14.06.2015 - 17.06.2015
Our journey up to Northern Ireland from Galway took us back through Dublin, where we switched buses en route to Belfast. We got there in early evening and had a quick walk to the hostel. Dallan had started to feel sick so he stayed behind and watched movies, while I went to get a quick bite (and a beer, of course!). That night, I played poker, ping pong, and pool with other people at the hostel. This hostel was one of the most social hostels that I have stayed at, and had great facilities for people to hang out.
The next day, Dallan still wasn’t feeling great and again decided to stay in, so I headed out to explore the city by myself. I decided to create my own walking tour with the map that the hostel had provided. I started by heading to Queen's University and the Botanical Gardens, both of which were very beautiful. I was planning to go into the Ulster Museum, which is the national museum of Northern Ireland, but it was closed on Mondays. I ended up on a trek to the other side of the city, which took me through Victoria Square and past the City Hall, which is a beautiful historic government building. I then headed to the Titanic Quarter where I went into the relatively new Titanic Museum. It opened in 2012 to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the ship. The building is absolutely stunning as it is clad with silver panels and is designed to imitate the angles of the prow of the Titanic. It also kind of looks like an iceberg, and in fact that is what the locals call the building. It is located on the site of the original Harland and Wolff shipyard where both the Titanic and the Olympic ships were built. They left the Titanic's site untouched and have drawn an outline of the ship so that you can get a real feel of its size. The museum itself was great as it took you through the history of Belfast, the building of the Titanic and its failed voyage, along with the aftermath of the sinking of the ship and its discovery underwater in the 1980s. It was a great experience! After that I took the long walk back to the hostel, where I met up with some other people there who were heading out to get something to eat (and maybe a beer or two!)
Dallan started to feel better on Tuesday so we decided to go on a tour to the famous Giant's Causeway. The tour bus took us on a beautiful coastal drive, about an hour and a half in total, and we stopped at a couple of places along the way that had good photo ops. We then headed to the Bushmill’s Distillery for lunch, followed by a 45 minute tour. This tour was much different than the Jamieson's one as it not only takes you through the distilling process, but it's an active distillery and you can actually watch the process unfold. We tried a 10 year old and a 12 year old reserve after the tour and both were delicious. I considered buying my old man a bottle of the 12 year old as it is only available at the brewery, but it was really pricey and I'm poor. But it's the thought that counts right? We then went to the Giant's Causeway, which is a really sweet bunch of rock formations – there are 40.000 interlocking columns of basalt, mostly hexagonal. They are of varying heights but the top of most of them is about the size of a dinner plate, and you can walk on them like stepping stones. They were formed as the result of an ancient volcanic eruption and the site is now a Unesco World Heritage Site. It was pretty cool and I got some good photos, and then we headed back to Belfast. That night we played pool and ping pong before heading to bed.
On Wednesday afternoon, we headed to the airport for our flight to Lisbon.