We flew into Dublin and spent three days in the city. The highlight of Dublin was not Temple Bar. Yes, it would be awesome if you are 19 and want to drink your face off all day, but I’m old and feeble and cannot keep up with that crew. Nonetheless, if you are in the city, you would be remiss not to at least stop by that area of the city and have a pint of Guinness.
By far, the highlight of Dublin was the Notre Dame v. Navy football game at Aviva Stadium. Aviva was an awesome stadium, very comfortable and we had amazing seats.
See how close we are to the field?
I was doubly impressed with the fact that each concession stand in Aviva was staffed with about 7 people whose sole job was to pour pints of Guinness and have them ready for customers. High marks for the Irish in this area.
Even though I am a diehard Michigan State fan and relish every time Notre Dame loses at anything, I still had fun at the game. It was a beautiful day, Navy played the Top Gun theme song while walking into the stadium, and it was the officially the start of college football season- what’s not to like?!
After Dublin, we drove north to the Glens of Antrim and stayed at a cute bed and breakfast in Cushendall. This was by far the most beautiful area in all of Ireland. We walked to the beach and the water was bright blue and crystal clear, almost like the Caribbean. I had not expected that so far north.
A note for future travelers, the Glens of Antrim is in Northern Ireland, which is part of Britain. If you are self driving, there is no sign that notes you have crossed into new territory! Embarrassingly, we found this out when trying to pay for snacks at a fuel station with Euro- the clerk (clearly annoyed) informed us we needed Pounds for that. Oops…
After leaving Cushendall, we took a scenic route along Torr Head drive. This follows the coast and it is just breathtaking. The cliffs, the greenery, the sheer narrowness of the road- all breathtaking.
Following this scenic route will lead you to Giants Causeway, Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge and the Bushmills Distillery- all of which we visited.
The Causeway is a natural rock formation that looks like cobblestones were perfectly laid down to form of bridge leading into the ocean. There is a matching set of stones across the water coming up in Scotland.
Carrick-a-Rede was a lot of fun, it is a swinging rope bridge connecting the mainland to some little islands. Fisherman used to use it for catching salmon. Don’t let this picture fool you, it is very high up!
Last stop of the day was the Bushmills whiskey distillery. We had a guided tour of the factory and got a free glass of the reserve of our choice at the end. I had the 10 year reserve, I’m not a whiskey fan so really, I have nothing intelligent to say about the taste! My husband is a total whiskey snob and was starry-eyed the whole time we were having the tour. He bought a personalized bottle of the 12 year distillery reserve, which is only available at the factory. Bliss!
Overall, Northern Ireland was absolutely lovely and there was a lot to do in the great outdoors. We headed out from here to north west Ireland, our eyes set on Donegal. Stay tuned for part 2.