Although it has been almost a week since this adventure took place, I decided I still want to write a post about it because it was definitely the best day of this semester, and possibly more.
Last weekend we had another group excursion through our provider (CIS), in which we went to Northern Ireland. We drove up Friday afternoon, explored Saturday and the first half of Sunday, and then we had to go back to Dublin. (Not that there is anything wrong with Dublin, I’m just not really a city girl.) We stayed at a hostel in Belfast, but we ended up going all over the country. Over the course of these two days, I got to see things I never would have thought I’d get to.
The sightseeing started on Saturday, where we began with a walk along the Derry City Walls. We were told some of the history behind the walls themselves and the long-standing differences between the Catholics and the Protestants. Although interesting, I’m not going to discuss this anymore because religion is not my cup of tea (and I’m sure everyone reading this is more educated on the subject than me anyway), so we’re just going to move on.
After getting lunch somewhere in Derry, we boarded the bus and headed on out to the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. I think this is the northernmost point in Northern Ireland, and we were able to get a glimpse of Scotland from the cliffs. After the walk to the bridge, we waited in line to cross where we were able to just relax and take in the view. A short while later it was time for us to cross, and it was such a fun experience. It seemed like most people were either terrified of the bridge or loved it. I was in the latter group, obviously, and did not even feel the need to grip the ‘railing’. When we made it across, we were again greeted with a spectacular view. We took some pictures and some selfies, and eventually decided to head back across. On the way back, I attempted to take some artsy/cool pictures of me walking on the bridge and the view, but as expected the majority of them came out blurry as it is a rope bridge after all, so it was pretty shakey and rickety. Overall, I loved this stop and would do it again in a heartbeat. Definitely one of my favorite things we’ve done so far.
After everyone had piled back into the bus, we set out for our next destination, which was THE PLACE I was most excited to see whilst here – Giant’s Causeway. By this time in the day, some of the group was getting frustrated because we had to skip some of our other planned stops (which were Game of Thrones filming locations) so we could get to Giant’s Causeway while there was still daylight. Although I was definitely a little disappointed as well, I was still extremely excited for the rocks. That’s right, Giant’s Causeway is just a bunch of cool shaped rocks. Why was I so excited for it? I honestly don’t know, but when we got there it was absolutely incredible. We were able to walk around and explore some of the rock formations and take some pictures, but our time was cut short because we were still trying to squeeze in one of the GoT filming locations.
We all rushed back to the bus hoping to get to the Dark Hedges with enough daylight left to take some pictures. From what I’ve seen of the place online it is a cool looking road, so I don’t know if it’s because it was late or maybe I was just really tired by that point, but it was pretty underwhelming. I guess that fact that it was used in the show is pretty awesome but other than that I wasn’t super impressed. A lot of the other people in the group really enjoyed it though, so I guess it was worth it.
The next day we had a much lighter itinerary, which started with the Titanic Experience in Belfast. In preparation, I watched Titanic for the first time a few days before so I had some clue of the events (obviously I knew the basics and I wasn’t relying on the film for facts, but it was a nice excuse to watch a movie and that’s good enough for me). It turns out that the movie is fairly accurate as far as the depiction of the ship, a lot of the details were there. However, there was one thing, a pretty big thing, that was different. In the film, when Titanic is sinking (spoiler alert), the ship breaks in half. According to the museum, this didn’t happen and once the ship was completely vertical it just slowly sank. I don’t know if maybe this just hasn’t been 100% proven or if they did that in the movie to make it more dramatic, but I was kinda surprised when they said it sank whole. Overall the museum was nice, there was a lot of reading and information and that’s cool if you’re into that sort of thing.
After the Titanic Experience, we drove around Belfast where we saw the International Wall and then the Peace Wall. This is another marker of the religious differences that literally divide the country. We all got the opportunity to sign the wall and then began the drive back to Dublin.
I really enjoyed this excursion for the most part. By the second day, I was pretty exhausted but the things we did that first day were absolutely worth it. I think I can go ahead and make the claim that Northern Ireland is home to the two most amazing views I have seen in probably my entire life. Definitely the craziest things I’ve seen since abroad, and I don’t think I’ve seen anything remotely as breathtaking in the US. This trip also marked the halfway point of the semester, meaning I have about two months left here in Ireland. Although it’s sad to think about, there are so many fun things planned for my remaining time here that I won’t have time to be sad. Plus, when all of these things are added to the list of amazing things I’ve already done here this experience will truly be something I remember for the rest of my life. Until next time – Cassidy