Ireland was great: everyone was as friendly and helpful as an old mate, food all fresh, even the weather was good. Although dark at 4pm as expected this time of year.
Highlight has to be the Giants Causeway – very dramatic with giant waves and glistening light. Almost looks manmade with most rocks hexagonal, but down to millions of year’s waves and weather.
Carrick-a-Rede Bridge was worth a visit – but even this time of year on a Monday, had to queue a short while. Donaghadee is a beautiful coastal village 19-miles from Belfast with one of Ireland’s oldest pubs. Pier36 Hotel there was our best room – especially after a free upgrade. Picture below shows the harbour.
Dublin is very European – cosmopolitan with Eastern Europeans and coffee everywhere. A pint in the trendy Temple Bar area costs €7, worth it, but most Irish bars only charge €5. And of course the Republic’s been Euros and kilometres since 2002. Fantastic modern train there from Belfast.
Co Donegal was too quiet this time of year, better to visit when the days are longer. Great log-fire pubs, but many attractions closed like the castle in Glenveagh National Park. Roads a little bumpy.
1. Thursday 29th Dec: Taxi to airport at 5.30am for EasyJet 181 leaves Luton 7.00am. Arrives Belfast 8.15am
2. Catch Express 300 bus to last stop and collect car from Enterprise Rent-a-Car at 157 Cromac Street, Belfast, BT2 8JE (tel: 028 9031 6151).
3. Drive to Carrick-a-Rede Bridge BT54 6LS (last entry at 14.45pm), Giants Causeway – BT57 8SU & Ballycastle for Kinbane Castle.
4. Stay at Ashlea House B&B, 52 Mark Street, Portrush, BT56 8BU (tel: 07740872810),
5. Friday 30th: Mussenden Temple, Londonderry, then Glenveagh National Park Centre, Letterkenny, Co Donegal – and onto Careys Viking House B&B, Kincasslough (tel: 0749543295). From Portrush only 2 1/2-hours / 94-miles direct.
6. Sat 31st: Drive along N56 into very-scenic Glengesh Pass to Seawinds B&B, Main Street, Killybegs (booked) – large fishing village. From Viking only 1-hour / 54-miles.
7. Sun 1st Jan: Visit Donegal, then to B&B pub Pier36 at coastal village of Donaghadee, BT21 0HE (£50 paid – £20 bal due) – From Donegal 2 3/4-hours / 129-miles on M1.
8. Mon 2nd: Return car, then 10-mins walk towards river to collect train ticket at noon in Belfast Central Rail Station for 12.35pm (arrives 14.40pm) train to Dublin. Stay Travel Lodge, Lower Mercer Street, Dublin. Book a tour round Guinness Store House online €16 – very good, but not the actual brewery next door (closed to the public).
9. Tue 3rd Jan: Catch 18.50pm Train back to Belfast and stay Belfast Central Travelodge, Brunswick Street, BT2 7GE. Afternoon around the excellent Titanic Exhibition where they show dramatic real footage of the ship, now 2 1/2-miles beneath the waves.
10. Wed 4th Jan: EasyJet 188 leaves 20.10 to Luton.
Return flight: £62
B&Bs: £50 to £70
Travelodge: £40 Belfast, £70 Dublin
Enterprise Car hire for 4-days – £89 + £20 extra for Republic
Train Belfast to Dublin: £27.50 return each – booked online
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