This is a long overdue trip report and totally off the cuff so I am not sure what form it is going to take!
I flew from Stansted with the lovely Ryanair, and was greeted in Dublin with the fanfare on the plane informing me that another Ryanair flight was on time! Oh joy.......
I checked into the Roxford House Hotel (reviewed separately) and spent the day wandering around before my friend was due to arrive from the US the following day, full of the nervous excitement you get when you first arrive in your destination, feet itching.
The next day, mild enough to be out without a coat, my jetlagged friend knocks on the hotel room door, replete with gifts from the US. After catching up on some sleep, we waste no time in heading out- firstly to the Guinness Storehouse and then Kilmainham Gaol. We took one of the HOHO buses. A tip for future travellers: take the green bus because this one has live commentary- the other only has recorded commentary (we took the wrong one, but then remembered the green one being really good on a previous trip to Dublin). I remembered going to the Church bar previously and thought my friend would like this so took her there. We heard our first (of many!) rendition of Whiskey in the Jar.
On our next day, we took a cycle tour of Dublin. My bike was called Molly Malone :) Now, I am not at all confident on a bicycle but the tour was pretty easy and the guys made us wear all the safetly gear. We got to see parts of Dublin that we otherwise would have missed, and it was very enjoyable. One of the guys running the tour was also a musician so later that night we went to The Celt where he was playing. We also enjoyed food in here (reviewed separately)
The next day we left Dublin. Having never hired a car before, the nerves set in as we went to the airport to pick up our hire car. We used Hertz and had no problems- we got the car that we had requested. As 'the one used to driving on the left', I was designated driver for the whole trip, while the Thelma to my Louise was chief navigator. Luckily we had a happier ending than those two, but on the down side there was no Brad Pitt figure in our story!
It was then a nice easy drive to Belfast, where we checked in at the Tara Lodge. We both really enjoyed Belfast- we were there on a Friday night and the city has a great vibe to it. Our location at Tara Lodge was great because we were in a studenty part of town. We went on a black taxi tour (I can't remember the name, sorry) and our driver Steve seemed to have an encyclopedic knowledge of 'the Troubles', while remaining neutral. In the evening we went to see a traditional Irish band called Dervish at the Ulster Hall. Both the venue and the band were fantastic. Before leaving Belfast we went on a walking tour with a blue badge guide who was again very knowledgable and gave a fantastic insight into the city and its history.
The next couple of days were spent with relatives of mine in Ballymoney, which we used as a base to explore the region. We had a wonderful day driving the Antrim coast road. It was sunny and peaceful, though scary at times driving along those cliff edges! I was more confident in the car by this point and began to really enjoy the driving and the freedom of having a car. I think it was on this day, on the way back into Ballymoney that we had to stop for some geese crossing the road! Those 'rush hour in Ulster' postcards are no joke! Of course we visited the carrick-a-rede rope bridge and made it to the Causeway at sunset, where we were gifted with a double rainbow. How to describe the Causeway? It's both quiet and dramatic with the sound of the crashing waves.............it really has to be seen, experienced- though of course it is a photographer's dream as I think it photographs really well.
Hopefully I will make a part two soon.........there is a lot to say about this wonderful island!