Sunday, April 24, 2011

VoM2: Northern Ireland

I wrapped up my tour of Ireland’s west coast by catching the last train back to Dublin on Friday night. After a very short night in town, I caught the earliest train north to Belfast, Northern Ireland — back in the UK! — yesterday morning, then immediately got on a bus going further north along the Antrim Coast. It was a pretty fast-paced, rigorous haul, but I’m really glad I did it.

The drive up through “The Glens” was simply stunning, one of the most beautiful areas I’ve ever seen. It is at least on par with the the coasts of Cornwall and Wales that I’ve recently visited, and even rivals my beloved Scotland! It is also an area that has immediately shot to the top of my “gotta come back here and spend some quality time” list.

Two highlights of the day were an astonishing geologic formation on the north coast called “The Giant’s Causeway” and an area famous for its salmon fishing and limestone quarry called “Carrick-A-Rede.” I could have sat on the bluffs all day, just looking out at the North Atlantic and watching the waves crash on the rugged shores. A coastal walk would be fantastic!

Considering how beautiful Northern Ireland is, I’m a bit surprised that it isn’t as heavily developed for tourism as it could be. My guess is that its history of conflict has hindered both its development and its reputation in the tourism industry. The recent peace process seems to be working and the general sense I get is that “things are continuing to get better.” I certainly hope so for the sake of the people here, but I also hope it doesn’t get too touristy before I come back!

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