a good comparison at all. He said, “on each side of the Berlin Wall, all people wanted to do was hug each other. On each side of this wall we wanted to kill each other.” 

Even though there hasn’t been any sectarian violence in years, still all the gates around the city are closed around 10:30pm to keep people separated. Diving deeper into the history of Ireland was probably one of my favorite parts of this trip. It’s such a sad, and at the same time, inspiring history.

The next morning we left Belfast and drove to the Causeway Coast. It is jaw-droppingly beautiful. The lush green coastal cliffs popping off the stormy clouds and grey ocean water is stunning. We stopped at Magheracross viewpoint to get our first look at Dunluce Castle. It was built in the 13th century and housed the Clan MacDonnell for a couple hundred years. It is thought to be the inspiration for Cair Paravel in Chronicles of Narnia.

We had dinner at a cute little fish and chips place in Bushmills. Josh was trying to open his tartar sauce packet, and in doing so, it squirted clear across the room and splattered on a customer standing in line. Luckily, he was a good sport and we all got a good laugh.

Halle here–I truly didn’t believe Giants Causeway was a natural phenomenon. The perfectly circular rocks in perfect gradients right along the sea felt too good to be true. But there it was, in all of its amazing glory. Mom and I were on one side admiring how the rocks create pillars in the cliff when Blake came barreling in and hit mom. Turns out dad was timing them and if the boys could get across the rock field in less than a minute, they earned a euro. A lot easier said than done, lots of the rocks were super slippery and unstable. It rained for a little bit which added to the slippery mess, and made for an exciting hike out. Nature is so cool! 

We hiked along the Red coastal trail for a few miles until we were soaked and freezing. Everyone was clamoring for the first shower at the hotel.

We stayed at the Crockatinny Guest house in Ballintoy. It was an adorable Bed and Breakfast and we shared a family room.

Rusty–Halle and I weren’t quite ready to be done adventuring, so we walked 30 minutes to another castle in the pouring rain. That was a really nice walk, talking with her things went quickly. It was really fun. And the castle was beautiful and it was neat to have it to ourselves! Loved that part. The night was fine except for I guess I had a couple violent snoring episodes that scared the kids😞

Halle–I saw the ceireke-a-rede bridge online and was very excited to learn we were going to it. It was original used for fishermen to walk from one island to the next with their fish and has been used for over 100 years. It was in a gorgeous location, walking from one sea cliff to the next over a rickety rope bridge. Walking over the water is such an incredible feeling and we enjoyed just soaking it all in. Dad rocked the bridge a little on the way back and Blake made it very clear he was NOT a fan of that. Super unique and fun! 

Our last stop in Northern Ireland was to go inside Dunluce Castle. It’s so fun getting to explore around the old ruins and imagine what it would have been like to live in this beautiful place such a long time ago.

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