Saturday, January 30, 2016

Giant's Causeway

Giant's Causeway is one of those places in the world that makes you believe in magic. If you ever find yourself in Ireland or Northern Ireland, make sure you find a way to go see the Causeway. After a great experience with PaddyWagon, I booked a day tour from Belfast.

Our first stop was at a place called "The Dark Hedges," where some scenes from Game of Thrones were filmed. It's a really interesting piece of road, where the king at the time, James II had trees planted on either side to decorate the road and impress his friends. The trees miraculous stayed alive over 150 years longer than their life expectancy! They stoop over the road like a creepy archway.

Next, we stopped at Carrick-a-Rede, a beautiful bay where there's a rope bridge that used to connect the fishery island to the mainland. Normally, tourists can cross the bridge, but the winds were going up to 50mph, and it was a little dangerous... so the bridge was closed. The winds were so strong I honestly thought it would pop my eardrum!

We got back on the bus and finally made our way to the famous Giant's Causeway! It is made up of about 40,000 basalt columns of various heights that slowly sink into the sea. This was created about 60 million years ago when the continents were formed and volcanoes erupted. Basalt is a volcanic rock and the columns were formed when the lava cooled over multiple ice ages.
It was an amazing sight, with the waves crashing around us as we climbed the rocks and touched millions of years in the making.

My favourite part about the Causeway is the legend of how it was created:
Ireland used to be a land of giants, before the humans came, and there was a giant who lived on the northern coast named Finn McCool, who was 100 feet tall. He could see in the distance another giant on the coast of Scotland who was named Benandonner. Finn shouted insult after insult, hoping that Benandonner would cross over and fight him. Finn wanted to have a contest to see who was the strongest. Finn kept on screaming, but Benandonner kept on ignoring him. Frustrated, Finn started throwing stones he shaped by hand into the water to make a path of stepping stones. He made a path going all the way to Scotland! On his way there, he noticed that Benandonner was getting bigger and bigger as he got closer. He was 200 feet tall! Scared, Finn ran back to Ireland.
Benandonner was furious, and followed him back to his house. Finn hid in his house while his wife welcomed the other giant, telling him that Finn was gone hunting, that he could wait here with a cup of tea. Panicked, Finn took the bedsheets and wrapped himself up in them and put on a baby cap. He ran into the crib in the corner or the room where his now-grown child used to sleep and started crying while sucking his thumb.
Benandonner heard the cry and went to look. When he saw the 100 foot baby, he was terrified! If the baby was a 100 foot tall, can you imagine the father?! He ran out of the house and ran back to Scotland, kicking and destroying the causeway as he went, making sure Finn McCool never found a way to come to Scotland and fight him. All we can see now is the ruins of the causeway that Benandonner left behind.
Cute right?

After two hours by the Causeway, I spent a little bit of time in the Visitor Centre, which actually has an animation of that legend and all kinds of gifts featuring Finn McCool.

We did one little detour before we headed back to Belfast. We stopped quickly at Dunluce Castle, a castle that has been in ruins since the 1600s. One day, a part of the cliff crumbled, taking the entire kitchen down with it. Only one person in the kitchen survived, and a few weeks later, the castle was deemed unsafe and has been in ruins ever since.

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