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Why A Visit To The Northern Ireland Coastline Is A Must-Do

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The Irish countryside provides some of the most beautiful landscapes on the planet. The picturesque panoramic views at the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge and the Giant’s Causeway make a visit to the Northern Ireland coastline a must-do.

The Dark Hedges

Dark Hedges

The Dark Hedges

The first stop of the tour took us to the Dark Hedges. This is a long tunnel of beech trees lining a country road, made famous because it’s a location featured in a scene from Game of Thrones.

As a Game of Thrones fan I was certainly looking forward to seeing this attraction in person. At one time there were about 200 trees planted in the 18th century but now there are only about 90 left.

Many of the trees have damage from just being old and they are susceptible to damage by storms. It was infuriating to see tourists allowing their children to climb these 200+ year old trees despite the admonishment from the tour guides present.

In fact there was one girl who climbed into one of the trees and then we heard a loud ‘thud’. I like to think that her fall from the tree was the tree’s way of defending itself. (she wasn’t seriously hurt, but her ego definitely took a hit).

dark hedges

Tips:

  • It gets crowded and very congested.
  • If you can rent a car and drive yourself to arrive early in the morning you will have much better views and fewer people.
  • I would have liked to walk all the way to the end of the road but unfortunately we just didn’t have enough time since we were with a tour bus.
  • Don’t climb the trees or allow your children to climb the trees!

Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

Our next stop took us to the coastline to the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge. So what is it? It’s a rope bridge that you can cross over to a small island. That’s all I knew about it. My friends selected this tour and I didn’t ask any questions.  I just paid my money and came along for the adventure.

We were blessed with phenomenal weather during our trip with mild temperatures and no rain at all. The weather along the coastline was perfect to appreciate the natural beauty of the countryside.

As we made the hike from the parking lot down to the rope bridge the views took my breath away. Seeing the towering white cliff faces meet the clear turquoise waters was everything! I was mesmerized.

Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

White Cliffs

 

There was a line already formed to cross the bridge from tour buses that arrived sooner than ours, but who cares about standing in line with awe-inspiring views like these.

 

The rope bridge line

 

The wind down near the cliff’s edge had started to pick up and I was afraid I would lose my scarf and my hat when I crossed the bridge. As we neared I saw that the bridge wasn’t very long, only 60ft, but it was definitely high up, 100ft to be exact.

They only allow a few people to cross at a time and only one direction at time which is why the line queues up so long. The wait was worth it to get to the small island.

I’m not gonna lie, it was a little bit scary. I’m not afraid of heights but with the wind blowing like it was (see my flying locs in the pic below???) that bridge was definitely a little bit swingy.  But I made it across.

Mixture of excitement and fear from the swinging bridge.

The views are crazy from this vantage point!  It’s very rocky terrain and uneven so you definitely have to use great care as you maneuver around on the island.  I was more worried about the other tourist bumping into me than my footing to be honest.

Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

How sick is this view?

On the way back to the tour bus out of nowhere I got overheated. I started to feel dehydrated and I left my water on the tour bus like a dummy.

My friends went ahead to get me water and I laid down along the path to rest. As I laid there these 2 adorable little girls and their mum walked past and then the little girls ran back over to me. They wanted to make sure that I was ok.

Another family of Spanish tourists stopped and offered me “agua”.  I was so grateful for the kindness of these strangers. Even though we didn’t speak the same language, my high school spanish was enough to communicate.

After gulping down the water I started to feel better almost instantly.  As I stood the little girls helped me up and they wanted to walk along with me to make sure I was alright.

By the time my friends made it back to me I was feeling much better. It was so great to experience genuine kindness from other travelers in another part of the world. It’s great to see that the human spirit is still alive and well.

Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

Tips:

  • The lines can get really long.  As soon as you exit the tour bus make a bee line for the rope bridge queue.
  • Wear comfortable shoes with grip for the uneven terrain and half mile hike.
  • There are restrooms near the parking lot.
  • Bring water and jacket and inhaler and anything else critical.  It’s quite a hike to make it back to the parking lot so if you think you might need it bring it!
  • Bring British Pounds if using cash since this is Northern Ireland and they are apart of the UK and don’t use the Euro.

Giant’s Causeway

giants causeway

Giant’s Causeway

After stopping for a quick lunch at a cute little restaurant near the rope bridge, we headed over to the Giant’s Causeway site. This is a World Heritage Site and quite a natural wonder.

giant's causeway

Hexagonal colunns of lava

The coastline is lined with columns of interlocking hexagonal lava from an ancient volcanic eruption. There are tidal pools to explore down below as well as spectacular views from the path up high on the cliff.

I loved walking out to the tidal pools and I even saw scallops! There’s also a cool rock feature that I dubbed the mermaid throne which is a great photo-op.

Scallops in the tidal pools

 

**Update: One of my readers has informed me that the rock structure is actually called the Giant’s Boot.  Meh….Mermaid Throne is way more awesome and more diva like.

mermaid chair

Mermaid Throne

Tips:

  • This attraction gets crowded too so beware.
  • There is a tram that will drive you from the visitor’s center down to the causeway if you don’t want to make the trek on foot. The only downside is that it fills up and you have to wait for it to go down and make the return trip. It can take up time if you are limited by a tour group as we were.
  • You’ll need British Pounds for the tram.
  • You can purchase audio headsets for a self guided tour from the gift shop.

