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Giant's Causeway

Belfast Day 2

We woke up extra early today (according to Matt haha) to join a Game of Thrones tour! Roughly 80% of the show's filming takes place in Belfast around the country and even their filming studios, so we were able to visit a lot of the filming locations. Our guide was a lot of fun and showed us clips of the show before we arrived to each location. We really enjoyed it, though I do believe our expectations were a little high- no cast members made a special appearance. Bummer.

Included in our tour was a visit to Giant's Causeway, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Giants Causeway sits on the Antrim coast and is a spectacular rock formation composed of endless hexagonal basalt columns. The prosaic scientific explanation is that the causeway rocks were formed over 60 million years ago when "a thick layer of molten basaltic lava flowed along a valley into the existing chalk beds." It's still weird to think that's the only place in the world where hexagonal rocks were formed. It was pretty cool to be able to climb about. Matt went on a little climbing excursion (as boys do) and luckily he didn't die. Yay!

Our final stop was at Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. It was originally rigged and used by local salmon fishermen, but now it's "a test of nerves" 30m above the rocks and sea. The height was nothing compared to what I've done in the past. One woman did need to be escorted across the bridge and we all cheered for her when she made it. We're so thankful we're not scared of heights!

Tomorrow, we depart for home. It is bittersweet especially because this trip was so short. However, we're re both excited for some space- me for some personal space and Matt for some physical space. Irish leprechauns are quite tiny! Lol. Until next year!

Posted by rniewiada 08:39 Archived in Northern Ireland Comments (0)

Near, Far, Wherever you are

Belfast Day 1

The first thing we chose to do today was visit the Titanic Museum in Belfast (where the Titanic was actually constructed). The entry ticket was a whopping £18.50 = $24 a person!! Sorry, what kind of museum is worth $24?!?!?! Regardless, I really wanted to go, so we did and let me just say, it was worth it. The museum was super interactive, very well sequenced, and even included a ride (what? Yes!). We were able to see how large ships were constructed back then, what it did for the economy of Belfast, and of course, all about the Titanic. We were able to follow along with people who were on the Titanic (crew, first, second, third class, musicians, survivors, and those who didn't make it). We saw video footage of what it looks like now 2.5 miles under the surface. Matt got to try out a morse code message since they used men aged 21-25 who could type at least 25 words / minute. And he passed! Remind us that if teaching doesn't work out...KIDDING!!

For dessert, we found a gelateria for Matt's first sampling of gelato. Yum! One of my favorite things about Europe. Matt found gelato to be "very creamy and overhyped." Disregard that. It's wonderful. He doesn't know what he's talking about. I tried a ricotta flavored gelato which combined two of my favorite things- cheese and ice cream! It sounds kind of gross, but I promise you it was heaven! I wish I could bring some back for all of you! Stuff it in my pockets, right dad? ;)

Posted by rniewiada 13:50 Archived in Northern Ireland Comments (1)

Mr. & Mrs. Fancypants


Today, we drove into Derry and were welcomed by a wonderful Airbnb host. David was so personable, had a dog (!!) and baked us homemade banana bread for breakfast. I tell you, if you have yet to use Airbnb, it is simply lovely! Staying at an actual house and meeting the locals is so wonderful. The hosts are such hospitable people to open up their homes to foreigners. I love it! If I ever have the opportunity to host at my future place, I totally will... Though I should check with Matt first, shouldn't I? :p

We didn't have long to stay in Derry (since it's in the UK (Northern Ireland), it was our longest drive day). So, we didn't arrive until late and only had the evening. We went downtown Derry for dinner and drinks and ended up a fancy posh restaurant. We certainly felt out of place, but we did our best to act high-class (note, did our best- not that good, lol). We were sat on the second floor right next to the window overlooking a Festival. So, after we finished our meal, we went down to peruse the Foyle Maritime Festival. We happened upon a wonderful street band with a beer tent and it was perfect to have found something so unexpected. We sang along while the rain sprinkled (we knew we'd get some sooner or later in Ireland). It was a lot of fun just walking around the carnival-esque festival and had a really wonderful evening. I love travel days like that- ones that just surprise you!

Hard to believe we leave for our final destination tomorrow.?

Posted by rniewiada 13:47 Archived in Northern Ireland Comments (0)

The Cliffs of INSANITY


We took off early this morning to road trip it out to the Cliffs of Moher. Famous for making appearances in two of our favorite films: The Princess Bride and Harry Potter #6 and also famous all on their own. Our travel book called them "stupefyingly impressive" and "staggeringly beautiful" when you have good visibility. And boy, were we blessed with fantastic visibility today. God has blessed us which such great weather during this trip and we are so thankful! Most every time it has rained we've been driving. It's been perfect, especially today. We had such gorgeous views of the almost entirely vertical cliffs that rise to a height of 214 meters. The cliffs stretch 5 miles along the Atlantic Ocean and were formed over 320 million years ago!! It was our most touristy day yet since the Cliffs of Moher are Ireland's most visited natural attraction with over 1 million visitors a year (that was nothing compared to the Taj Mahal I saw last year which attracts between 6-7 million people). This trip has been quite the experience so far because of its lack of tourists. I'm not sure if that's because of Ireland's location or that it doesn't have enough pull for travelers to visit. Regardless of the reason, we are thoroughly enjoying it!

That was honestly all we had time for today before driving to our hotel in Galway. Tomorrow, we cross the border into Northern Ireland (UK) where Matt gets to check off foreign country #2... I think I'm on #45... Honestly, I've lost track... But who's counting? ;)

Posted by rniewiada 12:22 Archived in Ireland Comments (1)

Ring of Kerry


Today was a drive day through the Ring of Kerry. The Ring of Kerry is a beautiful 179 km (111 mi) peninsula circuit winding with the Atlantic coast on the SW side of the island. We were warned by our last Airbnb host to go clockwise around the peninsula because the tour buses legally have to go anticlockwise. You read that right, not 'counterclockwise' but 'anticlockwise.' And the tour buses have to go anticlockwise because they hug the land while the oncoming traffic hugs the cliff shore. So, we were the ones hugging the onto the road for dear life every time a bus came at us around the winding roads today. Our host also told us not to have a face off with a bus because the bus will win. And if sheep cross in front of the car, don't use your horn or they'll use theirs!! Great advice to follow! The drive was quite the... experience... yeah, we'll go with that. It was scary and fun all at the same time, one of those "If I can drive in Ireland, I can drive anywhere!" ordeals. So, now we can drive anywhere! We stopped along the way to take some gorgeous photos of the cliff side. We cannot wait to show you all! I'm sure Googling them in the meantime will suffice.

Next, we visited Killarney National Park. We took a guided tour of the 15th century old Ross Castle inside the park and took a little hike to Torc Waterfall. The waterfall was beautiful, but with a similar climate to Michigan, Ireland has nothing on our upper peninsula.

After spending the day together mostly in the car, we needed a break... from each other. Spending the past six days together has been wonderful, but we've known each other a while and are aware of when we need space. So, I went out for dinner on my own, watched some Irish street performers, did some wandering, and ate gelato!! Mmhm. My favorite. And Matt went to a bar. Hahaha. It was exactly what we needed after the long drive day, knowing another one is happening tomorrow. Wish us luck! Wait, we're in the land of luck, we have plenty here! I'll make sure to bring some back!!

Posted by rniewiada 12:39 Archived in Ireland Comments (0)

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