Ireland and Northern Ireland have a wonderful history that we see in the movies. The scenic splendour with magical landscape had always amazed me about the featured scenes. I was based in Leeds and finally I and my wife decided to make this trip as we were planning back to India.
Since I was working in Leeds with a post study work permit visa, there was no need of any further travel documents/visa.
How did we get there?
I wish if I could have explored the different modes of transportation as Northern Ireland is so easy to travel especially with ferry operators. However, as I had just 1 night to stay, I chose to fly to Belfast from Leeds which is just an hour flight.
Thanks to the low-cost airlines the tickets are usually quite competitive and in my case I just booked 2 weeks prior with Jet2.com which had cost $148 for both of us approx… 81 GBP. The early birds get best of the deals as it happens everywhere.
Inclusion/exclusion and my dwelling with the confusion
There is so much to see and explore that it was almost impossible to settle down with the plan. You talk about the museum, magical landscapes, pretty towns, the grand castles, and the list went on leaving me entirely confused about what to plan and what could I skip.
If that was not all my wife then came up with her internet research with another list of the monuments that glazed her eyes with the art and architecture.
So, finally, we both decided that we must get the best of the trip by prioritising the most beautiful parts such as the Giant Causeway & the Antrim Coast tour which we have learnt about from the movie and internet research.
I wanted my wife to experience the hostel accommodation which I have always found a memorable experience in the UK and hence I have settled down with the one called Global Village which is right behind the Belfast University and close to the famous Botanical garden. We booked a Private double room with the total amount of GBP 40 breakfast included.
The travel itinerary:
As a last minute call, amongst all the key destinations, we have carefully handpicked the trip of Causeway Costal Route simply because of its scenic route through the pretty villages that comprised of 9 valleys. Some of my the then British colleague rightly recommended it as one of the world’s most beautiful road trips.
Usually, the bus starts sharply at 9:30 from the Belfast city centre for the Causeway Costal trip and our scheduled arrival time at Belfast airport from Leeds was at 9 :30am. From the airport to the city centre was another 30 minutes’ drive because of which we were almost getting it difficult to get on the same day trip.
However, thanks to Allen’s Tour who came up with a solution and advised us rather head straight from the airport to Carrickfergus Castle which was the first stop of the bus, and we can’t thank them enough to save our day which turned out a great trip altogether.
So, we started from Carrickfergus castle through the Antrim coast road and after 1h 20 minutes the next stop was Bushmills whiskey distillery which is known as the oldest working distillery in Ireland. The internal setup had a feel of 1608 decorations around the bar.
The memory is still very fresh especially the opportunity of having tutored tastings in the 1608 bar.
Time for tasting- “Steamship Collection”- Cheers!!!
I must say this sample tasting was a life saver as it was so windy and rainy on that particular day. Soon after that, we pulled over at a nearby farm to feast on local fish and fries which another surprising treat.
Returning through the beautiful Causeway coastal route was such a special moment which made the entire trip very romantic. I have never had a beautiful rainy day like that particular day before, and the bus passed through the zig-zag routes through the villages and the Glens of Antrim. Lucky are the residents of this dreamland.
Finally, at 5 pm we were back in Belfast in our accommodation.
Day 2- Local Excursions
So, our flight back to Leeds was at 4 pm which was enough for us to cover up the key destinations. As we were staying near the botanical garden, we started from there at 9 am.
Soon after covering the botanical garden, I got a taxi from the city centre to cover up 3 -4 main destinations. Although the option of Hop on -Hop off could have been more enjoyable and economical, however, looking at the time constraint we skipped that idea.
Fortunately, our taxi driver was a very friendly chap who had taken us to the streets of Shankill & the Falls Road area with his advice in various stops about what to know about that place, the significance from historical perspective etc. Do read about Shankill & Falls Road area to get the background about the murals. I am sure you will be touched by the both sides of the story.
I am glad that I had the opportunity to learn about the area of notorious political history. As you read the writing on the both sides of the wall you will get a sense of sentiments of both the communities the unionists and the nationalists.
Now the time was to move on and to experience the Belfast’s most famous creation the world’s largest Titanic visitor experience.
This is the spot from where the Titanic was designed. It took around 2.5 hours to complete the tour which was extended over nine interactive galleries with the fascinating stories of the shipyards while it was in the process of making.
full-scale reconstructions and innovative interactive features.
So this was all about the trip. My learning from this trip is that all you need for a memorable trip is not enough money, enough time but you certainly need a lot of enthusiasm to explore as much as you can.
What we have got from Belfast trip was a natural beauty, relaxation, scenic drives, authentic pub experience, key attractions, genealogy, fine dining and an unforgettable experience of staying in one of the best hostels.