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Belfast

Belfast

Belfast City Hall

Our tour concluded with a quick stopover in Belfast. We literally had enough time to stop, take a bathroom break, grab a snack and then get back on the bus.  The architecture in Belfast was really intriguing and I wish I had the chance to spend a bit more time there to really see how history has shaped Northern Ireland to be so different from Ireland.

If you are staying in Dublin it’s easy to find a tour to take you to the Northern Ireland Coast to explore these amazing attractions. Be prepared for an early start and an all day adventure. It cost around $70USD in advance and we left around 6am and returned around 6pm.

Check out my own personal Ireland Travel Pinterest board that I used to help me plan my trip.  Get inspired and go!

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Domestic,Family Travel,Travel

10 Travel Destinations to Celebrate Black History

travel destinations to celebrate black history

National Museum of African American History & Culture Photo Credit: Douglas Remley (Smithsonian)

 

It’s February so that means we are celebrating Black History Month. In honor of celebrating black history, black excellence, and black achievement here is a list of 10 black history montht travel destinations to celebrate black history year this month and year round.

1. Washington, D.C.

NMAAHC  (National Museum of African American History and Culture) – The National Museum of African American History and Culture is the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history, and culture. To date, the Museum has collected more than 36,000 artifacts and nearly 100,000 individuals have become charter members.  Though admission is free, you’ll need to plan your visit in advance to get passes for a designated time to visit.

2. Atlanta, GA

Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site – There are so many neat things to see at the MLK National Historic Site.  My son really enjoyed seeing the relics in the King Center.

Center for Civil and Human Rights  –  Educating visitors on the bridge between the American Civil Rights Movement and the contemporary struggle for Human Rights around the world. The museum features the King Jr. Collection and more exhibits on global and American civil rights.

3. Cincinnati, OH

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center – The mission of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is to reveal stories of freedom’s heroes, from the era of the Underground Railroad to contemporary times, challenging and inspiring everyone to take courageous steps of freedom today. It serves to inspire modern abolition through connecting the lessons of the Underground Railroad with today’s freedom fighters.

4. San Diego, CA

African Museum Casa del Ray Moro – This is a very unique museum in the heart of San Diego’s historic old town. They showcase ancient, colonial, and contemporary periods of African History, on the African continent and throughout the African Diaspora. There is also a special focus on  African-Spanish, African-Mexican, and African-American heritage.

5. Savannah, GA

Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum– Set in the original site of one of the first black owned banks in Georgia, the museum chronicles the civil rights struggle of Georgia’s oldest African-American community from slavery to the present. Three floors of historic photographic and interactive exhibits provide a glimpse of what life was like during the civil rights struggle in Savannah and in Georgia. My son and I visited on a trip to Savannah/Tybee Island.

Pinpoint Heritage Museum in Savannah,GA – For nearly one hundred years, Pin Point was isolated and self-sustained, a Gullah/Geechee enclave founded by first-generation freedmen where life was deeply connected to the water. Today, the factory has been reopened as Pin Point Heritage Museum, celebrating the life, work and history of this Gullah/Geechee community that calls Pin Point home.

7. Hilton Head Island, SC

Gullah Heritage Trail Tour in Hilton Head Island, SC – Fourth generation Gullah family members bring history to life with this fascinating tour through traditional Gullah neighborhoods and ‘off the beaten path’ historic sites. During the month of February there is also a Gullah Celebration with various events throughout the month.

8. Philadelphia, PA

African American Museum – The African American Museum in Philadelphia is the first institution built by a major United States city to house and interpret the life and work of African Americans. AAMP’s exhibitions promote their mission to interpret art, history and culture. They inspire, educate, promote dialogue, and bring together community.

9. Macon, GA

Tubman Museum – The Tubman Museum is one of the largest museum in the nation dedicated to educating people about the Art, History and Culture of African Americans.

10. St. Augustine, FL

Fort Mose State Park –  Interactive museum that tells the complete story of the first legally sanctioned free African settlement in what would become the United States. Although there are no remains of the earth and wooden structures, visitors can still view the land where the settlement once stood. In the summer months there is a reenactment of the Battle of Bloody Mose.

While Black History Month is a great time to reflect on the accomplishments from the past and present, it can and should be celebrated year round. I hope you’ll make it a point to learn a little bit more about black achievement and black contributions to the world.

celebrate black history

Have you visited any of these?  Are any of them on your list?  If you have a suggestion of a place to visit please tell us in the comments below!

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celebrate black history month

Lifestyle,Tampa Life,Travel

Some People Travel By Plane, I Took a Blimp Ride

blimp ride

I’ve been fascinated with blimps since I was a little girl. I used to get so excited when I spotted the Goodyear or the Metlife blimp fly over. By a fortunate stroke of favor from the universe I was granted the opportunity to take a blimp ride with members of the media, checking off a bucket list adventure I never dreamed I would actually get the chance to do. It’s not like you can just book a blimp ride as you would a plane flight so this is indeed an elite mile high club that not many will never get a chance to say they are apart of. Read More »

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