Northern Ireland: Game of Throne tour

Guess where are some of the best GoT shooting locations? Yes, indeed they right here in the northern coasts of N.I. And since we were already here in N.I., how could we pass on this perfect opportunity to visit these enchanting sites? So, for the 3rd day of our four-day trip to Belfast, we decided to do the GoT day tour for just £25 per head that included visiting the Carrickfergus castle, the death-defying rope bridge, the wonderous Giant's causeway and the enchanting avenues of beech trees called the Dark Hedges.
 

Carrickfergus Castle


Starting right after breakfast at about 8:45 AM, we took the mini shuttle right at our door-step for the coach station where we were to aboard the tour coach, that we booked via phone. After everyone was aboard, we headed for our first destination point, Carrickfergus Castle situated right at Antrim harbour. The castle is a 12th century Norman castle that is quite plain in architecture tbh, with not a whole lot of thing to explore in and around the structure. We had a 15 minutes stop over here, along with a toilet break, before we headed for the real tour. The sky was a little gloomy when we started and the wind chilly but we had our hopes up :)

The harbour
Carrickfergus Castle
Harbour fishing pier
Statue of King William III
 
The harbour

Rope bridge


The way to Rope bridge, Carrick-a-Rede national trust, was long but filled with some astounding scenery till the eyes could see. We were mostly on the coastal route so while one side of the coach was facing the lovely view of the hilly pastural grounds complete with grazing critters (that, mind you, come with the strong odour of manure...) while the other side was facing the seafront with some incredible features and villages. And to top it all, the tour guide was a delight who was both informative and entertaining for the entirety of the journey. 

After an hour and half of road trip, we finally arrived at our 2nd destination, Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. Thankfully, the weather also cleared up by the time we got to the heritage site. If one could fall in love with a place, well you can say I was in one! The place was exceptionally beautiful, abundant in natural charm with stunning views of Rathlin Island and even Scotland!

The rope bridge connects the mainland with a little island called Carrickarede that was formed about 60 million years ago by hardening of magma from a volcanic eruption. There are few more islands beyond Carrickarede but due to the delicate nature and uniqueness of their geology, they are best left untouched. The bridge itself is about 30 meters above the sea level, and spans about 20 metres in length, wide enough for one person to cross over at a time. To keep up with the health and safety, a single file of about 8-10 people cross the bridge at a time per side with an interval between the two sides. We had about an hour to explore, cross over to the island, take pictures to our heart's content, and return to the coach for departure.

Here are a few pictures that barely do justice to the beautiful scenery of Carrick-a-Rede:

picture perfect
Locked to you
On the way to the bridge
Looking back...
I want to swim in the blue...
The bright turquoise waters
I could be here forever...
Crossed over!
The view below...
Volcanic islands
Colour blend
Happy me... In love with nature
" Please! One last pic and we can go... I promise" :P
 Next stop, Giant's Causway... The Causway coastline was not too far from here. But first, lunch! After such a lovely time under the sun, we were ready for some munchies since it was almost lunch time. We were taken to a cafe for our meal. Since there was massive queue and only few minutes to spare, I was happy with just a cream tea for me meal. My friends helped themselves to some too. After lunch, we were ready for the biggest highlight of the day, the World Heritage Site, Giant's Causway!

Giant's Causeway 


Giant's Causeway is a very interesting and curious geological anomaly of interlocking (mostly) hexagonal basalt columns, that is presumably a result of an ancient volcanic eruption about 50-60 million years ago, situated in the Northern coasts of the Causeway Coast World Heritage Site protected and maintained by the National trust.

The place gets its name from the legends where giants were thought to build columnar causways. The peculiar structure of the geometric stones are an enigma of nature to me! How the columns fractured into perfect hexagonal "biscuits" just seem so surreal!

Perhaps the world was created in 8-bits at the beginning, and with time the programmer (i.e. the creator) got better at producing finer resolutions and made everything more defined... The giant Causeway looks like the remnants of those by gone 8-bit pixelated era to me.... Now wouldn't that make for a good story ;)!

Causway coastline
Causway coastline

Giant's Causway
Perfect Hexagonal boulders
Pensive yet romantic
Something out of a fairy tale...
The surreal formation
The waves beat down but the pillars still stand
Beautiful features
View of a lifetime...
Words couldn't descride this place alone, it has to be felt in person. It is incredible how sometimes some place can transport into a different world all together...  Next, from Giant's Causeway we boarded the coach for our return. We stopped over at the Bushmills brewery for some taster of Irish whiskey for about 15-20 minutes. The lovely driver mentioned that if time permits we would be driving through the mysteriosly haunting Dark Hedges before sundown.

Dark Hedges


So,  the time did permit, we got to Dark Hedges right on time and had few minutes to spare before it was dark. The beautiful avenue of beech trees is as haunting as in the pitures and movies. They trees were planted by the Stuart family in the 18th century with the intention of compelling romantic, atmospheric, tunnel-like avenue of intertwined landscape features to impress visitors as they approached the entrance to their Georgian mansion, Gracehill House. Even after 2 centuries, the trees remain a magnificent sight and have become one of the most photographed natural phenomena in N.I. to the extend that the iconic trees have been used as a filming location in HBO's epic series Game of Thrones, representing the King's Road. 

Look how haunting they are...

Tall and mighty... Even after 200 years
A passage into a different world
The king's road

And so ended the expedition into the world of irish haven... My Liverpudlian friend left us the next day at the crack of dawn, while my Glaswegian friend and I headed to the US embassy to get our visa interview done. After the interview was over, we spent the rest of the day exploring the city of Belfast and the shopping centres before our flight to Glasgow... Yes siry, I was off to another adventure at the city of Glasgow with my friend and host for next two days :) Anyway, here are a few glimpses of the city:

City Hall
City hall
 
 Local artistry

And so ends my accounts of the little jaunt to the lovely country of Northern Ireland. I know I will be back as its exquisite beauty beacons me even now as I type, and there is still so much left to see...

Until my Glasgow diaries...

Adieu!
A