Northern Ireland: Giants, Rope Bridges and Whiskey

Read about the first four days of our trip here

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It took us about six hours to get from Galway back to Dublin and then from Dublin to Belfast on the bus. We arrived in Belfast around 1:30 pm on a Thursday afternoon and made our way to our hotel. Since we had wifi on the bus ride from Dublin to Belfast I took advantage of it and booked us a Black Cab Tour for that afternoon.

We had about an hour to kill once we got in so we went and had lunch and then took out some pounds since we were now in the United Kingdom and they don’t use the Euro.

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The Black Cab Tour was so interesting and informative! It drove us through both the Protestant and Catholic neighbourhoods in Belfast and showed us the Peace Wall. It gave a lot of interesting history on the turmoil there which I admit I did not know much about. Did you know there is still to this day a gate that shuts at 7pm every night separating the two neighbourhoods? Our driver told us that while they’re currently “at peace” things are still very tense and could erupt again any day.

If you ever go to Belfast I highly recommend doing this tour. Seeing all the amazing murals was really, really cool too.

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At the Peace Wall where we signed our names.

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After the tour our driver dropped us off near the Belfast Continental Market which happened to be going on at the same time as our visit. It was a very cool market featuring foods from all over the world! We ended up having dinner here and then sitting in the park by the beautiful city hall for a while people watching.

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We retired fairly early back to our hotel and thanks to the black out curtains in our room slept right through until 9 am the next morning! So much for the early start we were hoping for. We took a bus to the Belfast International Airport to pick up our second rental car for the next two days (my turn to drive!) and hit the road to Bushmills.

I had rented us an adorable little cottage outside of Bushmills off of Air BnB months ago and was really excited for these two nights there. We were not disappointed! Our cottage was so cute. We really wish we’d stayed longer as it’s in the perfect location for things to do in Northern Ireland and was so nice to stay in and have so much space. It also could sleep six people!

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We were having another nice sunny day so we spent our first afternoon/evening in the area exploring. We visited Dunloce Castle, the Giants Causeway and drove to Portrush to get groceries. I swear around every single turn I was astounded by the beauty of the area.

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The view from this viewpoint was burned into my head. As usual pictures don’t do it justice. I just had no idea the natural beauty we would encounter during our trip!

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That evening we were SO EXCITED to get groceries and prepare a meal in our little cottage. That’s what five solid days of eating out will do for you! We bought groceries as soon as we got into the area and didn’t eat out once the whole time even though I’m sure there were many yummy restaurants. We just wanted some “home time”.

The first night we had an amazing snack plate style spread of cheese, meats, breads and fruit:

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I may or may not have also drank an entire bottle of red wine each of the nights we were in our cottage. What? We didn’t have anywhere to drive after dinner 🙂

The second day in the Bushmills area we slept in, ate breakfast at our cottage and did a little workout since we didn’t have to worry about jumping around and bugging people below us! It felt good to sweat. Once we got ourselves all together we headed out for our day’s activities. First stop was the Old Bushmills Distillery for a whiskey tour!

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Apparently this is the oldest Whiskey Distillery in the world! I found the tour interesting, but I still can’t get into whiskey. It all tastes the same (gross) to me. I know that both wine and beer were an acquired taste but I cannot imagine getting myself acquired to whiskey. I would only have one or two sips before passing it off to Eric to finish.

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After the whiskey tour we ate the lunch I’d packed for us from our groceries (cheese and ham sandwiches) and made our way to the Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge! Once again stopping at some view points along the way.

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I was obsessed with all the fields of sheep! The little lambs were so cute.

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The rope bridge was pretty cool and I think it’s worth a visit if you’re in the area. You get some really stunning views of the coast!

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After the rope bridge we headed for our final destination of the day; The Dark Hedges! Game of Throne fans may recognize this place.

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As I’m sure you can imagine all this driving (done by me since I was the only one on the insurance in Northern Ireland) meant we got to see some really cool places. Some of this driving took us on some very narrow back country roads and we felt like we really got a taste for the area — and we loved it. I actually enjoyed the driving for the most part other than the roundabouts. I hated all the roundabouts! I can’t say enough about the Irish countryside both in the Republic of Ireland and in Northern Ireland. It is just so beautiful and special. There’s really something magical about it. I really enjoyed the time we spent driving on random roads through the country side.

That evening we retired back to our cottage around 6 pm and had another spread of food similar to the evening before (and another bottle of wine). The next morning we had to get on the road fairly early to get our car back by 11 am. We did drive back along the coast Causeway roads though which led us to see even more of the area. I would like to go back one day and drive the entire Causeway route!

Oh and here is the view from the balcony of our cottage:

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After 3.5 amazing days in Northern Ireland we were off to Scotland!

