In the late afternoon, we left the peninsula of Inishowen in County Donegal and crossed the Northern Irish border. We tried to get as close as we could to the Giant's causeway so we could go straight there in the morning. But, there was the search for accommodation again. My friend really wanted to try the b&b experience to get to know the 'locals'. We both felt that we had been reasonable food and accommodation wise, so a treat was well deserved. I kept an eye on my side of the road for a beautiful house facing the amazing seaview. One looked like it could fit the bill and we made a stop. A lovely little old lady answered the door and apologised profusely as there was no vacancy. I thanked her and was about to get back to the car when she asked me to wait a moment. Not only she went into the trouble to phone all the accommodations from the area until she found one for us, but she sent her husband on the road to show us the way. Utter loveliness. We were so touched that when we got to said accommmodation, we tried as much as we could to hide our disappointment when thanking our guide. The 'bungalow' was standing next to a petrol station, on the side of a busy road. It certainly wasn't the treat we had in mind.
We realised in the morning that we had landed in the town of Bushmills (famous for its whisky), within a stone's throw to the Giant's Causeway. In an excited hurry, we set on our way! Once more, we were met by incredible landscapes meandering our way up to the cliffs. The hills surrounding us were recovered by the most vibrant patchwork of fields.
When you get there, you kinda realise how big a machine the Giant's Causeway is for Northern Irish tourism. You have to go through the visitor's centre to access the site and it's all sparkly and huge and very crowded. It sort of tarnished the experience of it all for me, I have to say. Maybe it's just me, but when you mean to visit a natural wonder, the last thing you think about is audio guides and leaflets. We managed to refuse it all , despite being offered several times. It was clear at that stage that it wouldn't be a peaceful stroll on the shore.
It was quite busy but we forgot about it as soon as we saw the majesty of the cliffs and the weirdness of the causeway. You're there standing on those hexagonal cylinders and you just bug. How is that possible?
Once we were done staring at it all in puzzlement, we got back on the path that reaches The Organ. There on the site of a cliff, more basalt tubes are shaped into what looks like a creepy instrument. Next were the Shepherd's steps, 162 of them that nearly was the death knell of me. But my, the view is all worth it! There you are standing on top of the cliffs, looking down at people on the Causeway, bustling around like bees on a cosmic honeycomb. Behind you, the now familiar country fields, on your right higher cliffs and on your left, two strangely shaped ones with a flat top where black cows graze, seemingly unaware of the strangeness of their environment.
Proud of ourselves, we left the site. We had done it. The goal was to get here by the end of our trip and it was all kinds of amazing. We even had a half-day to spare. We used it to go back in the Republic of Ireland (easier for us as the currency is the euro) and also for the sheer practicality to be nearer to Dublin as we needed to get the rental car back in the morning.
I couldn't find any place mentioned by my guide on the East coast of Ireland between Dundalk and Dublin. So I decided to phone the boyfriend and make good use of his Irishness. He recommended a little sea resort Town located 45 minutes away from the capital, called Bettystown. He used to go there as a kid and had fond memories of the arcades. We unfortunately didn't visit them as we got there late, but it was an amazing recommendation as we found the b&b of our dream. The creepiest little dollhouse facing the sea and the kindest of hostesses, Nanette. I say 'creepiest' because at the time we were staying, the town was swarmed by daddy-long-legs and they were literally everywhere. It could have been the backdrop of a Stephen King novel. Despite the insect madness, I can't recommend The Rannoch B&B enough, if you end up in that area. I'll definitely go back, even if it's not that far from where I live.
This marks the end of my Irish road-trip series sadly. I wish it could have gone forever. I'm already thinking about my next one... The Ring of Kerry, maybe? Now, all I need is a driver...