14th August – 21st August, 2016.
Day 1 – Arrival
London Stansted – Belfast International Airport ( Easy Jet)
Jessica is a friend we are visiting here, she also travels and together we travel around Ireland for one week; Gale met Jessica in London 16 years ago where they both lived and were flatmates; Jessica now lives in Bangor where she grew up, which is a quite big and nice town by the sea.
On the way here in the car from the airport we could see two big yellow cranes, the shipyard where The Titanic was built; in fact the shipbuilding industry used to be very big over here.
We are so excited to be the first visitors in her new house.
As soon as we get to her place we change our itinerary since the weather was going to be nice for the next couple of days and we decide to go North first.
Our tips: Crawfordburn is a cute village not far from Bangor we recommend to stop for a break.
Day 2 – Giant’s Causeway
Today we drive North along the Causeway Coastal Route, a scenic way we all enjoy. The final destination is Giant’s Causeway.
We stop for lunch on the beach at White Bay, the weather is so nice that we get almost tanned….in Northern Ireland!!!!
The Giant’s Causeway are basalt columns, a World heritage site and a national nature reserve today. The legend says that the columns were built by an Irish giant who had to walk along the Causeway to Scotland to fight with another giant.
The clear sky and warm weather let this day be perfect to visit the Causeway which is packed with people by the time we get here, mid afternoon.
Our tips: To have a walk in the reserve, that’s beautiful. Ballycastle: a cute town where we recommend to drive past or stop.
Day 3 – The West
Nice weather again today…and we drive West, which actually is the rainiest and wettest side of Ireland because of the ocean bringing in rain, wind and clouds making this weather so changeable but at the same time making the ocean so amazing.
First stop of the day for a coffee is Enniskillen; we then stop by a lake in this area for a pic nic.
On the way to Sligo we stop at Glencar Waterfall for a super easy 5 minutes’walk to the fall in this pretty nice area. The lovely weather today makes all the green around here even greener and brighter.
We stop then at Ross’s Point which is also packed with people and swimmers , the scenery is quite good here and we go for a walk on the North Atlantic beach of Mullaghmore. Everything is so relaxing, beautiful, not far from where we overnight and very close to those beautiful mountains we can see from this beach.
Tonight we stay at Benwiskin Centre where once we get here, we have few drinks outside listening to the gale coming from the ocean. In the kitchen we meet a cyclist from Cork telling us that at the end of his journey he will have been cycling for 21 days with a budget of 20 euro a day.
We share a room here and we recommend this cheap self-catering accommodation: Ballintrillick at Benwiskin Centre ( Hostel)
Day 4 – Galway
It rains all day along our way down to Westport where we stop for lunch in a pub and then Galway via the Wild Atlantic Drive.
It is a tiring day for Jess quite proven by the long drive and needs a well deserved rest before dinner.
Our Tips: Best part of today drive is the N59 between Ballina and Bangor and then the area around Kilmaine ( N84) is so lovely with lots of stonewalls.
In Galway we stay at Barnacles hostel right in the town center where ear plugs are welcome to be used. Easy to guess why……While Jess is relaxing, we head to the Garavan’s for a pint, where we meet a gentleman from Dublin, who is living here, that over a couple of pints and homesick recommends us amazing and magic places to visit in Dublin.
We had dinner at Quay Street Kitchen where ‘the catch of the day’ was very nice mussels and where Ale finds excellent the Guiness beef stew he had.
As that gentleman at Garavan’s suggested we tried to book at Oscar’s which apparently is the best fish place in town, but it was fully booked.
Day 5 – Cliffs of Moher
This place is magic. The Cliffs are breathtaking, stunning scenery and the walk on the cliffs is amazing. Please check out their Facebook page for weather conditions and visibility.
Tips: On the way East to Dublin from Moher there are a couple of cute villages we really like: Kinvara ( N67) and Bellyvaughan.
Once in Dublin the massive Guiness factory was just there to welcome us, this iconic giant for this country. We check in and we go to the Castle Lounge pub, we book our visit to the factory on line for the next day ( we suggest to book in advance the factory tour so that to jump any possible queue ) and we then have a beautiful dinner in a French restaurant at La Maison just next door, having some red wine while talking, laughing and feeling well together. Dublin has a good vibe. We share a hotel room at Drury Court Hotel ( hotel parking is free here til your check out time).
Day 6 – Dublin
We take it easy this morning.
We walk to Temple Bar, to the Trinity College ( in August there is a huge queue for the Book of Kells and the Library and we did not make it so we highly recommend not to do as we did) toSt Patrick’s Cathedral, and then by bus to Guiness factory, from where you can have such a nice city view from the Gravity, the rooftop bar, which being so packed when we get up there, we choose to have our pint at the Arthur’s Bar instead, a pint of Guiness that comes with your ticket.
Back to Jess’s place in Bangor in the evening, we have a yummy ‘cacio e pepe’ pasta with Pecorino Romano that we got from Sheridans Cheesemongers in Dublin.
Day 7 – Belfast area
This morning we take even easier . We are invited by Jess’s family for a traditional Irish breakfast with crispy bacon ( yummy) sausages, poached eggs, fried tomatoes, butter , Irish soda and fried potato bread ( yummy ). We get to her parents’ , in a very cozy house where we are welcomed by this couple of former teachers. The three of us are questioned about where we have been to, what we have seen or have not, like proper teachers do with their students. Lovely family. Her dad cooked an excellent breakfast for us, they were as well excited as we were to meet each other for the first time. With Jess’s Brother and his daughter we walk together up the road to see horses for the little girl and it is so quite around here, relaxing and green .
On the way back to Belfast, we are told to go through the Peninsula which apparently is very good and it is actually. There is a ferry that takes 10 minutes to cross the Lough but for us today it is much longer. We queue for one hour because there is a Triathlon event in the Lough going on and we were just expected to wait.
Our tips: We recommend to drive around here because it is lovely.
Once we get to Belfast we have not too much time to spend here and we promise ourselves to come back because we like it very much and it seems one of those fast changing places. Completely different than Dublin, from our point of view is very interesting. We do not regret not to see those places that remind the Troubles back in the seventies/ mid-nineties; today tourists come to visit those places which were most affected in the past like the Murals that can tell the past history – yes, it is our first here and but Belfast is not only about its past troubles.
Our tips: Jess takes us to the Sunflower, one pub definitely not to miss out, we just love it so full of….everything!!!
Last night in Northern Ireland for the Ale & Gale so we go out in Bangor to one of Jess’s drinking spots, where she can catch up with local friends and cousins, the Fealty’s Back Bar where the band Sea Rats played such a nice bluegrass music…..that was CRAIC.
Thank you Ireland!!!
Day 8 – Back home
we had such a great time with you in your country , thank U. Travelling with someone local is just priceless. It has been such a pleasure to visit both part of the Northern Ireland, part of the Republic of Ireland, to meet your family, to enjoy the time with you, talking, sharing ideas, moments and this could happen today just thank to the decision we both made ( Gale and Jess) few years ago
Ale & Gale