Tuesday, June 3, 2014

#NobodyDied - Adventures in Northern Ireland

After my mom and I had finished our 4 day adventure in Glasgow, off we headed back to the airport and onto a plane to Belfast!

Step One: Getting the rental car
As my mom and I talked about what we wanted to do and see on this trip, there was a lot in Northern Ireland that was under consideration. Both sides of my family are connected to Northern Ireland, and my paternal grandfather (my dads dad) was born in Enniskillen. So in order to maximize our time and adventure potential, my mom said that we would rent a car! How hard could driving in the UK be?! Yeah… right.

So we pick up the car and get our baggage loaded up, and in mom gets behind the wheel. She couldn't seem to wrap her head around sitting on the right side of the car to drive on the left side of the road, so I offered to drive the first leg of the trip, from Belfast to BalleyCastle. I was confident at the beginning, but once we got onto the highway through Belfast, it was a little intimidating. I was honked at once for being on the right side of the highway going the speed limit and learned my first, and most important lesson about driving in the UK - Just mirror everything that you do at home. If the slow lane at home is the right, it's now the left, if traffic circles go to the right at home, you enter from the left. So off we go to BalleyCastle.

Now the Costal Road looks like a fairly major highway, but let me tell you… it's not. At least not by North American standards. So it was really an adventure when suddenly the road becomes one land each way and very narrow. We often had a stone wall on one side and a shear cliff on the other side. That was when there wasn't on coming traffic coming at you at what felt like break neck speeds. Then we get to the first small town and the nerves really set in! Where here in Alberta, highways don't tend to go directly through small towns (and when they do, you aren't actually going down small town streets, but stay on major roads at slower speeds), but there, it seems like you hit every small town and drive through the winding streets to get back to the Coastal Road. On one hand, it was kind of cool to see all these little towns and villages, but on the other it was annoying and nerve racking! Streets are narrow, and if you live there and need to pack, you just park… right on the road… facing any direction, and traffic just has to move around it. It made it VERY INTERESTING at some points in the journey.

But we arrived in BalleyCastle without killing anybody, or each other. And now we just had to find a hotel or a bed and breakfast for the night. Driving around BalleyCastle just made me anxious because sit was very busy. It was a long weekend and I guess everyone was at the coast! So I pulled over and mom took over. We found a really cute B&B that was an easy walk to the beach. So we parked, unpacked and went to explore! BalleyCastle is beautiful, and we found a pizza joint and had some ice cream and just went for a walk!

Coast line in BalleyCastle

The harbour in BalleyCastle
So that is day one in Northern Ireland! We survived and we didn't manage to kill anybody else either! #NobodyDied

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