Some (N.)Ireland Highlights

Whelp! Its been a week now being back in Malta, but I still find myself scrolling through the many photos and videos from the holidays. Bryan and I were extremely fortunate to meet up with various Canadians and extended family friends over the holidays, so we always felt “at home” when away from Canada. We visited parts of Saxony, Germany and Berlin.. as well as Dublin, Galway of Ireland and Belfast, Northern Ireland. It’s hard to pick out a favourite day or moment because our trip was amazing and I really wouldn’t have changed anything about it (except for the early wake up on New Years Day…). Other than the Guinness Tour, we did the Black Taxi Tour, Titanic Museum in Belfast and a day trip to the Burren National Park and Cliffs of Moher, while staying in Galway. We didn’t stretch ourselves too thin because we wanted to relax with family, walk around each town and enjoy the sites, food and drinks.  Here is little summary of some main touristy events we did do:

  1. Black Taxi Tour (Belfast, Northern Ireland)

We booked in a 1 1/2 hour tour around the conflicted parts of Belfast with Paddy Campbell’s Belfast Taxi Tour. Our driver, Danny, took us into the Protestant and Catholic areas to show us the political murals and the Peaceline dividing the local communities. The stories he told us about the annual traditions, recent attacks and past events in Belfast were eye-opening. None of us (group of 4) had any prior-exposure to this history, at least not to this scale… we were in awe. We felt completely safe the entire time, despite a recent attack happening only the week prior. Every stop, Danny would get in the back of the taxi with us to tell stories and show us photos. I would highly recommend this tour to anyone going to Belfast! It was only £10 per person, worth every pence.

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2. Titanic Museum (Belfast, Northern Ireland)

As all of us have connections to Halifax one way or another, e.g. university, friends or family… we knew we’d have to pay a visit to the Europe’s Leading Tourist Attraction of 2016. The museum took us around 2 hours to complete and it was very well laid out. The first floor takes you through the booming Belfast’s industry, then on to the shipyard, the launch, how the titanic was fitted out and the voyage. The museum was really interactive and even included a small ride through the ship yard. The realistic presentation of the sinking, aftermath and the exploration was very eye-opening. And as most of the casualties were laid to rest in Halifax it brought the message closer to home. The tour costed £17 and would highly recommend. You could spend the whole day in there if you really wanted to, so much information and interactive stations!

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3. Burren National Park and Cliffs of Moher

Last but definitely not least! After a couple nights in Belfast, Bryan and I split away from the group to have a couple days in Galway. We organized a day tour with the Galway Tour Company to see the Cliffs of Moher and along the way visited sites in the Burren National Park. We both had never done an organized tour but we thought it’d be the best option so we wouldn’t: (a) get lost and (b) could nap in the bus (Bry’s preference, of course). We set off on the tour at 10 am, which gave us plenty of time for a sleep in and a quick bite to eat in our AirB&B. Along the way to the cliffs, we made several stops to see Dunguaire Castle,  Poulnabrone Dolmen,  High Crosses of Kilfenora and a lunch stop at the Gus O’Connors pub in Doolins. The cliffs was our last stop, which was planned perfectly. We walked for an hour and a half around the Cliffs and could have gone for longer.. definitely a good place for a day trip and a picnic. The scenery was beautiful but it was also very crowded. We walked to the left when we arrived and after a 20 minute walk, there was no one around us… perfect! Entrance to the Cliffs was included in our tour price. We would recommend an organized tour to anyone, as it was really relaxing and especially this tour took us off the beaten track in the Burrens! We were the only tour company to take this 2-hour detour through the park.

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We both loved Ireland! Because of the pub culture, the hospitality, the fact that English is spoken.. we already want to go back for round two!  We experienced the Irish hospitality in Galway… such a vibrant city…. and the bus guys at the airport were also pretty nice, hey Bry?  hehe.

I would absolutely LOVE (and would die a happy, happy lady) to attend the annual Oyster and Seafood Festival in Galway. May need to organize a trip with my oyster-loving mother? To be determined…

Rachel xx

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