On our second day in Belfast we booked ourselves on to a TOUR BUS – YUUUURRRRR!! Although not quite as exciting as a tour bus in which your favourite band would travel, this was a full day tour which took us to the magical land of Giant’s Causeway, with a few stops in between. We started our day with a HUGE breakfast at Park Inn Belfast, then got the coach from across the road from ‘The Crown‘ which is the most beautiful and unique pub I have ever seen (we also visited later in the evening to have a pint or two). It’s even owned by the National Trust because it’s such an iconic landmark in Belfast today. The Giants Causeway and Antrim Coast Tour set off at around 9am with our friendly coach driver Patrick welcoming us on to the coach and introducing himself as our tour guide for the day. I’ve not been on a coach for a trip like this since I was at school!
As soon as we were settled we departed to our first destination of Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, which was about an hour away from Belfast itself. Throughout the entire journey the coach driver narrated the drive and told us all the weird, wonderful and interesting facts of the areas we were driving through. We even went past the location where they’re filming the brand new series of Game of Thrones! Although my camera isn’t quite fancy enough to be able to snap the scene as we went past in down the winding country roads. In no time we got to the location where this (quite scary!) rope bridge was. We hopped off the coach and took a brisk walk past the cliffs and sea view to the rope bridge itself, which was pretttyyyyyy scary I must admit. I’m actually surprised I went over it, knowing the only way back was to go back over it again, eep! The bridge was originally there for fishermen to get across to Carrick-a-Rede island, over a 23 metre deep chasm. It was so windy when crossing and when I got a glimpse of the crashing waves below I nearly cried! But alas, I ran across and ran back again and I pretty proud of myself for making it. I am such a wimp.
The next stop of the tour was at Bushmill’s Distillery, where we stopped for lunch. Of course, on the short drive there the driver gave us a full history of the distillery and talked us through the varieties of whiskies they made there. It was only a brief visit to get some grub to keep us going, so we didn’t have a tour of the distillery or try any whisky, but we did have a pretty fantastic beef and Guinness pie. Yum. We then continued our way over the Giants Causeway!
Giants Causeway is an area of well, stones, which is the result of a volcanic eruption. Although this doesn’t stop the locals from having their own story about it which involves Giants dressed as babies and all kinds of madness. With Patrick’s Irish accent telling us the story like Jackanory, it made it all the more amazing to see when we got there. Known as the fourth greatest natural wonder in the UK, it’s just amazing to see in real life. It’s just a series of hexagonal columns for as far as you can see! The tallest of the stones is around 12 metres in height and we managed to clamber our way all over them to explore. Because it started to rain after about half an hour and my camera battery died from all the snapping, we nipped to the cute little pub which was by Giant’s Causeway for a pint of Guinness. We were in Ireland after all.
After we arrived back in the city at around 6pm, it was safe to say we were pretty tired! However, like I said, we did visit The Crown and have a tipple. I usually absolutely hate pubs, but the charm of the interior and friendly banter of the locals made it such a great atmosphere to be in. It’s the kind of place where you’d enjoy a proper good night on New Years Eve. I think The Crown might have just changed my opinion on pubs altogether!