Walking in the footsteps of giants

Portstewart Travel Blog

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Ah yes, the elusive elderly people who may be spotted in this region making their regular migration across the street to slow down traffic

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.

Causeway Coast
  Happy Birthday Shanny!

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.

Causeway Coast
  I finally got out of the parking lot only to immediately face a roundabout.  It wasn't bad at all, in fact I don't mind the roundabout part.  But I was very surprised when I was suddenly on the freeway. 

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.

Carrick-a-rede
  I spent the day traveling the Causeway Coastal route which is a very windy narrow highway that hugs the northern shore of Ireland.  It is incredibly scenic with each sharp curve revealing an even more breathtaking view than the last.  The coast was complete with sandy beaches, clear blue water, tall sharp green cliffs, sheep grazing, and stone ruins scattered throughout.  I would like to post pics right now, but there is no way to do that on this computer so you'll have to take my word for it until I can add them.

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.

Carrick-a-rede
  The bridge isn't that long, but since it is a rope bridge it bounces you up and down as you walk across it and stare down at the rocks below and impending doom. 

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.

Giant's Causeway
  While there a woman offered to take my picture and then I got into a conversation with this woman and another one sitting nearby from Australia. 

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.

Dunluce Castle
  On their recommendation I had the steak and Guiness pie which was really good, something like a beef in gravy with a puff pastry on top.  As we talked and ate the lights went out leaving the entire room pitch black for about 4 minutes.  We joked that it was like that restaurant in New York where you pay top dollar to dine in the dark.  They got it back on only to have it turn off again ten minutes later.  It did this over the next four hours we were there an additional 5 times.    Alex and Emma stayed out to chat with some Scottish bagpipers who came into the bar, but Helen and I left as I still hadn't slept well for days.

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!

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Ah yes, the elusive elderly people…
Ah yes, the elusive elderly peopl…
Causeway Coast
Causeway Coast
Causeway Coast
Causeway Coast
Carrick-a-rede
Carrick-a-rede
Carrick-a-rede
Carrick-a-rede
Giants Causeway
Giant's Causeway
Dunluce Castle
Dunluce Castle
Carrickfergus Castle
Carrickfergus Castle
Carrickfergus Church
Carrickfergus Church
Carrickfergus Castle
Carrickfergus Castle
Carrickfergus Castle
Carrickfergus Castle
Carrickfergus Church
Carrickfergus Church
Causeway Coast
Causeway Coast
Causeway Coast
Causeway Coast
Causeway Coast
Causeway Coast
Causeway Coast
Causeway Coast
Carrick-a-rede
Carrick-a-rede
Carrick-a-rede
Carrick-a-rede
Carrick-a-rede
Carrick-a-rede
Carrick-a-rede
Carrick-a-rede
Carrick-a-rede
Carrick-a-rede
Carrick-a-rede
Carrick-a-rede
Giants Causeway
Giant's Causeway
Giants Causeway
Giant's Causeway
Giants Causeway
Giant's Causeway
Giants Causeway
Giant's Causeway
Giants Causeway
Giant's Causeway
Dunluce Castle
Dunluce Castle
Steak and Guiness pie
Steak and Guiness pie
Haggis before
Haggis before
Haggis after
Haggis after
Portstewart Hostels review
This quirky little hostel embraces that bohemian feel and is its own little international microcosm on the shores of Northern Ireland. It has a great… read entire review
Portstewart
photo by: nicoleah