Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Holiday in Ireland – Day 3

Up at 7, as it’s pay-day and I wanted to square the money before we went out today.

It’s the great trek northwards today, hopefully to include a  scenic route offered by Peter at The Cuan last night. We’re planning to visit The Giant’s Causeway. As things turned out though, it was a day of surprises!

9.35am: We got off to a good start – the roads were pretty quiet and the weather was good. As soon as we got close to Belfast, our problems began. The Police had sealed off the A12 – our main route northwards. No explanation, but it was obviously pretty serious (armed cops, rambo style Land-Rovers etc.) because whatever alternative route we wanted to divert on was jammed with traffic and pretty chaotic.

After some nifty navigating, we managed to get back on track and pick up the motorway again – phew! They get palpitations over a dual carriageway in the Province, so a motorway is big news – think of London before the M25 and you get the picture.

High Street - Balleymoney12.15pm: It had been a long drive, so we stopped off in Ballymoney. A busy place, but apart from Tesco’s (just like a rat, you are never more than three-feet away from one of them) where we picked up some essentials. We popped into a coffee shop that was almost deserted – nice and quiet...perfect! But that soon changed, when a gazillion school-sprogs turned up and filled the place. I don’t recall having cappuccinos with my Blackberry when I was at grammar school. We were the OAPs in the coffee shop, so time for a swift exit!!!

1.35pm: We finally arrived at our destination as members of the Nanny trust, we got in free -  oh the power of that little green card . As expected, the place was packed. We luckily found a place to park quite quickly and headed down to the Causeway requiring a brisk ten-minute downhill walk. On arriving, the whole place was covered in people and that made it hard to really appreciate it as a whole. In fact, having seen some of the aerial shots, seeing it for real, was a bit of a let-down. Shame, but we took the gentle route back up the hill on the Nanny Trust OAP bus, complete with the Senior Ranger telling jokes and having us all in stitches. We treated ourselves in ye olde Tea-shop to a slab of cake and a gallon of tea before heading off to Ballycastle and taking the scenic route along the coast!

Scenes of the Giant's Causeway - 1 Scenes of the Giant's Causeway - 2
Scenes of the Giant's Causeway - 3 Scenes of the Giant's Causeway - 4

Our Hire car - Ford Mondeo - replacing the BMW3.15pm: It was on the way back to Strangford, that the day took a surprising turn. Firstly, the oil light came on on the hire car...but then went off. We covered another 20-or-so miles, then the gearbox light came on – and stayed on!!! We decided to divert back to the Belfast City Airport and ‘have a chat’ with the Hertz man. After some unusually poor Irish customer service, they agreed to change the  car – and we ended up with a gold coloured Mondeo automatic. We headed back to the apartment arriving just after 6.30. 

6.40pm: After quick ‘wash-and-brush-up’ we headed to The Cuan for our evening meal. We reflected on our day. We think we’ve driven over 200 miles today to see a load of old rocks and we didn’t get a chance to see Peter’s scenic route either!!