I bet the laughter invoked from this would have woken the entire floor in the hostel.
Next morning was bright and sun beamed at us though some clouds were adamant on trying to hide it. The motto I read in Belfast sightseeing service “...touch the spirit, feel the welcome” sounded very true now. We walked past some landmarks visited before reaching the designated tour starting point. The international youth hostel was up and alive with Irish music and people waiting for the tour coach. At sharp nine, Frank, our driver, after some titbits of info on the tour started for what will be a fantastic trip.
The first thing was a tall elegant looking pillar which he said was Belfast’s answer to Eiffel tower in Paris but, I personally doubt if the answer stood a chance. To make it more interactive, he threw a question at us, “Who knows Jonathan Swift?” Three of us raised our hands as if he might throw a chocolate to who knows the answer. Then we saw a mountain which when viewed from an angle looked like a huge man lying down with his facial features very well etched out by nature. “There”, he said, “That’s where our Jonathan got his idea for Gulliver’s Travels”. Maybe, it was a folk lore but a believable one. His voice was proud when he told about the other famous writers and poets from Ireland.
A short drive took us to a village Larne from where two small islands on the Irish Sea were visible with lighthouses on them, called the Maidens. Crossing the handsome village of Glenarn, coach entered Carnlough, a village where the first train station of Ireland was set up. It was sent from a bridge on top of a road and this was still kept intact and taken good care by local authorities. Further, it still has a pub cum inn called ‘Londonderry Arms’ which was owned by the family of Winston Asshole Churchill. Thereafter, passing through some extremely scenic rows of beautifully built houses, caves which used to schools or bars we were feasting our eyes on the splendid landscapes with sea kissing the shores(and of course on the chinki sitting on the next seat). We passed a farm full of small stone sculptures of all sorts of weird animal like things. “These are Lapracorns, the little magic people of Ireland. They turn into stone when photographed by someone”, boomed Frank. “Locals collect and sell it”. I had heard but now was sure, Ireland has folk lore which is not only in abundance but comical too.
‘Vanishing lake’, a normal lake, it seems, acts abnormally, when water level decreases for no particular reason whatsoever. Next stop was Bally Castle village which prides itself on being the place from where Marconi transmitted a radio signal to another island in Scotland (It was not the first cause IEEE has proved the pioneer of wireless was J.C. Bose not Marconi). Anyways, a plaque commemorates Marconi here. We also saw Rathlin island where Robert the Bruce came to hide and saw the spider on the wall, got inspired and went back to Scotland to kick some brit ass. The famous and infamous churches of Ballintoy took some time of ours.
The best part of the trip were Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge(pic 1 just above this), Dunluce castle (pic 2 just above)and of course Giant’s Causeway(pic 3 just above). Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge was taken down due to the windy weather at this part of the year. This was built by fishermen to catch go to the island right next to the mainland. A 90 feet drop, this bridge has been there for many years now. Dunluce castle provided an excellent view and am sure can be an excellent location for Bollywood songs ;). Giant’s Causeway is supposed to be the best destination in Northern Ireland. This natural rock formation can be termed loosely ‘breath-taking’. Waves lashed the shore like it had to move Ireland to some other location. The stone were laid as if a skilful mason had cut the rocks hexagonally and placed it like columns for building an artistic edifice and had left it incomplete. The loony, comical folk lore associated with Giant’s Causeway, about giant called Finn Macool made us laugh our lungs out. After a goodbye to Giant’s Causeway, the next stop was Bushmills Distillary which to our dismay was closed for visitors that day. It is the oldest licensed whisky distillery, obtaining the license in 1680.
Back in Belfast, we checked out the Harland and Wolff, where Titanic was built and set sail from. This was a good experience though the sun had switched its mains off for this part of the globe. The Titanic quarter boasted of all the things managed to be scraped and has been kept like a museum of sorts..an ode to Titanic. Then the hackney cab sped on M2 towards Belfast international airport where as usual, easyjet delayed the flight by two hours.
The memorable trip thus concluded as the world was bidding goodbye to 2005 and embracing 2006.