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  • Day6

    Bus Tour

    October 21, 2018 in the United Kingdom ⋅ 🌧 11 °C

    Not even 10 minutes into the trip and already our guide was giving us information on the tunnel we were passing through. The Dublin Port Tunnel is the longest urban tunnel in Ireland. That may not be a sight to see, or a destination on a map, but I found it pretty interesting. Now we're off and running, all the while enjoying classic Irish weather (light rain), and beautiful countryside. I can say confidently that I'm quite grateful for my first souvenir on a day like this.

    After driving for a while and stopping to get food (I got a chicken and bacon toastie), as well as use the facilities, we were back on the road. Suddenly, the tour guide says "Okay, were about to cross the border so get out your passport and ID's." pausing long enough that everyone on the bus had a moment to panic, she then says "Okay, go ahead an put them away, we've crossed the border." I thought it was a pretty funny way to bring the whole Brexit situation to light, and that they're still not sure what will happen with their border, but that may be because I would have been able to produce those documents. One of the other things she mentioned is that in Northern Ireland (U.K.) they use miles, whereas the Republic of Ireland uses kilometers.

    Our first stop along the tour was at Dunluce Castle. It had stopped raining, so we didn't really need our jackets, but to call the weather blustery would have been a vast understatement. Our tour guide informed us that it was originally owned by the McQuilllan family, but was taken over by the McDonnell family in 1550. Although this was just a photo stop, it was lovely to look at, and apparently it's the castle that is used for the Greyjoy castle in Game of Thrones.

    Nearing our second destination of the day we had to pass through Bushmills, where they're very well known for whiskey. Our guide also informed us that Bushmills is the oldest whiskey distillery, ever, and they started by using the water from the river right next to it. I guess Ireland wins that round. Finally we pulled up to Giant's Causeway, the place I've been looking forward to most. After a lovely walk down the cliffs, and roughly 20 photos later, the rock formations can finally be seen. Giant's Causeway was formed 50 to 60 million years ago when lava flowed up the coast to form hexagonal pillars, and the ones with iron in them have a deep red coloring. On a clear day, because it's only 17 miles away, Scotland can be seen from the causeway. Truly, breathtaking scenery.

    As a side note, because our bus had gone off somewhere during our time, people kept coming up to me asking if I knew when it would be back. I can only presume that I was the only person they recognized from the group because of my purple hair. At least I was able to reassure them that they wouldn't be left behind.

    From the causeway we continued on to Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, but due to the windy conditions we aren't able to cross over it, which was fine because we only had an hour at this stop. I suppose them not wanting us to get blown in to the ocean is a good thing. The bridge was made as an alternative to boats to get to the island for fishing. After stepping off the bus and spending 15 minutes walking the wrong way (the pictures were worth it), I was able to powerwalk down to the rope bridge to at least take a picture before making my way back to the bus. I was also the only person not wearing a jacket, apparently because I'm a lunatic.

    A short drive later we were pulling up to Dark Hedges. This road has beech trees over 230 years old and were planted to create an imposing entrance. One hundred fifty trees were originally placed along the path, but after a severe storm in 2016 only ninety-nine remain. This was another location that Game of Thrones has filmed, so unfortunately there was no way to get a photo without tourists in it, but it was still very impressive to see.

    On the way back to the bus from the final stop I stumbled upon a small walkway. At first I thought it might just be a garden that wasn't in bloom, but walking through I realized that it was filled with fairy homes. Dozens of them. Certainly an unexpected surprise, but a fun way to end my trip before heading back to Dublin.
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