When I left for Ireland in mid-April this year, people back here mocked me for taking sunscreen. To those people I say “Ha!”
The two sunburns I can lay claim to this year were achieved in Ireland and Scotland. The first was horseback riding as I left my sunscreen in my pack back at the stables (to be fair, we started out with misty/overcast weather), and the second came about after getting lost in conversation with two couples outside a pub in Inverie, Knoydart Peninsula, Scotland. There is little joy in having the tops of your ears slightly blister – wear your sunblock people!
I arrived in Bushmills, County Antrim, Northern Ireland (or Ireland…) on Saturday, 19 April. Yup, I decided to travel to a country which doesn’t just celebrate Easter as a familial holiday, but as a bank holiday with a number of shops and restaurants being closed. I didn’t have a pub night in Doolin on Friday (the night before I headed north for Bushmills) as they were all closed for Good Friday. Lesson learned.
Luckily, my pub/hotel, Finn MacCool’s, was open and ready to receive! If you ever find yourself in Bushmills, I highly recommend booking a night with them. They were very friendly and quite informative, which came in handy the following morning after scarfing down a massive breakfast when I needed direction to the trail for Giant’s Causeway.
Walking the coast on a sunny, nearly cloudless day was beyond words. People were happy to stop and chat with the lone female backpacker trying to snap “selfies” – case and point, the nice Frenchman who took the photo at the top of this post. I have to say though, the best run-in with a local I had was with Irishman-with-a-Scots-Name (or just Irishman). He had taken a moment to stop and chat with me while I was at Port na Spaniagh (you REALLY need to read about this if you have any love of archaeology what-so-ever). We ran back into one another just as I was heading back to Bushmills: I realized then that Irishman and I were going to be friends.
We walked back to the Inn by the Visitor’s Centre to have a drink and wound up talking poetry (don’t ask how). While I don’t necessarily recommend getting in cars with strangers, I’ll never regret trusting my gut with this one! Thanks to Irishman I not only got to walk the Carrick-a-rede rope bridge, but stopped in at the smallest church in Ireland, had a great dinner in Ballintoy, and watched the most spectacular sunset in Ballintoy Harbour. A girl couldn’t have gotten luckier.
I’ll spare you the hundreds of adjectives I could use to describe the beauty of the northern coast of Ireland, and simply leave you to the photos:
Sunset at Ballintoy Harbour – thank you, Irishman!:
Next week: Dunluce Castle, Hezlett House, Armagh, and Belfast!