Sunday, November 7, 2010

Northern Ireland

One of my favorite parts of our entire trip this summer was Northern Ireland. I thought it was such a beautiful place with so many great things to see. The tip top part of Ireland has a rugged coastline, but has gorgeous, seemingly untouched water, stunning rock formations and views of neighboring islands. Even though I knew we were not at the most Northern part of the world, it certainly felt like it at times. The sun did not set until almost 10:30 at night and was back up again around 5am. In mid June, we needed jackets and ski hats. Well, my girls did anyway. I would love to go back one day and really spend time exploring the area. We did a quick whirlwind tour in 1 night and 2 days. Not enough time to soak it in, but enough time to fall in love with it. I would love nothing more than to have a little white sea cottage in Bushmills to spend my summers.

So, first things first, where did we stay? We stayed at the Valley View Inn just southwest of Bushmills. It was a quaint little B & B complete with rolling green fields full of cows. Very Irish countryside. The rooms were all different, and ours was very accommodating for the 4 of us. We had a queen size bed and 2 twin beds in our family room. They took our order for breakfast the next morning and to Sarah's delight, pancakes were on the menu! I warned her they may not be like what she would get at IHOP, but they absolutely were. Even better. You even felt like the butter was freshly churned and the syrup came from a tree outside. Neither were the case, but the place just gave you that feel. I would stay here again if I wasn't so set by trying to stay by the sea next time!

Sarah trying to decide which bed was going to be hers. Looks like Lauren decided on the big bed. She did. Mommy and Lauren got the big bed.

SO when we arrived there the evening of June 6, the lady at the Inn recommended we go to Giant's Causeway that evening. Mind you it was a Sunday evening, it was already about 7pm, and I was worried that the girls were getting hungry for dinner and that the sun was going to drop soon and it would be freezing. Boy was I ever wrong. What a great suggestion she had. It was the best time to go. There were no crowds (we almost had it complete to ourselves) and it stayed light for us for hours. It was a bit cool, but oh how lovely it was to be there near sunset. If you are not Familiar with Giant's Causeway this is it...

It is an area made up of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns that were the result of an ancient volcanic eruption. Most of the columns are hexagonal. The legend of it is that an Irish Warrior named Fin McCool built the causeway to go fight his Scottish counterpart in Scotland. The geological history supports the legend because there are similar hexagonal basalt formations at Fingal's cave on the Isle of Staffa in Scotland. Giant warriors or not, it is a truly spectacular place. A sight not to be missed!

That night we had played around at Giant's Causeway so much that we did not start looking for a dinner place until 9pm. This was a problem because most places closed on Sundays at 9pm. We did, however, find a dive of a place that sold fish and chips called a Flash in the Pan. From it's cover it was a dumpy sort of place, but from the taste of the food, it was one great choice we were left with. (Charlie's mom had a different opinion, but that is another story for another post. Let's just say that having eaten at this place almost left us all wondering if we were going to need to cut the trip short by a couple of weeks and head home to the states. Stay Tuned) Anyway, the food was great and we headed off to bed late and got up early for our better than IHOP breakfast and to head out to the Carrick Rope Bridge.

So yes, I did bathe Lauren while on the trip...That brown above her lip is the first sip of Chocolate milk she had had in about 5 days. She was so proud of her "Chocolate mustache" and was in chocolate milk bliss.

Sarah was also in bliss, but hers was soda bliss. She didn't waste anytime sucking that one down. Gotta love vacations!

Carrick Rope Bridge: Another amazing stop. Quite a hike to get to it, a bridge I will never cross, but one gorgeous location. A must do (or at least a see) if you find yourself in Northern Ireland.

Our last stop as we jetted out of Northern Ireland that day was Dunluce Castle. We did not even actually pay or go into this attraction, but we took a stop and took a few pictures.

Then it was peanut butter sandwiches in the car and off to Donegal.

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