Dublin + Northern Ireland
Our first weekend trip outside of London was to Ireland, where we stayed in Dublin on Friday, and took a bus tour up to view the stunning scenery of Northern Ireland on Saturday before coming home on Sunday.
The samples we had as they taught us how to properly drink beer.
What's one thing you MUST do when visiting Dublin? Tour the Guinness Storehouse of course! If you're a beer enthusiast, this is for you. If you are not, I would still book a tour. On the tour we learned about the extensive process of making a Guinness, and they taught us how to properly pour a pint at a 45° angle (we all became a certified Guinness pourers by the end)! So how should one properly drink a Guinness? Here are the steps:
First, take a deep breath in and hold it while taking a big gulp of your Guinness.
Next, let the Guinness wash over your pallet for a few seconds.
Finally, exhale through your nose when swallowing.
That's it! Through this technique you can taste the sweet notes on the tip of tongue, roasted barley/coffee notes in the middle, and the bitterness of the hops in the back and throat. Now you can impress your friends with your Guinness drinking knowledge! (You're welcome).
I bumped into Micheal (a friend from high-school) here! He is studying abroad in Ireland for the semester, and we got dinner afterwards to catch up.
You also get to learn about the fascinating advertising revolving Guinness throughout the years, and the tour ends with a stunning 360° view of Dublin at the top of the Gravity Bar; this is when I bumped into another high-school friend, Neel! The Gravity Bar is where you can relax and finish your pint, and as the Irish say before drinking, Sliánte!
(360° view from the Gravity Bar)
OTHER FAVORITES IN DUBLIN
For their brunch or lunch, and mini department store.
For their burgers ('The Born Happy Chicken' burger was amazing)!
For their €2 pints and airy atmosphere.
For a nice walk.
The second half of our weekend trip was to Northern Ireland!
Before our tour, we made a quick stop at Belfast to get breakfast. This city is so charming and clean, and we could see rolling hills behind the buildings in some areas!
Belfast transportation: Pink double-decker busses.
THE DARK HEDGES
You're probably familiar with The Dark Hedges if you're a Game of Thrones fan (SPOILERS AHEAD)! This is the scene where Arya Stark escapes from King’s Landing in season 2 episode 1, traveling north on the King’s Road disguised as a boy. It wasn't as dark and foggy when we went, and there were gaps in the beech trees because some have been blown down due to the weather. The seedlings planted to replaces them will take 80 years to grow to a full sized beech tree, but it was still an impressive row nevertheless.
I took a couple of photos of the rocks and moss on the unpaved path before the main attraction:
It's a bit of a climb up, but luckily the basalts made step-like stairs that made it easier to get to the top! The temperature and timing has to be perfect for these hexagon tiles to form. If it was half a degrees off or half a second off, the lava would just turn into giant slabs. Of course, there is the other explanation that Giants built these, hence the name Giants Causeway. Ultimately, it's up to you to decide if it's science or the folklore work of giants.
The Columnar Basalts at the Giant's Causeway.
There were also houses on top of the green hills near the Giant's Causeway Museum that I had to take a photo of as well before continuing on our journey.
CARRICK-A-REDE ROPE BRIDGE
About 100 feet high, once crossed, you are able to see Scotland on the other side. It was pretty windy so the bridge shook a bit, but nevertheless it was safe. There has yet to be an incident!
Crossing the bridge.
Marrissa crossing the bridge on the way back.
Getting to and from the bridge was a long walk, but the scenery was so amazing along the way that it didn't matter!
We then made a quick stop by the small coastal village Cushendun before continuing the drive through the glens of Antrim.
Swan feeding in the canal.
View outside the Cushendun Caves.
The Cushendun Caves, for Game of Thrones fans, is where Melisandre was filmed giving birth to the shadow baby. The caves is actually a private property, so if you've ever wondered what bars were doing in this cave, this is why!
GLENS OF ANTRIM
The tour ended by driving through the glens of Antrim, and although the bus couldn't stop, the scenery took my breath away. I've included some of my favorite shots through the bus window below:
The different spray paint on the sheep is a way for the farmers to mark which sheep were theirs.
The glens were an inspiration for many singers, my favorites including Hozier and The Script, and I could see why. The only wish I had was that the bus stopped so we could stay their longer. The one-day tour was a great introduction to Northern Ireland, and if you're a nature lover, I would really recommend staying for at LEAST 3 days to take in all its beauty.
All-in-all, the weekend trip to Ireland was a fantastic first trip outside of London, and I think it was this trip where I caught the travel-bug! Let me know in the comments below if Ireland is one of your must-go places!
Until next time,