We arrived at the Giant's Causeway early to avoid the crowds.
These strange rock formations were created by volcanic activity long ago. However, the folklore behind the Giant's Causeway is that this used to be home to a giant. The Scottish giant challenged the Irish giant to see who was best. The causeway was built to join the two countries so they could do battle. However, the Irish giant learned how much bigger the Scottish giant was and decided this challenge wasn't a good idea for his wellbeing.
On the day of battle, the Irish giant's wife dressed him up as a baby and he laid in wait. When the Scottish giant came to the challenge and saw the 'baby' giant, he feared that his opposition must be a giant of giants and fled back to Scotland, destroying the causeway in his wake so that the Irish giant couldn't chase after him.
Above: The strange rock formation that has formed into the side of the hill is called 'the organ'. If the wind blows the right away, it's said to give an eerie sound.
Below: This is a closeup of the 'organ'.
Above: This little gateway said that the we weren't supposed to go any further as the trail to the 'Giant's Home' (shown in the image below) had given way. The trail does extend a little past the gateway, and you could see the remains of what was a path. It had deteriorated and it wasn't safe to attempt.
If you look below, you can see towards the top of the hill what appears to be 'towers' on the hillside. Some of the signs would ask, 'Can you see the smoke from the fireplace?'
We took the Shepherd's Trail on the way out of the causeway. There was nearly two hundred steps leading out of the trails. Shepherds used this as a means to get out many years ago, I can't image how hard it would have been without the stairs lol
After touring the Giant's Causeway we went back to the visitor's centre to grab something warm to eat and drink.
From there we headed to Belfast. First on the agenda was a driving tour of the city.
Above: We drove past a couple of bars. The one above is said to still light their facility with oil lamps. we checked this place out later that day ;)
Below: This pub allegedly has operated as a bar since the day it opened in 1711. It has not changed its purpose.
Above, as we neared the Peace Wall, you could see it rise above the residential areas. Nearly a hundred of these walls were built around the city. This was to separate the Protestant and Catholic communities when they began shooting each other in the streets. For more history behind this, check out: https://theculturetrip.com/europe/united-kingdom/northern-ireland/articles/the-story-behind-northern-irelands-peace-walls/
Below: Many of the walls have been painted with street art. Most of them are political statements about injustices around the world.
We stopped at a point at the wall where we were encouraged to sign our names. Several high profile individuals have signed this wall including visiting presidents. Of course by this time, a lot of those names have most likely been painted over.
However, you can still tell that tensions remain when you look across the street and see the graffiti on the other side that says 'No Surrender' - a phrase that seems to be favoured by the Protestant community.
To the left, you'll see that there are flags hung up in the streets. The flag that is flying at this time is the Union Jack. This celebration has been going on since the 18th century when the English won the Battle of the Boyne. It is also called Orangeman's Day as it was William of Orange that won this battle. This celebration is one that is celebrated primarily in July where there are marches where loyalists wear orange. However, these celebrations last long into September or October.
To the right, our guide pointed out the remains of a bonfire where those celebrating had recently hosted a gathering.
As we drove along, we also noticed that there were streets that would have the Union Jack colours painted on one side, and on the other you would see the Irish flag colours painted on the other.
To me, the stories we learned in Derry Londonderry and Belfast were fascinating. At home we hear about civil unrest caused by religion, but you don't realize the scope of the issue until you're faced with evidence of it.
Cody's maternal side was raised Catholic, and I was raised Protestant. So for us it was mind blowing that it was an issue. Our guide told us that when she was a young girl and started dating someone, her father's first question to her wasn't 'what's he like', it was 'what church does he go to?'. She said there were several families that were broken apart because they would fall in love with someone from a different Church, and then would be disowned by their family.
The tension is obviously getting better, however, there are still several walls that remain standing. They remain standing because both sides are still uncomfortable about having them removed.
After our tour, we were dropped off at the 'Iceberg': the Titanic Museum.
Above: A scale model with regards to where the Titanic was released into the water in correlation to where the museum currently sits.
Below: The release site as it stands today. These posts would have helped guide the Titanic out into the water.
