Saturday, August 9, 2014

7/11/14 Day 176 Ireland Roadtrip: Wild Atlantic Way, Northern Ireland

We leave Bryan's place ready for another day of adventure, and excited because today we are going to Northern Ireland, (a small chunk of Ireland owned by the British and officially part of the United Kingdom) Coincidentally on the road we chose to cross over...on the day we picked to drive...at the time we passed through, the policia were performing random border checks: to ensure that cars are licensed, MOT tested, not smuggling drugs or participating in any illegal activity, and probably simply because they can. A momentary panic before we drove through turned into calm cool and collected, while we explained how we got the car through our volunteer program, that we have not paid taxes yet because the paperwork just went through and should be in mail transit as we speak, that we were told the insurance should cover us until August, and no, we had no idea that you need an international drivers license to drive in an international country. With a bit of skepticism and a few phone calls, she sent us on our way with the instructions for getting an international license and insurance that will cover us, winner winner, no ticket today!  

So strange to pass from Ireland, across an imaginary line and suddenly we are in the United Kingdom, with British flags flying rampant the moment you cross over the border. We zipped on up to the North coast of Northern Ireland where the views, much like the Irish speaking portion of the island are absolutely spectacular! We stopped at Kinnegar Brewpub, on beautiful Rathmullan beach for an IPA that Kevin has been salivating for ever since the brew festival we stumbled on back in Westport in May and finally we get to see the beautiful beach this beer is inspired by. Next on the agenda a visit to the Bushmill's whiskey factory! We missed the last tour by ten minutes! Unfortunate, but we still got to have a look around the beautiful historical distillery. 

Less than 15 minutes of a drive and we were parking at the Giants Causeway (not in the lot) but on the free parking right behind the nearby pub, we did buy a beer, (so more like a 5£ parking spot that includes a free pint). *Since we have crossed that imaginary line we are back to pounds* Giants Causeway... there are no words, it is one of those few touristy, beautiful, Unesco sites that actually upheld and surpassed my expectations. It is so common that the hype is overrated and the place feels like a letdown, when if you had no expectations to begin with it would have been great, for example the cliffs of Moher.  For a beautiful sunny day on the weekend, there were not even that many people at Giant's Causeway, we were able to have our own time and space barefoot among the basalt columns, being lapped at by the frigid ocean. The myth of the place is that a giant built the causeway to get overto the Scottish giant and battle him, in scientific theories it was created by an ancient volcanic eruption creating 40,000 columns. 

With only a fraction of our daylight left we started for the Southwest border of the country as the stories about how sketchy Northern Ireland can be are numerous and varied, besides we are not fully sure of the wild camping laws, so it is just simpler if we make it back to the Republic of Ireland tonight. On the way we find a beautiful tunnel of trees, known as the Dark Hedges in Ballymoney.  We spend a few minutes ogling at the serpentine trees, reminiscing on our adventure, as tomorrow is the last day of our tour of Ireland. We finally cross back into the Irish Ireland after 23:00 and are ready to crash out, we find the first reasonable beach and put up the tent. 

We spent 9 days driving the Wild Atlantic Way, a 2,500 kilometer Waymarker road across some of the most beautiful scenery we have and ever will see in our life, what a beautiful adventure, and no onwards to a different portion of our journey!

British Pride much?!
Every city just littered with UK flags

Rathmullan beach at Kinnegar Brewing, 

Bushmills distillery

Basalt columns for days








The Dark Hedges

Camp spot just North of Dublin
Guinness lamb stew in Dublin
Black velvets in Dublin

Making sandwiches on the car, like the classy picnickers we are

Camp spot just south of Dublin

Section 4 highlighted in purple and with a solid finish down to Dublin

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