Tag Archives: Ireland

Yay, a good day in Northern Ireland!

13th May 2013

With a bit of backtracking again this morning I got out of Derry and headed in the right direction to see the Giants Causeway. Came across a sign for the Giants Causeway Scenic Route, yeah, I’ll take that, better than staying on the highway. Then I kept passing these little signs about some road being closed between certain times but didn’t take too much notice until I came to a bloody road-block – WTF again! I cannot believe the trouble I am having with getting from A to B at the moment. Okay, turn around and head back to where I’d seen a couple of vans turn off earlier and go that way; oops, I’ve gone from small road to even smaller one, but it’s too narrow and wet to turn around so I keep going and eventually come out somewhere near where I’d turned originally. One day I am going to learn, look it all up properly, take notes and follow the damn directions, don’t take detours – one day………

Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland

Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland

I didn’t realize but the Giants Causeway is under the National Trust and classified by Unesco so there’s a massive visitors centre and car park quite a way from the site with all the whizz bang facilities. Shop, cafe, interactive displays, guided tours, audio tours and buses to ferry you back and forth if you wish. I got my audio guide and headed down on foot, at times I almost got blown along, the wind was ferocious. It really is well worth a visit and they present their tours and information in a very original and entertaining way. The mythical story of how the causeway came to be is much more fun than the scientific facts, guess that’s to be expected though. I thought I’d only be there maybe half an hour or so but dragged myself away after a few hours to face the road again.

Finally I used some common sense when booking a place to stay; as probably my only sightseeing in Belfast will be the docks where the Titanic was built, I looked for something around that area. See, my thinking was that it should be well signed, because they now call it the Titanic Quarter. Yay, I was right for once, big signs all the way and straight to the hotel with no dramas, even had time to take in the big new centre this afternoon as it stays open until 7 at night.

Entrance to the Titanic Centre, Belfast

Entrance to the Titanic Centre, Belfast

Now, if you have even the slightest interest in the story of the Titanic, this is one excellent place to go. I’m always a bit skeptical when they put these big visitor centers in, but this one is something else. I would go so far as to say it’s the best of this type of thing I’ve ever visited. There are nine different galleries that take you from conception to the aftermath and if you go to Belfast, do not miss it. I absolutely loved it and am coming back tomorrow for a walking tour around the dock area for more of all things Titanic.

So, two successful visits in one day – in Ireland, no less – maybe my luck has made a turn for the better; fingers crossed!


Filed under Mid-life travel, Northern Ireland, Travel

Ireland – May 7th & 8th, 2013

Firing up the engines on the ferry to Ireland - what pollution?

Firing up the engines on the ferry to Ireland – what pollution?

I caught the ferry from Fishguard (what a name!) in Wales to Rosslare in Ireland – I thought the ones we caught between the Greek Islands were big but this one was absolutely massive, with 7 decks and a mile of places you could spend the few hours crossing. You have to walk an unbelievably long way from the ferry to the terminal, almost as bad as Dubai airport – on second thoughts nothing could be that bad, last time I came through there I had to walk twenty miles, go up and down about thirty levels in lifts then catch a train to get from where I landed to where I had to leave from – all in the same terminal!

An old couple sat with me after a while and we chatted almost the whole way, they were in their 80’s and were on a week long bus trip. They were so cute, he was all dolled up in a suit coat and tie, just lovely to talk to.

I have a car for the next 10 days - and red ones go faster!!

I have a car for the next 10 days – and red ones go faster!!

The Budget car hire desk was like none I’ve ever come across before either. There is one staff member, a lovely 70 year old woman, who was absolutely fabulous, full of laughter and tips; she also came out to the car with me and gave me precise directions to my B&B – which I then proceeded to drive past five minutes later! Clover Lawn B&B was gorgeous; coffee and home made biscuits with a few other guests when we arrived, and a lovely hostess to boot. Dinner at a little pub just down the road was a great end to a bit of a tedious day spent mostly travelling.

I had a ball the next morning, took me 5 hours to rack up 80 kilometres on the speedo – I took tiny little back roads, stopped all over the place to take photos and found some amazing places. I came across a castle in the middle of a small town, just sitting there in the middle of a grass paddock surrounded by houses and shops. Lots of lovely wild coastline, some nice beaches, lovely old farm buildings and so much bright green grass and trees it almost hurts your eyes. The only trouble is you can’t always stop when you come across something interesting  – the roads are VERY narrow with hedges right beside the road.

One of my first roads in Ireland - how cool are the trees meeting over the road

One of my first roads in Ireland – how cool are the trees meeting over the road

I did manage to stop at an old cemetery with the ruins of what I guess was a church in the middle of all the graves. I almost had heart failure – again – when birds came flying out of the tower part of the ruins as I walked towards it. It would be lovely to have the time to find out the stories behind some of these places but I’ll just have to be content with storing the memories of seeing them.

I stopped at Tintern Abbey for a look, but could only look around the outside, the inside part was closed for upkeep – while I was there another 3 cars of people stopped as well. Then I drove all the way down this peninsular road to see a place called Loftus Hall – supposedly the most haunted house in England – and it was closed too! They do tours on the weekend but not yet during the week, there were quite a few other people there wanting to go inside as well, so I wasn’t the only one disappointed.

It’s a tad frustrating when you go places and find them closed, especially when they nearly all have websites but don’t update them with closures. Oh well, I’d best not get on my soap-box, it’s bound to happen I suppose.

When it got to 2pm and I was still three or four hours from Cork I thought I’d better stop foofing around, so took to the motorway for the rest of the trip. I did stop in New Ross at the Dunbrody Famine Ship – by accident really, I pulled in to the car park to look for directions and realized the ship was right there beside me, so figured I was meant to have a look. I didn’t know anything about the Irish going to America so it was a real eye-opener and they tell the story through acting the parts of passengers which made it even better.

My first experience trying to navigate through a city to find where I was staying without a map or GPS – and it was raining too! I had looked on my phone before I took to the highway so had a bit of an idea and only had to stop once to have another look so it wasn’t too bad.

But……………… I had chosen my first crap hotel!!   It was the Windsor Arms Hotel, the bar downstairs was okay and I’d already walked back to where I was parked, moved the car into a car-park across from the hotel and taken my gear back with me – all in the pouring rain –  before I saw the room, otherwise I might have been tempted to leave and go somewhere else. It looked like they were sort of in the middle of renovating, it had been freshly painted, you could just about get high on the smell, the bed and bedding was comfy but that was about all it had going for it. There was a double bed, two singles and a tv on the wall that wouldn’t even turn on, and not one other thing in the place – it was just dodgy! But, I thought, don’t worry, it’s only one night, and it’s up enough stairs that I should be safe – stop being a princess. Then I tried to have a shower – mistake, big mistake – NO F’N HOT WATER!!!! I tried everything, left each tap running on their own for ten minutes, fast, slow – didn’t matter what I did there just wasn’t any hot water. I gave up in disgust because there was no way I was getting dressed again and go traipsing back down 50 stairs to the bar to complain at 10:30 at night. I went to bed in a huff, got up at seven the next morning and tried the water again with no luck – so I packed up and left without seeing anyone or paying them.I think that could be classed as my first tanny (tantrum, for the non-Australian readers) of the trip!!

I wasn’t quite as successful getting out of Cork as I’d been finding my way in, but thanks to a helpful customer at a servo I stopped at, I made it with only one little scenic detour. So, Cork was a big non-event for me, which is a shame really, but there’s plenty other places to go and see – hopefully with hot water!


Filed under Ireland, Mid-life travel, Travel