Friday, May 4, 2018
(Sorry this is so late in coming. We have been without wifi (horrors) for a couple of days…)
We are up early today since we want to hit up the Friday Market before securing our rental car and leaving Belfast. It appears to be a really nice day outside and the walk to the Market is nice. Rich already knows his way around town – a comforting fact for me indeed.St. George’s Market “was built between 1890 and 1896 and is one of the best markets in the UK and Ireland.” It is booming this morning with vendors selling fish, meat, vegetables, baked goods and various sundries. We love hitting up great markets like this one and I always wish we had something like this at home.There are lots of stalls selling Baps and other meaty breakfast items.
We spy a restaurant with a perch above the market and decide that would be a great place to people watch while enjoying an Irish breakfast. George’s of the Market is situated perfectly to take advantage of the fresh ingredients available down below. We both order the same(!) dish – poached eggs with spinach on wheaten bread (mine without hollandaise).
Breakfast is devoured while enjoying watching the dude making a HUGE pan of paella directly below us. Reminds us of being in London watching a paella maker tussle with a nasty pigeon… (That story is HERE. Scroll down about halfway through the post.
Back to our apartment to gather our things, call a taxi and go back to the City Airport to pick up our rental car. All super easy. In fact, the car rental agent (at Enterprise) was one of the nicest agents we have ever met.We are both have a little trepidation with the idea of driving here. Rich more than me since he will be the one driving. I have secured an automatic vehicle (rare to find) to hopefully take away some of the nerves. (Readers may recall an incident with our previous rental of a stick shift in Scotland. If not, you may wish to refresh your memory HERE.)
I am getting nervous myself thinking about my role as navigator. Most of you know that I can barely find my way out of a paper bag. I am armed with many, many offline maps on my phone. When we get into our Kia – Sweet Relief! This car has a nav system! And a GREAT one! You know. Most navs are pieces of crap that can be cryptic and really hard to use. This one is a touch screen and extremely use friendly. You can even change destinations while on the fly. SWEET!Away we go!We will be driving the Coastal Highway today, just meandering our way up to Ballycastle.
Rich gets the hang of driving on the left in no time (even though he claims it “hurts his head”) and I am perfectly happy leaving the navigation to the device. Our route takes us through some gorgeous countryside while hugging the coastline all the way up. We can even see part of Scotland over the sea.
A stop is made at Torr Head after winding our way up a very narrow passage that would thrill any roller coaster lover. We maneuver the steep hike up to the top and are rewarded with views to die for.
Just a short motor onward and we arrive in Ballycastle – our destination for the next couple of nights. As we enter town we can see the Ballycastle Golf Course where we will be playing tomorrow. Looks wicked.
Our blessed navigation leads us directly to our B&B, but since the day is so lovely (and it could be fleeting) we determine that we should travel another 20 minutes westward and hit up the Giant’s Causeway. It is approaching 4:00pm and I am thinking that most of the crowds will be gone. Should be good timing.
Thanks to my research, I am wise about how and where to park for the Giant’s Causeway. It seems as the National Trust has built a huge Visitor’s Center and if you park OR avail yourself of any of the services (bathrooms etc) OR even step foot into the centre then you will pay dearly. The tarrif is set at an unreasonable 11.50GBP per person. We don’t mind putting $ into the country, but this is pretty ridiculous. The talk online is that residents are highly upset at this. The actual “attraction” is free to enter.
Those in the know (like us) choose to park across the road at the Nook Pub. One simply has a bite to eat or a pint (like us) and leaves their car parked whilst visiting the Giant’s Causeway. We try it and cross our fingers that it works.
This place is absolutely magical, especially at this sunset-ish time of day. After a relatively long hike down (I am already considering that we will have to go back UP), we are rewarded with gorgeous views and stretches of otherworldly basalt columns that are carved out of the land. Reminds us immediately of the Black Beach in Iceland. You can read about that HERE.
The long hike back up is manageable and we are delighted to note the “naive” tourists who are exiting through the Visitor’s Centre. Poor sots. Our car is safe and sound back at the Nook. Yay!
Rich expertly drives us directly back to J&J Guesthouse where we are greeted by Joe – one of the owners. He shows us to our upstairs room. When we bring in our bags he notes the small backpack and the HUGE red suitcase. He looks at me “That one must be yours…” I tell him “Yes. That one is for my shoes!”
The recommendation for dinner is to hoof it down to the Anzac Bar in order to catch the Early Bird Special (stops at 7). It is almost 6:30 and we are starving so we agree. Since Joe is going into town anyway, he gives us a lift.
The Anzac doesn’t look like much from the outside, but it is actually very nice inside. Turns out the Early Bird is order any main and receive a free starter, side and dessert. Ok. We both order Potato/Leek Soup, Steak and fries.
Now here’s the thing. On the menu there are “Chips: Chunky or Skinny.” Then there are “Fries: Parm/garlic, Chili, Salt/Vinegar, etc.” There are also a variety of “sauces” which we have no idea what they are for. I ask our server what is the difference between “chips” and “fries?” She gives me some kind of answer that tells me absolutely nothing. I know enough to realize that UK “Chips” are American “Fries.” UK “Crisps” are American “potato chips.” But I have no idea what UK “Fries” are…
Anyway we both order some variety of fries and a couple of sauces.
The soup is great, the steaks are good and the fries/sauce are really good. The only problem is that I have really hit the wall and am dead tired. Very sleepy. I think jet lag has finally caught up. We really don’t want dessert, but end up ordering one brownie to split. It takes forever to arrive and I am about to put my head down on the table. When the dessert finally shows up we make a meager attempt at it and then ask for our check.
The walk back to our B&B (15 minutes) seems like an eternity. This has been a seriously long (but fantastic!) day. I hit my pillow and am out within the minute.