Walking in the footsteps of giants
Portstewart Travel Blog› entry 3 of 11 › view all entries
At 4:30 I just got dressed and walked out to the train station. Almost all the doors were locked so I had to walk almost the entire perimeter to get back to the train. I checked in really quickly, despite checking my bag (didn't want to have the haggis taken away) and them taking individual pictures of everyone going through security. They then checked your picture just before you boarded to make sure it was you. Got into Belfast and up to the rental car place, only to be told that their only automatic was not returned in time despite me reserving it months ago. I waited an hour before I gave up and rented one from another agency.
Sorry, out of time so I'll finish this later.
Ok, I'm back now. I walked out to my car and of course tried to get in on the wrong side. I think I made a pretty graceful recovery though, as I just put my bag into the seat like I meant to do that. So after finally getting my car, I sat inside and basically stared at the controls for awhile. The setup is essentially the same, except the turn signal is on the left side, oh and the steering wheel is on the right side of the car. I pulled out and didn't hurt anyone so that was good. But I couldn't get out of the parking lot for another 20 minutes because they had started repaving a section of the rental car lot that was blocking the only exit. I couldn't back up either as some guy came up right behind me as I waited.
It's really disorienting driving on the other side. I no longer seem to have a natural feel for the size of my car or how far I am to the right or the left. As a result, I did drive over a curb or two, but not too bad given I was so new to this. I'd rather err to the left then to the right and hit some oncoming car I figure. Somehow I managed not to make any wrong turns and I was in Carrickfergus in no time. I stopped quick to check out the castle and the sea, before taking off again.
My first big stop was at Carrick-a-rede rope bridge. It is along the coast at the end of a long path up a steep hill is this bridge that connects the mainland with a rugged stone island covered with tufts of thick grass. Along the mainland at this place the cliffs are a stark white with sandy beaches and strong waves pushing up at the shore.
Just a few miles down the road is the Giant's Causeway which is very difficult to describe without photos. Essentially nature has created incredibly unusual rock formations consisting of tall rocks that are almost identical hexagonal shapes. They are all about a foot in diameter on the surface, though their heights varied widely from a few inches to 30 feet. The result is this crazy looking uneven pillar structures that are perfect for climbing on as they create almost an uneven staircase. I'll post pictures soon and you can decide if my description makes any sense at all.
It was getting to be late afternoon and I still didn't have a place to stay for the night, so I found a hostel in my Lonely Planet that sounded good as it had a kitchen for me to cook my haggis. :) As I walked up, I ran into the Australian woman from the Causeway and her two daughters who immediately invited me to dinner with them. I quickly got a room and walked with them down to the center of Port Stewart a pretty little coastal town known for its surfing. Her name was Helen and her daughters were Alex and Emma who were my age. We found a cute little pub and enjoyed beer and Bushmills (whiskey that is brewed about 5 miles away) with our dinners.
I got back to the hostel and microwaved my haggis sharing it with the rest of the guests. It wasn't that bad. It looked like raw hamburger meat except that it was black and white instead of red and white. The flavor was like a really salty smoked pork. Several of the guests were surprised and ate several bites of it, but it was huge so I did throw a lot away. But I've now tried haggis!