Ireland '99: Day Ten
Day Ten -- September 5th, 1999
Well, I awoke with no memory of
Sabrina or any other dreams for that matter. But I did have the non-stop
squeaking of our bed permanently etched into my ears. The bed was the most
squeaky bed Jenn and I have ever slept in, and our restlessness of the night was
ample proof of it.
Looking out our narrow windows, we awoke to see things from our castle’s perch that were not apparent under last night’s dark and murky mood. In front of the castle was a field with horses with a river winding through, while another side gave birth to a beautiful lough. The place was still quite spectacular – not for its comfort, but simply for its ambiance.
We spent the day driving through yet
more of Ireland’s country roads. It seemed straight out of the movies to see
so many old Irish gentlemen strolling down narrow country lanes in their
Sunday’s best, doubtless on their way to church. Had I been thinking, I would
have taking a snapshot of one of these chaps. Driving through the country side
in the late morning, it was also interesting to see how crowded the church
parking lots were, including one church that seemed to be having a massive party
in the cemetery.
Still at another spot in the country
side, I stopped to taking a shot of the beautiful scenery, just as an Irish
fellow stopped with his shotgun and dog, eyeing for a different “shot” to
We hit one of the more major
highways on our way north, and I decided to let Jenn drive for the first time.
Other than stalling the car several times, she did quite admirably.
Somewhere on a back country road, we
crossed into Northern Ireland, passing nothing to say that we did. The only clue
was that all of the road numbers suddenly changed from N and R prefixes to A and
B prefixes. We pulled out our passports with the hopes of getting new stamps,
but got nothing.
We saw very little to suggest the
danger of Northern Ireland. We did pass by several compounds that seemed
unusually heavily fortified with high fences and rings of barbed wire. We almost
took a picture of one site, but luckily not, as the tour book said that snapping
photographs of military houses was one sure way to get promptly pull aside for a
friendly little chat.
By mid afternoon, we finally met the
northern coast for the first time. The sight of it renewed our awe for Ireland
and our disbelief that we are actually here. It was quite strange to be looking
north to see the ocean – indeed, it was the first time I have ever been in a
spot the looks north into the ocean.
The northern coast looked
distinctly Irish, with white chalk faces and strongly pronounced cliffs. On one
of the small beaches in between some bluffs, we saw a horseback rider making his
way over the sand.
Knowing that we were going to backtrack, we grabbed a quick B&B and then headed off towards the Giant’s Causeway. En route, we first saw the remains of Dunluce Castle, precariously balanced on the edge of a cliff. Evidently, the perch was so precarious that during a particularly strong storm, the entire kitchen that fell off into the ocean, complete with the kitchen staff and that night’s dinner. I had to jump a fence to get the shot I wanted and was stung in the elbow by a most vicious nettle (I continued to feel it throughout the entire day).
We continued on to the
Northern Ireland’s most popular attraction. In essence, it is a large magma
flow that cool at just the right rate so that the magma formed very strong
hexagonal columns. These columns have since been exposed by the ocean, making a
splendid sight of land meeting ocean.
After buying some pictures in the giftshop, we took the two mile hike around and down to the Causeway. The cliff faces continued to fill me with great awe, the sun was peeping out just right to light up a good portion of the green covered cliffs. Unfortunately, the sun disappeared again just as we made it to the Causeway.
Hopping around on the Causeway was
great fun. The hexagonal columns were broken off at varying heights, causing one
to be able to nimbly step around, as there always seemed to be a column at just
the right height up or down adjacent to the one you were on. The tops of the
columns varied from being either concave or convex, which made interesting
puddles and further increased the enjoyment of jumping around.
The columns directly along the ocean were quite black and, when combined with the white of the water, made for a beautiful sight. I remember standing down at the tip of the Causeway watching waves come crashing in over the jet black columns. I almost got caught by a massive (I mean massive!) wave several orders of magnitude bigger than the previous.
From the side, the water
draining from the columnar outcropping waterfalled down step by step. The
cascade made for another nice view in the contrast of white and black. After
spending a good deal of time playing on the causeway, we headed back up the
cliffs to our car. By the end of the hike, the calves of my legs were beginning
to really hurt (must have been all that dancing from the night before last).
From the Causeway, we moved on
towards the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. It is a functional rope bridge
connecting the mainland to a small island – crossing it is supposedly a rather
perilous endeavor. As we drove there, we watched a long line of sunbeams move
across the landscape towards us. We finally stopped at an overview and waited
for them to overtake us, but they petered out just before reaching our spot.
We then made it to the rope
bridge parking lot and walked down to it, but the bridge ended up being closed.
After all that, I was left only with my imagination providing the peril, much to
my disappointment. As a consolation prize, I walked out to an unprotected,
rather terrifying overlook of the rope bridge.
The overlook spot had some packed dirt spots the size of your foot suggesting that it was frequently visited, but upon getting there, I was nearly paralyzed at how dangerous of a spot it was. I leaned into the mountain instinctually, but that made it worse, as I realized that it increased the chances of me slipping which meant certain death. In hindsight, it was pretty stupid. I now understand why all of the pictures of the rope bridge all seem to be from an angle not quite as far out as what I saw.
On the walk back to the car, I
witnessed cows roughhousing in one of the neighboring fields. This is of
important note simply to myself, as the lethargic breeds of cattle where I grew
up would never show such boisterousness! Jenn and I also watched several sets of
massive waves hit the beaches far below us.
We headed back, stopping first for
dinner at “Snappers”, a hip place with an almost American atmosphere where
Jenn had salmon fettucini and I had scampi. We both realized how tired we were
becoming of fancy meals.
We returned then to the Hillrise B&B. It turns out that our quick spontaneous choice happen to hit the fanciest stay yet (and amazingly the cheapest too). We managed what I think was the best room in the whole house, complete with a balcony overlooking the beach and bay of Portrush. The bathroom had a huge, wide bathtub and had all of the finest small amenities. Even the doors to the balcony were of solid beautiful wood. I fell asleep in the bathtub (soaking my calves) with the sound of the waves landing on the beach emanating through the bathroom’s open skylight.
Proceed to the next day, or return to the Ireland '99 Main Page.
(c) Geoffrey Peters, intangibility.com, 2002. For more information
regarding this web page, please contact