So the holiday season has passed once more. Still a little lazy and more tired than usual, but we are looking forward to what lies ahead. The Christmas was spent at Mouni with a Swedish buffet containing meatballs, ham, salmon, red cabbage and apple salad and crisp bread. We took the day off and just relaxed, but continued with our projects again on Christmas day and as the storm passed over the UK Jens managed to complete the work on the companionway doors.
On Boxing day, we were invited to Ian’s family for their traditional Boxing day picnic and hike. We spent the day enjoying an Ulster fry and some hiking in the Mournes, it was a beautiful sunny day!
The harbour has been filled with people during the holidays, so we have not been alone. While Jens was working on improving my berth and raising it in case we will move the batteries up there, Shadowmere became our hotel in the nights. This meant that it was far easier to get the work done and we didn´t have to sleep in the fumes of the nasty 2-component paint. To thank our friends for this, we decided to invite them for New year’s dinner. And so the year ended with good food and lots of laughter among friends.
Just before New year’s, we spent one day enjoying this year´s Christmas present: a bus tour up the coast with a specific theme – Game of Thrones. Much of the series has been recorded here and we thought it might be a fun twist that would enable us to see more of Northern Ireland in an entertaining way. The journey started with a stop at Carrickfergus Roman castle and then continued up along the coast, on Northern Irelands version of Highway One.
We stopped at the Cushendun caves, where the guide (who works as an extra in Game of Thrones) led us into the caves by the sea where the shadow assassin was born.
Besides recognising it from the TV-series, it was a magnificent place in terms in the geological features. There were several caves inside, and on the other side was an entry to a house that was built on the walls of stone, apparently out for sale now…
The journey continued up along the east coast, which took us through the beautiful landscape in Glens of Antrim and its small towns. We passed by many castles on the way, several used in the series such as the Castle black and the wall. The guide claimed that one of the reasons the director loved using Northern Ireland and Belfast as a base is because only an hour from the city there is a vast countryside with no houses for miles where they could record different types of scenes.
The next stop was probably our favourite. Carrick-A-Rede is most famous for its rope bridge, which really wasn´t anything spectacular. But the view!
All along the coast you can see the light limestone, both in the dramatic landscape and in constructions such as the pier in Glenarm. Closeby the disused limestone quarry in Larrybane (just beside Carrick-A-Rede) there where several scenes filmed during several seasons, e.g. Renly´s war camp in the Stormlands where Brienne of Tarth fought Ser Loras of the Flowers. The Sheep island with its flat surface is a nice backdrop.
One of the most famous tourist destinations in Northern Ireland is the Giant´s Causeway. Set by the stormy northern coast and consisting of more than impressive 40,000 columns with a flat pentagon or hexagon surface, it was named after the tale about how it was created. The myth is that the Irish giant Fionn mac Cumhaill, was challenged to a fight by the Scottish giant Benandonner. Fionn built the causeway across the North Channel so that they could meet. Fionn hides from Benandonner when he realises that his foe is much bigger than he and his wife disguises Fionn as a baby and tucks him in a cradle. When Benandonner sees the size of the ‘baby’, he reckons that its father, Fionn, must be a giant among giants. He flees back to Scotland in fright, destroying the causeway behind him so that Fionn could not follow. Across the sea, there are identical basalt columns (a part of the same ancient lava flow) at the Scottish isle of Staffa.
After the stop at the Giants causeway, the sun was setting but we got one more stop on the way – the Dark Hedges. Also part of one of the episodes in Game of Thrones, but impressive in its own right with the unusual intertwined beech trees that was planted in the 18th century and cut to frame the entrance to a mansion in Ballymoney. Some of the trees have fallen in the storms the last few years, which were then used to make beautiful carved wooden doors and placed in different bars and hotels close to the places where Game of Thrones was set.
After a long day on the road, we were quite happy to take a nap on the way back to our home harbour in Titanic Belfast. Just next door is”Titanic Studios” an enormous building which now contains one of the worlds largest “stage sets” now used in the creation of Game of Thrones. And, we do have our own extra from Game of Thrones here in the harbour, a perfect end of the evening is to stop by Elliot for a night cap 😉 (a shot from the first episode and our neighbour to the right below).
So, if you haven´t seen Game of Thrones yet, we really recommend the series (although we have only seen the two first seasons yet) and wether you like the series or not, Northern Ireland is a beautiful place to be.