Our flight from Cardiff to Dublin being cancelled made me nervous for a number of reasons – as you can imagine. One of those reasons was because Kristen and I had pre-booked a bus tour, and I doubted that they’d refund our money if we were unable to make it to the island. I also really really wanted to go on this tour.
It was a good thing our tour was for the second day we were in Ireland and not the first (because we would have totally missed it). As it was, after less than 15 hours in Dublin we were getting ready to get out.
We were travelling with Irish Day Tours for their Giant’s Causeway Tour. We looked at a lot of different touring groups, but Irish Day Tours won out. Not only did it take us to the Giant’s Causeway, but it also went to the Carrick a Rede Rope Bridge, and we got to spend some time in Belfast.
Yes, we could have rented a car, but then we would have had to pick the car up, worry about gas, worry about maps, worry about which side of the road we were driving on, etcetera, etcetera. Bus tours take all that worry away. Even if it means a limited amount of time in each place, you still get there and you get to sleep on the way. And those tour guides are pretty damn entertaining.
So at 6:30am, we hauled our tired butts to the pick-up location and headed to the North.
Our tour guide/driver was named Bud (easy to remember if you think of Budwiser – and he was very wise). He was funny and interesting and had so many stories. I actually took notes while he was talking (yes, I’m a dork).
Here are some of the things we saw:
The Twin Maidens (I don’t think you have to ask why that’s the name of these two islands – just think about it):
An inordinate amount of sheep, all with different colours:
Bud said that the sheep had different colours painted on them because they played on different football teams. He also told us a story about a tour he did where a woman had to take pictures of every single sheep herd they came across – even if it meant nearly killing her husband (who almost fell out of the bus trying to get pictures).
We also learned about the supposedly haunted Ballygally Castle Hotel; a small church that can only hold 8 people, where the windows are actually portholes that were meant for the Titanic (I have no idea what/where it is exactly); and the legend of St. Brigid’s Cloak.
We had a few rest stops, since it was such a long trip. One of those stops was in a small Irish town in Northern Ireland (we had to use Pounds instead of Euros to purchase things).
The town had a little memorial to a pigeon who helped out in the war. His name was Paddy and he survived German pigeon-hunting-hawks to fly ‘cross the Channel and deliver news of the D-Day landings.
I don’t normally like pigeons, but this guy sounds like he was all right.
It was a long drive along the coast, and I spent the first part sleeping, but it was really beautiful.
Next up: the Rope Bridge, the Giant’s Causeway, and an hour in Belfast.