First week of November is a school holiday for the kids giving us a week off from school to do something. Bummer, I filled out some tax paper work incorrectly and the pay checks have been encumbered with emergency Irish taxes to the tune of a bit over 60%. Small checks and the new to us concept of a house payment equates to moneys being tight. Tight money lead us to putting off booking travel for the week until the last-minute.
First on our list for the week was a trip to Glasgow Scotland. Sadly, by the time we went to book flights they were a bit nuts cost wise. Next two options on the list were a ferry and train ride to London or a train ride to Belfast. The kids voted for Belfast and the Giants causeway. Which has been on their list to see for a while. The causeway is a long day trip from Dublin, or it’s a short hop from Belfast. Belfast also has some great art and history tours, some old buildings, and the titanic museum.
To prepare the kids for the trip we read some stuff, watched some Rick Steve’s and YouTube travel videos. Then we started watching the Titanic the movie. We’re a bit over two hours in as of last night (the day before we left on the trip) and the boat has finally hit the iceberg. They now know it’s going to sink no matter what. We’ll finish it tonight in the hotel on the surface then visit the museum tomorrow.
Our plan was to take the train from Dublin to Belfast. A labor strike canceled those plans along with all of the rail trips around Dublin for the day. Back up plan was to take a bus. Michelle had issues booking with eir bus, so I booked without telling her. While I was booking she booked us on aircoach. Neat, we now have 12 none refundable seats to Belfast and we only need 6. Luckily eir bus let me change directions on my booking. Now we have bus seats booked both directions.
Maddex crawled into bed with us a bit after 5am, followed shortly after by Mila and Khaleesi; joy. We were up, packed, dressed, fed, bathroomed and out the door half six headed for the LUAS. Took the LUAS to Stephens green, walked to O’Connell street, found the bus stop, left the bus stop and walked to Tesco for snacks, walked back to the bus stop to wait. Eventually we made it on to the bus and were on our way by about 0835.
On the walk up Grafton street from the LUAS stop we noticed a number of shops are already decorating for Xmas. The windows are fully kitted out with lights and displays and snow and everything; Halloween was just last night, and it is gone replaced with Santa. Speaking of Halloween, Halloween is celebrated a bit differently here. We did costumes and had trick or treaters like normal. What happens after that is the different. the locals huddled in a field around a massive bon fire of trees and pallets and launched fire works. Reminded me the fourth of the July sounds of freedom from back home.
Made it to Belfast
We made it to Belfast a few hours later, early afternoon. From the bus depot we walked for about 30 minutes untill we found our serviced apartment. Instead of a hotel room Michelle booked us a one bedroom apartment with a kitchen. The apartment ended up costing less than a hotel room and came with way more space. Check in for the apartment was around 3, but all of our codes worked, and the room was setup and clean, so we figured we were fine to move in a few hours early. From the apartment we went out to a Tesco to pickup some food. On the way to Tesco we stopped into a few charity shops. In one of the shops the girls bought fancy hair bands. I’d not bought any pounds yet and the head bits were only 70p. The shop keeper let us just take them. At the Tesco we bought food and money, and we stopped back by and gave the shop a pound for the hair bits.
After the shopping we went back to apartment and were told multiple times check in was not till 3 by a cleaner we ran into in the hallway. I asked if we needed to leave and was told check in was not until 3. Ok? So. That’s not helpful to me what do you want ? the codes worked room is clean so here we are. Again told check in is not until 3. I said thanks and we went back to our room and took a nap. After the nap we went out and walked around the botanical gardens and queens college. Great day one.
Day two – Titanic
Given the option of the causeway or Titanic museum for day two, the kids elected the museum. Maddex was up at 430, the rest of the clan was up around 6. We had pancakes, cereal and fruit for breakfast then took off to book a bus and museum tour.
The museum was brilliant. It started off explaining the history of Belfast from the town being founded, to becoming a textile and rope town, to cover building ships on to the construction of the Titanic. Then we moved to views of the inside of the boat, on to the sinking of the boat and covered the after math.
After the inside tour we went outside and walked the area where the boat was physically built. In the birth is a light up outline of the ship. We walked the boat from end of end. Then back across the river on a nice walking bridge to make out with a fish. After the fish we found all of the roads without cars on them and the shops (outdoor mall like area). where walked about then had lunch. Back to apartment, a nap , then a walk to book the tour for tomorrow.
Day three – Giants Causeway
Maddex woke up 0400 this morning and I made him go back to sleep. At about 520 we woke up and started watching Voltron. We somehow missed the third season and the fourth just came out. We have some catching up to do. After the first episode concluded Mila woke up screaming about her belly hurting. Took her the washroom and she vomited a few times. Vomiting is a such huge massive dramatic event for Mila, poor girl had a fever to boot – mom Khaleesi Mila and Roxi are going to stay behind at home while Maddex and I carry on to the causeway tour.
The tour was about 100 pounds and it’s none refundable. Maddex sweet talked the gals at the tourist office and they agreed to gave us a credit for the girls tickets we can use another time. Better than being completely out the money for a sick kid. Maddex and I were the second couple on the bus and waited about 15 minutes before we set off for our first destination. First stop a 300 year old rope bridge a few hundred feet in the air. Maddex crossed no problem other than the requests to me to stop jumping up and down. Of course I was not jumping ….
After the rope bridge we had a quick stop to take some pictures of a castle then on to another stop at the bush mills distillery. Which is actually in the town of bush mills on the bush river; did not know that. Learn something new all the time. Maddex and I toured the distillery a bit then hit their restaurant where we had stew and fish and chips for lunch.
About five minutes from bush mills we finally made it giants causeway. Took a bit time to work how to the walk to the causeway. The bus drive gave us directions but they were not super clear. The tourist center signs all want you to go in the tourist office where you have to pay 10$ even to enter the gift shop. The rub of that is you don’t have to pay at all to see the causeway. You simply walk around the tourist office and there is the walk down to the causeway. We skipped the tourist center and walked right to the funny shaped rocks.
Maddex enjoys visiting the beach and running around on rocks. The causeway has both sandy beach and rocks to run around. We spent a good hour jumping around the rocks before heading back to the bus for a few hour ride back to Belfast. Along the way back we stopped off to see another castle, have a bathroom break, and see some GOT sights
While we were out on the rocks Mila took some drugs and felt ok enough to go out for a bit. Michelle took the girls out on the hop on and hop off bus and rode around the city listening to the guided tour. Glad they managed to get out of the house. Michelle enjoyed the tour and the history. After the bus ride she took the girls to get a froze pizza at the centra. There was one slice left when Maddex and I made it home. For some reason the bus dropped of us in a different place than where it picked us up. Took us a bit to get the lay of the land and workout how to walk back to our apartment
Maddex made it sleeping in untill about 5 this morning. The other girls made it untill about 6. No screaming and vomiting or fevers, so great morning. We had breakfast and packed up to be out the door around 7:30 headed to the tourist office to drop off our luggage then walk around the city one last time. Our destination is Georges Market where we walked about and looked at things. We picked up one resin unicorn for Khaleesi and resisted buying anything else. Before heading back to the Bus depot we stopped for some food, and picked up our luggage. – the eirbus stopped at the airport vs the aircoach on the way that was a direct route. They both cost the same, we’ll have to remember this when we go back
The rest of the pictures