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Emerald Isle - Part 1

I am quite backlogged on pictures, so these are a bit out of order of our travels over the last few months, but I'm playing catchup with that so in the meanwhile...

Jackdaw at Jerpoint Abbey - my absolute favorite corvids. Love those spunky little guys so much!

The unique, amazing Giant's Causeway.

mbala and myself have been itching to travel more of Europe since we make bi-yearly trips to visit his family in the Czech Republic, but this was the first year we were able to take the extra time to hop about a bit. I was really excited that a toss of the dice took us first to Ireland and a whirlwind five day tour of the entire island.
When we flew into Dublin we picked up a tiny rental car and headed up to Northern Ireland where we were hosted by the incredibly kind and awesome _graywolf_ and her partner. (Thank you both so much, again, for your hospitality, wonderful company, and the delicious elderberry wine!).
We took a tour of Belfast, a city steeped in a controversial political history that is still very much alive today.

Belfast City Hall

Peoplewatching and ginger beer - awesome combination.

Guinness and meat pies in the pub.

Mbala and myself in front of the Europa (a building which holds the world title for the world's most bombed hotel - I believe it was hit 33 times now).

We took a black cab tour through the city and had a great guide who explained a lot about the history of the city as well as showing us Shankill road and many of the most famous murals decorating the loyalist and republican areas.

Great Famine mural on a very bloody street.
Belfast was amazing and combined with our multi-day travel lack of sleep was extremely surreal. I haven't ever traveled anywhere before with such a living history of war and conflict on that level - it was a powerful experience.

I wish we had these daily local markets everywhere!

The next morning we headed out to the north coast - we managed to inadvertently end up on our second 'most dangerous roads in the world' road (The peruvian mountain death road being the previous) - winding around on Torr Head road which was about half a lane wide hanging off the cliff on the Antrim coast.

The drive was worth it as it was absolutely beautiful and had an amazing view of the coast.

Our first stop was the Catrrick-a-rede roap bridge.

The bridge hangs about 90 feet over the water and is hand tied (and taken down) every year. It was used historically to reach the small island where prime salmon fishing was to be had - if it could be reached.

The water is so clear and beautiful! I am told you can sometimes catch a glimpse of seals fishing in the waves below.

Island off the coast.

Ireland is the land of excessive rainbows. We saw them constantly, everywhere. Double rainbows, full rainbows, rainbows coming out of peoples heads.

So many rainbows Mbala started using his polarizing filter to get them out of his photos.

Castle ruins along the coast.

Giant's causeway was absolutely gorgeous.

Every single stone is unique – I wanted to spend the whole week there getting to know every one.

Rainbow infestation.

To be continued. :)


( 20 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 3rd, 2010 01:47 am (UTC)
Very inspiring,especailly since we're planning a trip there next year. And the causeway and rope bridge are high on our to do list!
Dec. 3rd, 2010 04:09 am (UTC)
Definitely definitely hit the causeway - it's really stunning and incredibly. I love it that in Europe you can scramble all over the monuments and places and actually see/touch things without all the worry Americans have about sterilizing everything so no one gets hurt.
I really enjoyed the north coast a lot but my favorite part of the trip was the Gap of Dunloe (for state parks/nature places) - I wish we'd gotten more photos of it (it was raining and the sun was setting as we went through so we couldn't get many decent shots) - we happened upon it by accident and it was absolutely stunning. The whole southwest coast (Dingle Peninsula, Ring of Kerry, Valencia Island etc.) was somewhere we'd love to go spend a week or two exploring on its own!
Dec. 3rd, 2010 02:10 am (UTC)
Oh lord I can't wait to go back to the UK and visit Ireland! Sometime in 2011!

Arkh and I eventually plan to move over permanently, sometime hopefully in the next 10 years or so.

Dec. 3rd, 2010 04:10 am (UTC)
It seems like it would be a really neat place to live but SO expensive... I don't know how anyone can afford to live there. :> We've considered moving to Europe as well but I think I'm way too spoiled living in the U.S. that I would have quite a hard time adjusting.
Dec. 3rd, 2010 02:14 am (UTC)
Mrs. Arkh just linked this post to me; hope you don't mind. I travelled around Ireland a tonne with my folks for months at a time over many summers, but it's been a long time since I've been. Giant's Causeway is something, isn't it? :D
Dec. 3rd, 2010 04:11 am (UTC)
Don't mind at all! :) That is really neat you were able to travel there a lot - it's such a beautiful country. We only had a day in London, I'd really like to go back and explore the UK when we get the chance.
Giant's causeway was really breathtaking... just so incredibly unique!
Dec. 3rd, 2010 03:40 am (UTC)
You share such remarkable pictures with us! Very beautiful, as always. I hope someday I can travel a bit more, myself; I am rather jealous. :)
Dec. 3rd, 2010 04:03 am (UTC)
GORGEOUS photos! Thanks for sharing!!
Dec. 3rd, 2010 04:12 am (UTC)
If your car survived Torr road you did better then we did! Lovely pictures of the causeway too! I wish we had taken more photos, but tended to get gawking and forget I HAD the camera :)
Dec. 3rd, 2010 04:20 am (UTC)
Mbala did an awesome job driving - we managed to return the rental car and not get charged anything out of our deposit (which after all the goofy backroad driving we did was quite amazing) - I was sure it would be all scratched/dinged/dented from hitting so much brush and all the narrow rocky outcroppings - we really were lucky!
I know what you mean - there are a ton of things I would have loved to have had photos of that I was too busy goggling at or it was raining/misty and impossible to get a good shot.
It's too bad we missed each other - our trips were so close! I hope we get the chance to hang out some time when you're out this way or we're out yours. :)
Dec. 3rd, 2010 04:48 am (UTC)
Wow, the Giant's causeway is absolutely amazing! Great photos. :D
Dec. 3rd, 2010 07:20 am (UTC)
Scrumptions. Thanks for sharing!
Dec. 3rd, 2010 11:08 am (UTC)
Such beautiful pictures, I love reading about your trips :) Thanks for sharing!
Just as I see this post (the part above the cut), a jackdaw is sitting right in front of my window. They're the birds I see the most here, together with magpies. Gooood I love magpies!
Dec. 3rd, 2010 03:50 pm (UTC)
Wow. Gorgeuous photos. Thank you so much for sharing them with us desk-chained cyber monkeys.
Dec. 3rd, 2010 04:45 pm (UTC)
Oh man those Giant's Causeway photos are /awesome/. I've always wanted to go there!
Dec. 3rd, 2010 04:54 pm (UTC)
I've never heard of "too many rainbows" ever being a photographic problem!

Very nice pics. The Giants Causeway looks much like the basaltic columns of Devil's Postpile here in Cali.
Dec. 3rd, 2010 04:58 pm (UTC)
Those are some tenacious rainbows. How extraordinary!

What an adventure, I can't wait to see more. Traveling is something I yearn for quite often though I'm hamstrung by a few things. Reading journals like this satiates my appetite a little so I have to thank you for sharing. Kudos to your lovely insight and to Mbala for the fantastic photos.
Dec. 3rd, 2010 05:30 pm (UTC)
absolutely beautiful scenery. and the giants causeway has me totally flabbergasted!
Dec. 3rd, 2010 10:28 pm (UTC)
Too many rainbows Fox! There's too many rainbows!
Dec. 6th, 2010 07:47 am (UTC)
Buckets and buckets and buckets of them!

Looks like an enchanting trip. I like those causeway stones too!
( 20 comments — Leave a comment )