The Emerald Isle, Day 1

County Antrim

Exhausted and perhaps a little sleep deprived, we began our journey, or expedition as Robert would soon refer to it as. Our course was truly an ambitious one. For the next two weeks, we would be traveling along the entire west coast of Ireland. More on the itinerary, later.

My heart was leaping out of my chest and my stomach in knots when our plane finally landed in Dublin. I also must admit that I geeked out a bit, walking off the plane. All of the signs donned both English and Gaeilge directions. Weeks before the trip, I had dabbled a little in the language before jumping feet first into a Duolingo addiction. The practice must have helped as I’m proud to say I could read some words here and there.

Luggage in hand, we walked down the endless halls until reaching the Enterprise desk, ready to take the keys. It was our first time driving in Ireland, or any other country for that matter. I really shouldn’t say we. My husband drove almost exclusively with some help from my mother. It was my job to navigate and take in that breathtaking scenery known as Ireland.

The car, a Skoda Superb. I’ve never seen one in the states. It wasn’t a bad car, but it certainly seemed much larger than the majority of cars on the road. In the miles or should I say kilometers to come, I would understand why. The roads in Ireland are quite small. That would probably explain the surplus of compact cars on the road.

Robert took to driving right away. He was nervous, but I can’t say as I blame him. It was intimidating just looking out the window. Everything seemed so…close? The nerves didn’t last though. As the trip progressed, we learned that this was simply the Irish way. The roads were thing and the scenery gorgeous. In due time, those narrow roads ceased to bother me.

Four hours and two pit stops later, we arrived at our destination, the Valley View Bed and Breakfast at a farmhouse outside of Bushmills, Northern Ireland. Valerie, our host, greeted us with that famous Irish hospitality. She showed us to our rooms and informed us about all of the must see sights and scenes of County Antrim, including Giant’s Causeway.

Jet lagged as we were, we settled into our rooms for about an hour tops, before hitting the road again. This time, my mother took the wheel, driving us into town for a bite of fish and chips at a quaint shop, the Hip Chip.

Street View of Bushmills, Northern Ireland

After a quick bite, we headed out to the World Heritage Site, the Giant’s Causeway. If you are ever in Northern Ireland, take the chance to visit. It is a collection of hexagonal rocks that resulted from an ancient volcanic eruption. If you look out on a clear day, you can actually see Scotland. There is also tell of a giant, but I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know the entirety of that tale. We parked the car and walked the short trail, probably a quarter of a mile or so. The scenery along the way was peaceful, but upon reaching the stone columns, it was an unbelievable sight. Robert whipped out his GoPro and started climbing on the rocks, while my mother walked around the scene, just soaking it all in. As for myself, I snapped some photos and sat perched atop some rocks, contemplating the moment.

**If you do visit the Giant’s Causeway, it is free to visit. There is a visitor’s centre that provides audioguides and other info for a fee, but it isn’t required to park or to walk down to the causeway.
Giant’s Causeway, Bushmills, Northern Ireland
Giant’s Causeway, Bushmills, Northern Ireland
Coins from all over have been placed in between the stones. Over time rust has stained the rocks an orangish color. Giant’s Causeway, Bushmills, Northern Ireland

Despite the beauty, we all began to feel the exhaustion of the day, so we headed back to the B&B, making one quick stop along the way. We turned down a quick Irish road that led to a famous tunnel of trees. If you are a Game of Thrones fan, you’ll know the Dark Hedges. Out of the entire trip, this was one of my favorite places to photograph. Looking at those photographs, still brings me back to that magical place.

Dark Hedges, Ballymoney, Northern Ireland

I suppose that’s all for now. I’ll be back with more later.