A weekend visiting Northern Ireland for the first time

A weekend visiting Northern Ireland for the first time

Another country to add to my list of visited countries! Northern Ireland as in part of U.K., I still don’t know if Northern Ireland is considered as a country or part of one (U.K.).

My trip started in Cork, obviously, and my first stop was Dublin where I met a friend of mine that’s living and working there and some friends of him. First night, Friday night, party night! Again, obviously! I am getting old, but not dead! The night can be simply resumed as a blast! Expensive like hell, but this is Ireland after all…

Someone said that the world is smaller than you think, and it is! What’s the odds of going to Dublin, going to a disco in Dublin and finding some friends from Galway at that exact disco??? Or the disco is the only one in Dublin (I really hope not), or this was a huge coincidence!


Next day, Saturday internationally known as the hangover day (some might get drunk the whole weekend and use the Sunday as hangover day, that wasn’t the case with me…, this time…), we had to wake up at 9am, and after a thousand snoozes I managed to move my ass out of the bed! Breakfast, rent-a-car and get into the road!

We went directly to Belfast without stopping there, while on the road we made our plans, or draft-plans, and we decided to visit the Giant’s Causeway and the Rope Bridge and before passing in Belfast we thought about doing the Coastal Route… And we got lost trying to cross Belfast…, seriously, the traffic signage is awful! Well, just with that we lost around an hour…, so change of plans again! Directly to the Rope Bridge before it closes!

Guess what…, I was the co-pilot…, and we arrived successfully at the Giant’s Causeway…, oh wait…, the first stop was supposed to be the Rope Bridge…

A weekend visiting Northern Ireland for the first time
Visiting Northern Ireland quickly on a weekend

Regarding the Giant’s Causeway, it was one of the most fantastic things I have ever seen made by Nature! Something unbelievable! And since I am a lucky bastard, of course the weather was perfect!

We spent sometime there and then we headed to the Rope Bridge, it was on the way anyway, so my mistake wasn’t that big…, and about this…, the Rope Bridge is really great, the landscape is breath-taking and blablabla…, but unfortunately the price is quite high for “just a bridge”. We paid, and I don’t regret at all! I would go there again, and I would pay for it again! But still, quite expensive…

Then the Coastal Route until Belfast, where we spent the night on a hostel which the receptionist is Portuguese! Seriously, again?? What’s the odds of that??? Again, we got lost in Belfast…, that city suffers with a huge lack of information… As good “tugas”, we asked for directions to a guy that was on the industrial area (yeah, we got that lost) and the guy was precise as a compass! Every single detail leaded us to the hostel without a mistake! I think I never got so precise information until now and I am not kidding at all! The hostel, quite nice! 5 beds room to 4 guys! Private and cheap!

Sunday, tight schedule because the last bus from Dublin to Cork is at 6pm…, but we had time for some sightseeing in Belfast and for the worth-to-do black taxi trip (do some googling, there is no direct link to a “good” link with that information) where we saw and heard by a 60-70 years old taxi driver about “The Troubles“, quite disturbing to hear such stories how religion can be such a bitch! I truly recommend everyone to try this tour, better if the local is old enough to tell you about “the troubles” and make you feel that he was part of it, though he never said it directly nor we asked (of course).

Then leaving Northern Ireland and returning to Dublin, and mine to Cork…, a long long trip!

One question that you might ask is how hard is driving in the “wrong side of the street”…, well, I still don’t know (yet) in first hand, but what I can say is that I laugh a lot! The obvious complications are the gears and changing directions, roundabouts don’t seem that hard, it’s just following the stream and you’ll get there…, but the best part, the one I would never think about, is the safety belt! I would never guess that the driver would try to pull the safety belt from his left side…, while the belt is on the right one. He said that’s just a reaction, you have the gear in front of you, so the belt must be on your left!

Well, next stop might be my 15th country! Still counting…

By Gil Sousa

Portuguese expat in Cork, traveler and food enthusiastic.

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