Above: I was sorely tempted to purchase this poster. This gives a good idea how impressive the size of the ship was.
Below: This is the Nomadic. This took first class passengers aboard the Titanic.
Above: When I was doing my research pre-trip (haha yes I know I'm a nerd), I had read that there was a replica of the oak stairs similar to the ones on the Titanic. We asked one of the employees at the museum about the stairs, and she said there are only three of those staircases that exist. One in Las Vegas, one at the bottom of the ocean, and one upstairs that was reserved for Sundays. They had it opened to the public at one time, however due to the wear and tear of tourists getting photos of it they had to make the decision to close it. Cody and I were tempted to try to sneak to the top floor to find it... but alas... we ran out of time and had to be on the bus.
So I had to settle for the set of stairs on the Nomadic lol
After this we got to our hotel room, which stuuuunnk! So we opened the window, dropped our bags and ran out. We found our new favourite pub Wetherspoons and had our supper. As you can see, Cody might have experienced a little glitch with the ordering app LOL
From here we met up with friends and went to the Crown. This bar was really cool. We got there early and were able to secure a booth. Now this wasn't like your typically booth here. It had a bit of a wall that went up to nose height and had a little door. When the bar got crammed, we could still visit without having to shout at each other. There was even something that looked like a door bell that I wonder if at one time was used to alert the wait staff that more drinks were needed.
To top this lovely evening off, when we got back to our hotel room we learned that that there was a nightclub next door. We could see the line outside the window and were lulled to sleep by the thudding of the music.
We headed to Dublin on our second last day. Our first stop was the Guinness Brewhouse. Going back through the images, I realize we didn't take a lot of photos. It was interesting, but due to time constraints we couldn't take the time we wanted to look at all the details. However, we were welcomed with a Guinness once we reached the top. It has a nearly 360 degree view of the city.
From there we were dropped off down town Dublin. One of the things we definitely wanted to check out was the Book Of Kells. The Book of Kells has a long history, as it was created in the first century. Its pages were made of calf skin, and the pages were beautifully decorated. This book currently resides at Trinity College.
For more on that history and why its significant, I would suggest checking out this site:
We were not allowed to take photos of the book. It was also hidden away in a dark room so that it was out of the damaging sunlight. There was a room just outside that showed large images of what the pages would look like.
However, my greatest surprise was went we excited this room and entered the 'Long Room' or the 'Old Library'.
For more information on the library, you can look here: https://www.tcd.ie/library/old-library/long-room/
The Library boasts over 200,000 of the library's oldest books. You can see that some of them are 'bandaged' with a white band around them to hold them together.
I have been dreaming of visiting this library since I was a little girl after I came across an image of it on the internet. Someday I knew I was going to finally see this spiral staircase.
All around the library, there are busts of males that contributed to writing or philosophy. Unfortunately there are no females currently decorating the room, but hopefully someday that will change.
The photo below shows a photo of the library from the outside. Trinity College was definitely a beautiful looking place.
We then headed out in search of coffee and to do some more exploring. We came across Temple Bar, where Cody fell in love with raw oysters.
Temple Bar is another one of those places where you think it's just a little place from the front of the facility. But as you delved deeper into the building it had so many interesting little rooms, some that were exposed to the outside.
This was our final night in Dublin. So after some further exploring, we went back to the hotel and got dressed for the evening. We went to the Merry Ploughboy, where we had a good hearty Irish supper. The entertainment was a band that sang traditional and modern songs (we were taught the 'proper' way to clap to 'Whiskey in the Jar'), and there were tap dancers that displayed their talents as well.
When we returned to the hotel, we played some drinking games with our tour group and had a few final drinks before bed. We had to be up early the next morning to catch our flight home.
Once home, we did what any reasonable Canadian would do - we ordered poutine at the airport in Montreal (Cody also got himself a proper caesar) and got the biggest cup of coffee at Tim Hortons when we landed in Calgary.
We are so thankful that we took the opportunity to go on this trip. Thank you for coming along on this journey with us! I hope you enjoyed reading along. If you have any questions on anything you saw, I would be happy to answer them for you!
Here's to many more adventures for all of us,