Tuesday, July 11, 2006

North Ireland (Friday)

Today was our most event filled day. We had a full Irish Breakfast which included Bacon, Eggs, Potatoe Bread, sausage, has browns and something called “black pudding”. I don’t know what it was, and I don’t want to know till I get back. All I know is that it was black with whitish things in it, it was mushy and about the size of a hockey puck, and tasted like liver…

Our B&B had an amazing location, we woke to a panoramic view of the ocean and sea cliffs. At the end of the driveway was a cliff about 300’ above the sea. Attached to the cliff was a small island peninsula, and on top of that were the ruins of an old castle. We explored that for a while then went on the see the “carrick-a-reed” rope bridge. This rope bridge was built by fishermen in the 1600’s to allow access to an island for fishing salmon. The bridge dangles above the crashing waves below. Totally fun.

Our next stop was the “Giant’s Causeway”, a weird geologic formation of hexagonal columns of rock about 2’ in diameter that vary from about 1’ to 6’ tall and form a jetty that leads out into the ocean. Hard to believe, too weird to describe.

We had lunch in an old 1-room schoolhouse converted into a pub. I had “Steak and Guiness Pie” and Siobhan had her favorite: “Cheese and onion toasty”

That afternoon we went to castle Dunlace. It too was built out on a rock in the ocean, but this one was a massive, and was connected by a bridge to the main land that (back in the cay) was a drawbridge that could be raised to ward off attackers. It also had several large cannons (salvaged from a nearby shipwreck) pointed at the bridge so if any invading army tried to set up their own bridge, it would be blown to bits. This castle was in partial ruin, but it started in the 1700’s when on stormy night part of the rock island gave way and took the backside of the castle with it, including the kitchen and several of the servants.

After that we stopped by the city of Derry to visit the old walled city center. North Ireland in general is more economically depressed than Southern Ireland, but it shows most in the urban areas. There was lots of graffiti, but it was mostly political. I also saw several building sized murals that had political themes. Before leaving Derry, we stopped at a mall and bought some socks and underwear. (I was beginning to run out…)

That evening we drove to Ennikskillen. On the way there we passed a fish and chips place that had a packed parking lot – a good sign. It was to go only, so we took our dinner to the next town and hand an impromptu picnic on a riverbank next to a stone bridge from the 1600’s (common)

When we got to our B&B, the owners let us use their computer to update the blog. When I asked if they knew what a blog was (they were old…) they said yes, they were following their son’s blog as he climbed Mount Everest.

What?!? Yes, he is climbing Everest and they are using sat phones to update their blog to raise funds for cancer research. Whatever ego my blog once had…