We have been a lot of places and have seen a lot of things. Sometimes it is by accident, and sometimes on purpose, but we have been blessed either way to experience so much! I thought it would be useful for other people to have recommendations of where we have gone. Each post will have a location title and include links of where to stay and what to see as well has what we learned. Thanks for visiting!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Giants Causeway

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Giants Causeway and Belfast

On our last school break we took a long weekend up North. Our first stop (B) was in Sligo. Sligo is a pretty big town by Irish standards. We didn't see too much but went straight down the Standhill road until we saw teh coast. It was so beautiful, rough waves on rocky beaches with huge sand dunes a short walk away. We ate at Shells restaurant which was recomended by a friend. The atmosphere was a typical beachfront vibe and the food was fresh and good. The best was their brown bread, it was moist, dense, and sweet. We bought a loaf to go.
We arrived at our self catering cottage in Bushmills (C) around 5. There were enough stores and restaurants in the village to get us set up, and the views were spectacular.

We stayed at the Ballylinny cottages. It was 250 GBP for 3 nights and we had 4 bedrooms, two baths, and a fully equipped kitchen. Alan, the proprietor was great, he was friendly and helpful and available for any questions.

The next day we went down to Belfast to tour the city. There were so many beautiful buildings, and so much sad history. Being American we aren't always aware of international politics and current events, but being in Belfast and learning about everything that has happened, and what is still happening was really eye opening.

We ate at McDonalds and then right across the street was the double decker tour bus. We had originally signed up for the Splash tour where the bus tours the city then turns into a boat and tours the river, but at the last second the river was closed for dredging (even though we had made reservations only 2 hours before) For our trouble we got a half price family ticket on the red double decker. It was cold but a great concise history of the city. I really recommend it for families. Especially because you can hop on and off anywhere you like.

That night we were back at Bushmills and had dinner at the Nook. The Nook is listed on many travel sites but as far as I can tell doesn't have a site of its own. It was fantastic as far as pubs go. The menu was interesting and fresh, the tables were roomy, and the atmosphere was excellent. The Nook is a restored school house. It had a great fireplace and lots of open space which is rare in an Irish pub. There were great old photos all the wall of families visiting the causeway. They also had blocks for the kids to build with at the table while they waited for their food. The weekends get busy but on a Thursday night we had the place to ourselves.

The next morning we met up with our friends and went to see the Causeway. We took the bus down and just explored the scenery all morning. Parking cost 6 GBP and the bus was 2 GBP for adults and 1 for kids. The bus was worth it though because otherwise the kids would be wining about all the walking, plus the tickets were good for all day. The Nook is walking distance from the parking lot so we were able to have lunch there and then take the bus back down for round two of the Causeway. Make sure you dress in layers, have good shoes on, and read all the safety material. This is not a good place to have a stroller. Our friends had a baby backpack and that was perfect.

In the late afternoon we wanted to stop by historic Bushmills Distillery. Its the oldest whiskey distillery in all of Ireland. It was a hard sell to the kids but it worked out because the last tour is at 3:30 pm and we had missed it. Instead we went to nearby Port Rush.

Port Rush is a good size holiday town in beautiful surroundings. It was busy even in February, so I preferred staying in our quiet cottage on the coast. But we were able to find a great place to eat called Coast Bistro . If you get there around 5 you are fine, any later you have to wait. The food was fantastic- we loved the Florentine pizza (spinach and pine nuts on a thin crust) BUT the restaurant is really a weird set up. You have to go up to the counter to put your order in. But it's not fast food, it feels really upscale. Other then that I really recommend it- just make reservations!

On Sunday we got up early and went to church in Colraine. (About 20 mins away but a good size town) There is a lot of shopping there and it was easy to find a Burger King to satisfy the kids. Then we were on our way home but we decided to take the long way. We took the coastal roads all the way to Belfast. It added probably 3 hours but the scenery was so amazing that it was worth it! We finally made it to Dublin and ate at the new truck stops along the highway. They are really nice and right off the road. From Dublin to Galway was a straight shot but there are tolls! Be prepared, they only take cash or Visa/Mastercard. They do not take Laser! Also on teh M50 there is a toll road that records your plate number and you have to remember to go to their website the next day and pay. Its a huge pain, cost 3 euro, but if they have to bill you its 6. And yes even in a rental they will find you. They send the bill to the rental company and they add it to your bill.

I hope this article was informative and helpful!