Part Three of Our Treacherous Ireland Holiday.
New readers should start here.
We woke up early and with our heads clear. It had really been the first full night of sleep I had since the night before Thanksgiving. And a good night’s sleep deserved a good breakfast. I had never stayed in a Bed and Breakfast before, so I really wasn’t sure what to expect. Well, in Ireland it includes the traditional Irish breakfast. A couple of fried eggs, but don’t expect a runny yoke. I didn’t get one of those until I asked for a poached egg in Dingle. Two sausages or bangers, some Irish bacon, more like a ham than the standard American bacon, a baked tomato and some blood pudding. Some plates include mushrooms and the meal we had in Bushmills included a grilled potato bread that was very tasty, but let’s get back to that blood pudding for a second. It is not really a pudding at all by American standards, it is really more like a sausage except that it is really, really gross. Now you know it must be bad if it comes from someone like me. I will eat just about anything except for lima beans or brussel sprouts. I even ate squirrel and actually liked it. But you couldn’t get me to put that black, nasty gunk past my lips again.
After breakfast we had four things we wanted to do before we hit the road again. Tour the Old Bushmills Distillery, go to Giants Causeway and the Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge, and stop at Dunluce Castle. Most of the attractions didn’t open until 10, and since we had gotten up so early, we still had an hour to go. So we decided to start with Giant’s Causeway. After a short winding ride, we arrived there around 9:30. Although the visitors center was still closed and construction was underway in several locations, we were still able to pay for parking and head out down the path to the Causeway.
The Giant’s Causeway is one of the most spectacular and unusual natural formations in the world. Where the Cliffs of Moher are majestic and stunning, Giant’s Causeway is very accessible and a more hands-on experience. The main draw of the Causeway is the strange, odd-shaped formation of the basalt columns. These volcanic structures are a scientific marvel and a mystery, but it is the legend of the Causeway that has the most appeal. As the myth tells us, the Causeway was actually created by the giant Finn MacCool to settle a dispute with an opposing giant in Scotland named Benandonner. The two giants would shout across the water at each other until one day when Finn tossed a stone into the water. Both giants continued to toss rocks at each other until a walkway was created, and Benandonner started to cross to confront MacCool. Prior to this, the two giants had never seen each other, and as Benandonner got closer, Finn suddenly realised that the other giant was much larger than he was. Fearing defeat, Finn quickly disguised himself as a baby, and when Benandonner saw the size of the infant, he turned and fled, afraid to face the giant that would spawn such a child. On his way back to Scotland, he destroyed the walkway as he retreated, leaving the Causeway in his wake.
Not realizing how accessible the Causeway was, Maureen and I spent more time than we expected wandering the rocks and following the trails along the coast. We walked out as far as the trails would let us to an edge that warned us of dangerous falling rocks, and since we took the lower trail into the Causeway we decided to take the upper trail back. Unfortunately, that first required us to ascend the half mile of old rock stairs to the top, but once up there, the view was well worth the climb. In all, we spent almost four hours walking around, taking pictures and talking with the few other people who were out on Giant’s Causeway that chilly morning, although neither of us could figure out how we hand managed to spend that much time there. It didn’t seem that long. It seemed more like just a quick walk. The true scope of how much we had walked did not hit me until I tried to sit back down in the car, and my thighs decided to scream back at me.
But my thighs were going to have to buck up. The rope bridge was still to come!