September 24: Belfast is a large modern city – not of much interest to us, but the hotel was conveniently downtown and adequate. Across one street was The Presbyterian Assembly with its unusual steeple. Across the other way was a large opera house, and down a block was the large old Victoria Street Baptist Church.
Back on the “tourist trail,” we left Belfast and drove along the spectacularly pretty Antrim Coastal Road. Adding a cherry to top off our sundae, the weather was wonderful. The coast is very rugged and dotted with villages nestled between cliffs and sea.
Eventually we reached the Carrick-a-Rede wire rope bridge. The bridge, reached after a long walk along the cliffs, is about sixty feet wide and crosses a chasm 100 feet deep. It was originally created so fishermen could unload their catch and bring it ashore. They carried their gear and catch across a bridge with just one rope railing. Now there ar two with rope netting down to the wide plank bridge. The rope bridge goes far back: there was an 1803 report of “82 fishers, 21 salmon fishers and 10 fish carriers” using it. From the trail, we could see Scotland in the far distance.
Alie had hurt her foot at the Corrigan farm the day before and does not do well with heights, so she waited while Michelle and I walked the trail. After I crossed the bridge with sunglasses in one hand, camera in the other and neither on the ropes, the park employee said “crossed good.”
Next stop was The Giants Causeway, a World Heritage Site. It is a formation of hexagonal shaped stone pillars close together estimated to be 62 to 65 million years old. Where they come down into the sea, they seem to form stepping-stones on a huge causeway. Also, at the foot of the bay was a huge stone which waves have worn into the shape of a comfortable chair.
We finished the day in the walled city of Londonderry. There was some rioting here a few weeks before we left home, and hatred still lies beneath the surface, but progress has been made. Jim marveled at the changes he has seen. He said partisan flags used to be everywhere in Belfast and now there are only a few. And in Ireland this week, the
IRA candidate for President was emphasizing he was a “peace candidate “ backpedalling fast on a loose statement he had made earlier implying criticism of some as favoring the “Brits.” Most of inner city Londonderry had already closed for business as we walked on top of the old wall, but we found a pub for dinner.
We have yet to have a bad meal. Even the pub food is exceptional, and in Londonderry we decided to go with the traditional fish and chips and Irish stew. Both were good and the fish and chips were served with garden fresh peas, the best I have ever had in a restaurant.