Belfast and Beyond

Belfast and Beyond

The Drive

As we made our way into Northern Ireland, it was odd to see the speed limit signs change from KPH to MPH. There was a sign that seemed to be a warning with some ominous emotions, as if we did not know that we weren’t in Ireland anymore. The scenery was still amazing. The drive really isn’t that long. If you plan on going to Dublin, you should try to make your way up to Belfast. Once again, we were blessed with perfect weather. We made it to the Hilton Belfast around dinner time, and got checked in. There was a little confusion with our room, so we ended up getting an upgrade to a corner room overlooking the river.

Room with a view. Looking out from our Hilton room

The Front desk staff was very helpful, and it was nice to have access to the lounge.


Night on the Town

The concierge helped us with a map and directions to the fun area of town. But a random hotel guest was actually nice enough to walk us all the way to Cathedral Quarter. This place was packed with pubs, and it seemed to have the pulse of the city. Sadly, everything seemed a little empty. As the night pressed on, we came to realize that the city comes alive after midnight. We started at the Duke of York. They had a nice selection of craft Irish beer.  But the crowd was a little old for our liking. After a couple pints, we headed over to the Harp Bar.

On the way, we stopped down an alley to see some wonderful street art. The creativity of the city was pasted all over the walls.

Street Art in Belfast

We finally made it to Harp and were ushered upstairs to a small packed room. This was apparently the waiting area for access to the live music downstairs. We were finally allowed downstairs. This place was amazing

Harp Bar Live music. This is what we were waiting for

There were groups of people mixed throughout. The drinks were tasty and the music was actually a bunch of American songs. After a while, we decided to keep moving. There was a lot of music coming from the Dirty Onion. So we popped in for a quick pint. There was a courtyard with music and a tent and bars. It was a cool venue. I think the glassware was very slippery because people couldn’t seem to hold their glasses. We met up with some cool locals and enjoyed some Craic.

Hanging with Locals at Dirty Onion

From there, we decided to check out the Spaniard as our last stop. This bar was unique… It had multiple levels. The night had come to an end, so we hopped in a cab and made our way back to the Hilton.


Sightseeing

The next morning we grabbed some breakfast, and packed it back into Becky. We were on our way to Dark Hedges. This location was made famous by Game of Thrones. It was spectacular. The arbor corridor was naturally spooky.

The Dark Hedges road… GoT style

After that we headed north to The Giant’s CausewayLiving in Khobar, the word “causeway” brings out mixed emotions of FREEDOM and TRAFFIC JAMS. But in Northern Ireland, it is a UNESCO World Heritage site. And there is so much science that happened here. It is quite marvelous. We weren’t sure how long it would take to see it all. Turns out you need about 90 minutes to take the tour and see the museum. There are some cool souvenirs as well. The area is wonderful.

Coastline at the Causeway.
Gotta get that perfect shot… Antoine approves… Maybe Usama sees something else

We had just enough time after the causeway to go grab a spot of Uisce beatha at Bushmills Distillery. I definitely recommend the full tasting experience… You will learn everything you need to know about how the whiskey is made and the history behind it, but in addition, you get to enjoy all the Bushmills varieties. Very tasty afternoon. We also learned that Bushmills is now owned by the Jose Cuervo family. Who knows… Maybe in the near future Cinco de Mayo will rival St Patrick’s on the Emerald Isle.

I love a good row of barrels.
Hanging with our whiskey teacher. Our eyes might be a little glossy

It was awesome to experience the whole collection of whiskeys. I have always viewed Bushmills in a negative light, for no real reason. But after this, my attitude has changed. It is a quality product.

After all this, we were quite hungry, so we made our way to the Harbour Bar in Portrush, as it was voted the best pint of Guinness on the whole island. That is something you just have to experience. The food was delicious. After we had apps and a pint, our table was ready downstairs, so we hit up the Harbour Bistro. The food was beyond fantastic. We ate way too much, but it was well worth it.

It was time to keep rolling. We still had a drive until our castle. The road weaved on passed some beautiful cities like Londonderry/Derry.As with many things in Northern Ireland, there is a lot of history behind the name.

We finally arrived at our castle. But that is a story for later. So come on back in a couple days and check it out. I do have a post with some more picture, here.

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