Apparently voted the best Chinese Restaurant in Ireland, it was worth a look and see. Irish food quality I’ve heard has had an explosion of flavors and variety and as someone who enjoys Asian food (and pizza) I had to give it a try. So four of use broke off from the group to give this place a go.
Overall I was quite happy to of tried this restaurant. The food was good and there was still an “Irish” vibe in the service and overall everyone in the restaurant seemed to be having a good time.
Without a doubt, the longest bus day on the trip we leave Northern Ireland and head south through some extremely scenic Ireland green landscapes as we head towards the costal port town of Galway. We make several short stops along the route, each bringing its own flavor of Ireland…
Okay just kidding, the first culture stop was an old megalithic stone court cairns where people used to bury the dead.
Our next stop was at St. Columba’s, an old Irish Church in Drumcliffe which is notable for a famous burial plot of W.B. Yates, a famous Irish Poet.
The Dumcliffe stop also had a washroom and a couple quaint tourist coffee shops right beside the Church Grounds.
While most of the bus decided to stop and have some snacks I found out the church was actually open and the nun in attendance was very friendly and happy to allow me to explore the lower level at my leisure.
As we said goodbye to Drumcliffe we continued for quite a bit of driving, I took some time to stare out the heavy glossed windows (cough cough – not 100% photographic friendly). This portion of the trip seems to be very focused on death and burial.
But our next stop was worth it, West Port, what I envisioned a coastal Irish town should look like… check out the next post!
It’s day 2 of the Shamrocker All Ireland Rocker bus tour and I (and everyone else) took the 5£ option for a walking tour around Londonderry/ Derry / Legenderry* with Martin McCrossan City Tours. This is the oldest walking tour company in Derry with our host being the daughter of Mr. McCrossan who is officially named “Mr. Derry” for his efforts promoting the city.
The tour kicked off at our hotel lobby as we were already well situated downtown. Our guide wore a bright yellow jumper (as you can clearly see) which made it easy to follower her along as the tour commenced.
Now like all walking tours, you do require a but of walking stamina for the 1.5 hours or so jaunt around the city. There are frequent culture talk breaks but as the city isn’t flat be prepared to walk up some stairs and hill sides. This is defiantly a “culture vulture” activity to learn in depth about the city’s divided history and present day realities.
It was clear our guide is very passionate about Lendenderry* (her coined phrase) and you can see that on her face as she discusses the various elements of “The Troubles” and the lessons learned since then.
Overall it was a great guided walk if you wanted to learn all about the Troubles and had questions the TV series “Derry Girls” didn’t fully answer for you. She was open and willing to answer tough questions various members of the group had and overall I’d rate this guided tour much more strongly than some others I have been on. Defiantly worth more than the 5£ so be sure to leave a tip.
After Belfest our Shamrocker Adventures All Ireland Rocker tour bus continued north towards the coast lines. Along the way we made a few stops!
Game of Thrones Fan? Well I’ve not inadvertently visited two major sites for Kings landing, with Dubrovnik Croatia being the other. I guess I should get around to watching that series…
The dark hedges basically line a road between two fields, one end is very popular and the site of most of those famous “Dark Hedges” photos you always see with tones of tourists clamoring to get selfies and photos. We came in from the other end of the trail… less people so viola!
After our brief stop at the hedges we continued north to Ballitoy, a quaint small village along the north shore of the island where we will be staying the night in order to get us quickly to Giant’s Causeway in the morning.
There is honestly very little to do in Ballitoy other than head down to the shore and get some breaths of fresh ocean air. Since I brought my Z6 and Sirui Video Monopod I decided to give some long-exposure photography a go as we quickly lost the light.
Once it was dark we returned to Ballitoy and some of us, despite the rain decided to check out the local pub, the Fullerton Arms. I wanted to try some local Irish Ciders, and get some solid Irish experience. There was live music at the arms and it seemed like a pretty lively place.
Its a Saturday night so for entertainment the locals tried to play matchmaker with some of the female tour-mates and local lads from around town. It was all in good fun but we eventually turned in as we had an exciting day tomorrow and some of us (me) were going to try to stick in an extra event before we left.
I and a few other adventurous souls woke up early in the morning in order to make the trek to Carrick-a-Rede, a rope bridge that you can walk over (with a ticket). We didn’t have time to wait for it to open, which is fine by me (I’m not the biggest fan of heights – despite what that zip-lining video I took may disagree).
Okay, now on to the main attraction for which I’m in Northern Ireland for… the giant’s Causeway!
Belfest is the capital of Northern Ireland and a major hub for “The Troubles” where historically Protestants and Catholics have dueled over the fate of Northern Ireland and its place within the UK and Europe. This has resulted in a very segmented city with distinct neighborhoods. The black tours gives you a opportunity to travel to various neighborhoods circumventing the complex series of walls wind through the city. Our Shamrocker Adventures bus dropped us off in the center of the city where the Black Cabs were already waiting to take us through the city.
This particular Black Cab company is Big E Taxi Tours and reachable at 07968477924
After learning about the catholic struggle during the troubles we moved to a location which separates the city with a significantly taller wall (taller than the Berlin wall) which is known as the “Belfast Peace Wall” as it separates the warring communities and keeps the peace.
The black cab drivers gave us markers so that we could write on the wall, quite a few people took them up on their offer.
Next the cabs brought us to Catholic side of the Peace Wall and a monument garden for people who were killed during the troubles called the Clonard Martyrs Memorial Garden.
Finally the tour was done and we got dropped off at the St. George Market to wander the stalls in search of lunch and any trinkets we might spy and want from our short time in belfast.
As a graduation gift to myself (who else is going to buy me cool travel presents) I decided that I should finally visit the Emerald Isle (Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland) as everyone else in my family as done so at least once… yay heritage! For most of the Ireland Portion I’ll be on a Shamrocker Tour, afterwards I’m heading to Southern England to visit with my brother and some free-styling adventure travel.
Given my down-sizing a few years ago in order to move to Toronto for school and a 1 bedroom apartment I had to divest of a few larger pieces of equipment and especially a large assortment of travel bags… So I did a bit of Pre-Trip Shopping 🙂
I also rarely (if ever) drink, for me its more a taste of the culture when I travel, although yes… for some reason I can’t seem to avoid checking out every brewery/winery/distillery I come across. Guinness is apparently the drink of Ireland so I managed to grab a can and give it a go… I’m told it tastes better in Ireland… one can only hope!
So of course this tiny little airplane was not going to fly me all the way to Ireland, but in Pearson International Airport fashion… its time for a walk-about in haste to board the next (and much larger) plane!
Long story short… I made it to Ireland, now to find some Guinness.