Saturday, 3 March 2012

On the Paddywagon–Part 2

SAM_0463Day 2 (13th Dec) of our tour we set off for Belfast. As the bus climbed up as small range we encounted our first snow for the season! (In fact it was the first time mum had seen snow fall ever!!) The first stop once we reached the coast (which was our second stop, as we had a short play in the snow to satisfy the children in as all) was at Dunluce Castle, which was mostly built in the 1500’s to the 1600’s, with some remains dating back to the 1200’s. It was the ancestral home of the MacDonnell clan, until the kitchen collapsed into the ocean! You might be able to tell from the photos that it was freezing! Great views though…
034The next stop was at the Giant’s Causeway – which is A-MA-ZING!! According to local legend, the Irish giant warrior hero Finn MacCool (that’s the Anglicised version, not the Irish by the way) was mocked by the Scottish giant, Benandonner. So Finn tore rocks off the surrounding cliffs to create a path, or causeway to Scotland. He then told Benandonner to come fight, but after seeing the size of Benandonner, and being exhausted from throwing rocks all week, Finn ran home, where his wife dressed him up as a baby and he went to sleep in a cradle. When Benandonner saw the sleeping baby, he was terrified of how big Finn must be, if that was the size of the baby! So he ran off back to Scotland, destroying the path as he went and Finn MacCool wasn’t bothered by the Scottish again.

SAM_0480SAM_0483Of course scientists would have you believe that the rocks were formed when lava underwent accelerated cooling, which usually happens when lava comes into immediate contact with water. Crystallization occurred and the rocks cracked into their signature hexagonal shape. All this occurred about 62-65 million years ago, when the causeway was connected to the eastern seaboard of America, and was situated near the equator. Check out the video to see the Giant’s Boot and the Pipe Organ. Also note how WINDY it is (it was freezing that day)!

SAM_0493SAM_0494Lunch that day we went to a little pub that had a peat fire, Irish Stew and hot toddy’s. The peat fire was awesome, because it was snowing outside. My Irish stew didn’t have any potatoes in it! And mum had the hot toddy (a hot whisky drink – yuck). After lunch we went to the Carrick-rede rope bridge, which is a bridge that was used by fisherman to get to a small island of the coast, and used to only have one handrail! (eep). It was cold, wet, and windy that day, plus I was grumpy, so probably didn’t quite appreciate it as much as I could – I basically just walked over it and back again, didn’t get any pictures, and was annoyed when mum kept telling me to either stay still so she could get my picture, or was asking me to take her picture. But as with most things in life, it is not what you do that you regret, but what you don’t do, so I’m glad I did Smile


036Once we arrived in Belfast we went on a Black Cab Tour, which took as to prominent trouble areas. Similar to Derry, Belfast has a history of Catholics v. Protestants, which still seems senseless to me. The fact that it was also freezing didn’t help the concentration levels. One of the stops on the route was a peace wall, which we all signed. Peace walls have the purpose of creating a barrier between the two religious communities. There are gates that are still used, and shut at night, even today, to avoid trouble.

Mine and mum's 'graffiti' are in red - nice and easy to spot

For dinner that night we had ‘Boxty’, a traditional Irish potato pancake, thus continuing the food tour :) After dinner we has some drinks at The Crown Liquor Saloon, Belfast’s oldest pub. It was pretty spectacular, with private booths, and plaques which were used to strike matches on.

The funniest Xmas decoration ever!?