Friday, 6 December 2013

Ireland Then Home

 Signs of Scotland:


An interesting note: the most northern part of the island is in Southern Ireland.
We bid a sad farewell to Scotland; an hour and a half later we were in Larne, Ireland.

I was duly impressed with the huge crown at the Larne roundabout 


Skulling on a calm sea

Instead of immediately going north I suggested we have a look at Carrickfergus. I had been there in the 90's and thought it worth a stop at the castle but when arrived there was an Armed Forces Day parade and festivities; so nowhere to park as the place was mobbed.

  Note the palm trees on the right side of the photo!

The plan was to drive north and find a campsite then visit the Giant's Causeway the next day but since it had stopped raining we continued on. The sky was grey but no precipitation.

Yellow Clover - I had never seen that before.

We bought our tickets at the information center then walked down hill.

The Giant's Causeway is an area of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, the result of an ancient volcanic eruption. It is located in County Antrim on the northeast coast of Northern Ireland, about three miles northeast of the town of Bushmills. Wikipedia

I was so impressed by the sheer size of the area and the extent of the rock formations.  Brian's reaction: It's just a bunch of rocks! We paid to see a bunch of rocks?  Yes darlin', we did. 

For years I had thought about the moment I would stand on the promontory and look out to the expanse of the sea, but my mind's eye had not included bad weather.  I didn't quite make it; I was part way there when the weather suddenly changed to a mini storm of blowing rain. What a laugh I had scrambling on the slippery rocks peaking out from under my rain hood looking for shelter!
We caught the bus up to the parking lot.
Parking lot at the Causeway

I like this photo for its balance - the windows, the matching blues and whites plus the RV looks as if it has acquired a chimney. LOL.

We had the fortune of staying at a well run campground in Portrush. 

It was a lovely spot directly across from the ocean and a restaurant named The Tides where we had one of the best meals of our trip. We shared Moules (mussels) in a white wine sauce and crusty bread; then Maryland Chicken - breaded chicken fillet, banana and pineapple fritters, grilled bacon, tomato and a choice of sauce (I know this because I just looked it up) served in a stack. Excellent. 

Somewhere that day we crossed into Southern Ireland. We only became aware when the signs changed from British £'s to €uros and we were back to speed limits in KPH.

We entered County Donegal and would have loved to have stopped in Donegal town but the weather turned atrocious

I had to snap photos as we passed through.

You would think beer and whisky would be the most advertised drinks.

Traffic Signs. 
English, French, German and Gaelic. We saw Traffic Calming signs in Scotland too. It is an area that slows the traffic down but we found it an 'unusual' term.
             Country Leitrim: Waterfall Project

Galway was a delight. We parked in a downtown church lot and walked the sunny streets. Brian still had not had a haircut and even though it was Monday (traditionally the day hairdressers/barbers world wide are closed) "Skinny Billy", a Turkish barber was open.

He was such an interesting fellow. He mentioned we were fortunate to be there then and not at the end of July when the Gallway Races (horses) are held for 7 days and the city is crazy with people but that it brings great wealth to the city.

He used a taper to flame burn stray hairs - scared me I can tell you!

Onward south to:

How quaint! The Irish love horses.

As you may have noticed we enjoy spending our nights in rural campsites and particularly ones with waterfront. We lucked into this one - Lakeside Holiday Park on Lough Derg and what a beautiful spot it was.

There was one other RV down at the lough and it was the same make as ours, McLouis (they are not that common). Their license plate was Irish but they were German, ours was french but we were, well, us. At the point in the evening as the sun was setting the man stepped out of his as I stepped out of ours and we each held up our cameras and smiled.

That night as we were planning our route for the next day we noticed that Killaloe was not too far away. We have a friend, Pat, who lives in Killaloe, Ontario so we just had to have a peek. It is a scenic and well kept town with a marina on river Shannon.

 From there was NOT a long way to:

 Off to Waterford where the crystal is sold. As of 2009 it is manufactured in  eastern Europe. I was not very impressed by their store even though it was sparkly and new looking.

We didn't spend too long there as it was our last day and we had to catch the ferry in Rosslare. Following our route I was completely surprised and Brian completely teed off that the road ended and we had to take a ferry to the other side of
the River Barrow. Fortunately they run all the time and we quickly were on the other side.

 At Rosslare:

 We said goodbye to Ireland.

Boarded the OscarWilde.

Put Angus in his cage.
  What a sad face. Awww - I didn't want to leave him there all alone.   :'( 

  School was out for summer holidays that week and hundreds of kids ranging from toddlers to teenagers were on board. It was interesting to note that the families mainly consisted of three children, but then again Ireland is a Catholic country and still promotes larger families. It was usually the Dads who took care of entertaining the little ones and the majority were well behaved, if a little bit LOUD. 
Again, it was a first class experience and we arrived in Cherbourg on time the next morning. We broke Angus out of jail and made our way to the camper. We sat line for quite a little while, not realizing we had a problem. When is was our lane's turn to move Brian turned the key and nothing
The RV again had a dead battery. Fortunately, the crew are well prepared and as we were directly opposite a charging station he had us going within a few minutes. How embarrassing though!

Bonjour France!

 One of the first signs just outside the terminal is this one. Titanic's route in April 1912 was Belfast, Southampton, Cherbourg, Cork, Iceberg. Ooops!

Soon we were on the highway driving south on the proper side of the road.

Due to the battery failure we decided just to press on home and arrived about 8:30 that night.

We left home on May 26th and returned June 27th. It was an amazing trip filled with beautiful and exceptional sights in three countries. But, the most enjoyable and memorable will be the time spent with our family and friends .

We hope you have enjoyed our posts.