Day two was all in Northern Ireland. The one thing to understand is that it is a completely separate country with its own currency and they will do everything in their power to remind you of this fact.
If you are renting a car, be sure it is permitted to leave the country as you do need to pay for the waiver and paperwork. I believe it was 20 or 30 euro. The gentleman at Sixt was really frustrating so I do not remember the exact charge. The currency is also the Pound Sterling which is the same as used in the rest of the United Kingdom.
If you try to pay for petrol at a station at 1am on the border of Northern Ireland and the Republic, they will politely tell you that they do not accept this “funny money”.
In the morning my first stop was Carrickfergus Castle is a Norman castle on the northern shores of Belfast Lough. The castle managed to survive sieging by the French, Irish, Scots, and the English. These days the castle houses historical displays.
Dunluce Castle was built around 1513 and perched right on the cliffs overlooking the north Atlantic. Sea caves litter the northern coast.
You are able to explore the old ruins of the castle up close in person. They were doing some restoration work on the southeast wall when I was there.
Beneath Dunluce Castle actually lurks a large cave open up out to the sea. This cave was used in the popular Game of Throne’s series.
The Old Bushmills Distillery was the next spot. They date back to 1608 and make some wonderful whiskey. I’m not quite sure who this person was but everyone seemed to be taking a photo of him so I figured I’d grab one too in case he turned out to be the next Steve Jobs.
The Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge used to be used by fishermen to cross over the island reach bustling fishing grounds. It’s said they could catch over 300 salmon per day before the spot dried up. These days, the Carrick-A-Rede Bridge was rebuilt in 2008 to the version that stands today and is primarily a tourist attraction. Similar to the sea cave, the bridge also made it into the Game of Thrones.
Continuing the Game of Thrones theme, I had to make a stop at the Dark hedges. When I arrived I was the only one there and it was quite interesting of a setting to see.
Shortly after as the sun started to dip, groves of people started showing up. Some decided to pose their cars in the center of the road, others just wanted to stroll through it en mass, and then you had some photographers with tripods trying to get a photo without a hundred people in it…. It turned busy. It even had people sitting on their window sills as the cars drove down the road so they could get a better video.
You could swear you were capturing golden leprechauns for the amount of excitement that was in the air.
In contrast to the first night, it looked like the weather was shaping up to just stay partly cloudy for the evening.
While not the dark hedges, these reminded me of a tunnel and I had to capture it. As there was no shoulder and I’m sure someone would be doing 100km/h around that bend, it was a quick sprint out of there!
The last stop of the evening was the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland. Over 40,000 of these interlaced basalt columns were formed when an ancient volcano erupted. As the luck of the Irish would have it, the rain started just as the sun finished setting.
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