Sunday, March 16, 2014

Dream Vacation - Day 2

So we got to the Dublin airport and had to go through their customs. It was fairly easy and I finally got a stamp in my passport. We picked up our luggage and made our way out to find my buddy Thomas waiting for us.

We loaded up his car and made the 2 hour trek north to Belfast (or just outside Belfast where Thomas lives). We stopped by a McDonalds to pick up some breakfast. I also found out that they use "chip & pin" with their credit cards and I don't have a pin for my card as we don't use that system here in the US. So I had to pay with my debt card which of course accrued a ton of fees so this 11 pound breakfast turned into a 25 dollar crazy expensive breakfast.

Anyways we made our way to Thomas' place and crashed for a few hours. I didn't want to sleep as I was hoping to stay up all day so I wouldn't be hit so hard from the jet lag. I did take a shower/bath at Thomas and that helped a bit but I was already very tired.

We wanted to take advantage of every minute of our trip so after we rested for a bit we went sight seeing. Our first stop was Carrickfergus Castle. Carrickfergus Castle is a Norman castle in Northern Ireland, situated in the town of Carrickfergus in County Antrim, on the northern shore of Belfast Lough. Besieged in turn by the Scots, Irish, English and French, the castle played an important military role until 1928 and remains one of the best preserved medieval structures in Ireland. This would be the first of many castle that I'd get to see in my travels.

Next was Knockagh Monument, which is a war memorial in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. It is located on top of Knockagh Hill, above the village of Greenisland with a panoramic view of the city of Belfast.


The monument is cool looking but the views are amazing. Even with the grey cloudy skies the views were still incredible...

We then drove up to Belfast Castle, The original Belfast Castle, built in the late 12th century by the Normans, was located in the town itself, flanked by the modern day High Street, Castle Place and Donegall Place in what is now Belfast city centre. It was burned down in 1708, leaving only street names to mark the site. Rather than rebuild on the original site, the Chichesters decided to build a new residence in the city's suburbs, today's Belfast Castle emerging as a result. The building that stands today was built from 1811–70 by the 3rd Marquess of Donegall. The castle boasts an antiques shop, a restaurant and visitors centre and it is a popular venue for conferences, private dining and wedding receptions.

My favorite part of the castle are the stairs on the outside, which were a gift from another country (I can't recall which country at the moment).

After Belfast Castle we headed down to city centre where they were celebrating St. Patrick's Day (a day early). There was a parade and a concert. By the time we got down there and parked the parade was over (we caught the tail end of it) but we did get to enjoy some of the traditional Irish music at the concert.

We walked around the city for a bit, I loved all the old churches and cathedrals. We met up with Thomas' sister Stephanie as she lives down in Belfast. We got to see City Hall and St. Anne Cathedral, both are beautiful. We walked across the river and headed to the Titanic exhibit. I did not know this but Titanic was built in Belfast.

Afterwards we said goodbye to Stephanie and headed back to Thomas', we picked up some pizza for dinner before calling it a night. Tomorrow we begin our long five day road trip around the coasts of Ireland.

And after 34 hours of being awake I was finally able to sleep.. Tomorrow we drive to Dublin for St. Patrick's Day... gonna be fun.

1 comment:

  1. Visiting actual castles over there was one of my favorite parts of the experience. You can practically feel the history in the stone. (Though I suppose that doesn't apply in this case since the original burned down, but...) :)