More on that in the next post 🙂

21 Responses

  1. The photos are amazing! That rope bridge looks so cool and I bet the views along it were amazing. Northern Ireland is so beautiful. It’s not an area I would have thought to visit before but these pictures have me thinking I need to get there eventually! I love how green everything is and all the beauty along the coastline.

    I don’t like whiskey either. At all. But good for you for trying it!

  2. Marisa says:

    Aww I loved all the roundabouts! I wish we had them in the states! I was sad when I got back home and was driving and no GPS lady was telling me “In 800 meters enter roundabout and take second exit”. Haha. Whiskey is definitely an acquired taste which I acquired years ago. I love how warm it is, if that makes any sense. Probably not. Cannot wait to hear about Scotland! I wish we would be able to go next month while we’re in Britain but sadly it just didn’t fit in 🙁

  3. Leigh says:

    What did you think of driving?! My mom did all of the driving only because she was the only one who could drive a standard! Your pictures are gorgeous!

    • Amber says:

      Other than the roundabouts I didn’t mind it at all! You definitely have to focus when turning to make sure you turn into the left side but overall it was fun. And definitely the best way to see the country!! Eric can drive a standard but we paid extra to rent an automatic both times just to make life easier!

  4. Those trees in the Dark Hedges are AMAZING. So cool!

    I’m totally with you that it’s nice to do a local grocery shop and eat in while on vacation. I’m all for eating out a meal here or there, but every meal is so tiresome (and makes me feel like the whole vacation revolves around the next meal).

    So glad you’ve had a ton of fun up to this point on your trip!

  5. LG says:

    Lovely, lovely!! That little cottage is so cute. THANK YOU FOR SHARING!!!

    And…since you mentioned “snack plates” on your blog, we’ve been doing that at home now and then too because they looked so easy/good! It’s a great Friday meal…we pick a baguette, meat, cheese, veg, etc. up at Superstore and bring it home, have some wine and watch House of Cards. :0)

  6. Sue says:

    Such great pictures and such an underrated part of the world in my mind. We had a day less than you guys but a very similar itinerary (rope bridge, Giant’s Causeway, stayed near bushmills but didn’t get to the distillery, black cab tour) and like you, I was blown away but the beauty of it all. I don’t think I’ve ever seen as many rainbows in a day as I did driving long the northern coast line. So glad you enjoyed it and thanks for sharing – your pics are taking me right back

  7. NZ Muse says:

    Funny, I would rather drink any type of spirit (except gin) than beer or wine!

    Hope to get to Ireland one day, will definitely make a note to book time in the smaller vilalges.

  8. Kelly says:

    Ah, that bridge was in my Ireland guidebook and I really wanted to go, but it was clearly no where near where I was ha ha. I would really like the see Northern Ireland some day but I admit I’ve always been a little scared due to the whole “it could erupt any minute” aspect.

    I love renting on air bnb and homeaway. Eric and I love to eat dinners out so we don’t really “cook” on vacation, but I love being able to just make a bagel or pb toast for breakfast and easy lunches as well. Otherwise by the time I get to dinner I’m like I have to sit down at a restaurant again!?

    • Amber says:

      I think that’s really just Belfast. The rest of Northern Ireland is much less involved in the conflict. At least that’s what we got out of our Black Cab Tour and I will admit being in Belfast, especially after that tour, was a little unsettling but the rest of Northern Ireland was completely fine, swarming with tourists and we didn’t feel uncomfortable at all!

  9. Stephany says:

    I will admit that I’ve never had the wish to visit Ireland or Scotland, but your recaps are convincing me that maybe one day to visit! These pictures are so beautiful and I *love* the rope bridge – looks like so much fun!

    I’m not one for cooking on vacation, but renting a cute little cottage and having some quiet nights in after busy days out and about sounds pretty divine! What a good idea! (Plus, probably saved TONS of money doing that!)

  10. Nora says:

    You’re killing it with these recaps; love everything you’re sharing! The rope bridge looks fun (though I would probably pee my pants as I’m afraid of heights), and the cottage is just adorable. I love finding/renting places to stay in when I’m in a local area. Thanks for sharing all your updates with us.

    Oh, and whiskey? Yeah, not a fan of that, either.

  11. Alli says:

    How beautiful! Chris has been to Northern Ireland, but unfortunately we won’t get there on our upcoming trip. Someday though…

  12. What an incredible trip!!

    I want that meat and cheese. And the whiskey.

    Oh, and you two are seriously adorable.

  13. I would have loved to see Northern Ireland when I was there. Belfast looks like a cool city.

  14. Becky says:

    So so SO loving these posts!!!

  15. Shoshanah says:

    I can’t get over how beautiful all the views are! And I do think that bread, meat, and cheese is pretty much perfect vacation food.

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