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Friday, September 23, 2011

Ireland: Part 3

It has taken forever, but I have FINALLY gotten to the last set of pictures from our Ireland trip (you may not have even realized there were more pictures).  It has taken so long because there were so many pictures to go through.  

I think that kindergarten has finally hit me.  This week I have been so tired!  The kids and I had a great and very laid back summer (despite 2 moves).  We were never anywhere before 9.  Who am I kidding, we were rarely out of our pajamas before 9.  So being somewhere everyday, has been a bit of a change.  Not just the being somewhere, but the added laundry (we are not in dress up or bathing suits all day, but real clothes) and the lunches (does not take long to make, but for some reason just seems hard) and folding the laundry and all the papers to deal with from school and soccer practice....  So, "non-essential" tasks that have seemed like no big deal before, even things that I really enjoy, have seemed a little daunting the past couple of weeks.  I started this post last night, but literally fell asleep with the computer in my lap about 3 times before I just gave up and went to bed.  

Here is my second attempt...

We spent the last 2 days of our trip in Belfast.  We generally try to plan a side trip at the end of our mission trips as a time of unwinding from a very hectic week.  After much research (by Murray, not me) we decided Belfast would be a great place for the team to spend the last two days of the trip.

Belfast is the home of...
you guessed it, C.S. Lewis.  Many people think he from England because of his time in Oxford, but he grew up in Belfast.  There is actually a C.S. Lewis tour, which I was dying to go on.  But because of timing, it just did not work out.  However, a friend of a friend (the real scenario is much too difficult to explain) took us on our own quick private tour on the way to dinner at her house.

Here is Murray entering Narnia
 No pictures inside Narnia, he forgot to take the camera:(

The church where Lewis grew up.
 The home that Lewis grew up in.
Can't you just see how this house inspired him for The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe?
This is actually still a private residence and we had to drive by quickly
because the owner was pulling out of the driveway while I took this picture.
I cannot imagine how many people they get stopping to take pictures. 

The main reason that we decided to stay in Belfast was because it was the easiest place to stay to visit the northern coast and still be able to catch a flight in Dublin the next day.  The original plan was to take a bus from Belfast up to the coast and see the sights with the tour bus.  But where is the fun and adventure in that?  Plus we knew we would miss so much on a bus.  So we rented cars!  From the minute we got outside of Belfast we were so glad we rented cars (not so glad while we were in Belfast). We were in no hurry to get up to the coast, but finally we had to stop stopping so that we would actually make it to our intended destination.

How can you pass this up?
Or this?
Or this?

 These pictures are from the gardens that we stopped at for breakfast.
Since we are starting the process of starting to think about rebuilding,
I could not help but dreaming about what it would be like to have an Irish cottage.
 Who wouldn't want this view from their breakfast room?

Back to the car...

So sad there are no pictures of our matching Ford Fiestas!  I cannot capture in words what it was like riding in Belfast and then through Northern Ireland in our Fiestas.  Murray and Mark were the designated drivers and they made it their mission to drive like the Irish.

The roads in Northern Ireland are beyond narrow.  I took this picture to show how amusing it was that they had painted stripes on the road because there was no way two cars were fitting by each other.  You just cannot tell how narrow these roads were in these pictures!
We had one successful pass, however no one knows how it happened because everyone was screaming and closing their eyes (including Murray).  
So the next time I saw a car approaching I took a picture to try to capture just how narrow the roads were.  This time Murray pulled over as far as he could (which is just laughable because there are 5 foot hedges at the edge of the road, a shoulder is nonexistent) and stopped.  See how close they are?
This car actually hit our side mirror!  So glad it was a rental!  So glad I captured the moment!

The purpose of our trip north was to drive along the Costal Highway and see the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge and Giant's Causeway.  Of course this offered more spectacular views.
 (for any Harry Potter fans, doesn't this cave remind you of the cave
that you imagined where Voldemort hid the Horcrux?)
 If I am honest, I will say we were a little let down by the rope bridge.
It was sooo built up.  I was expecting something much longer.
However, it was VERY high.
This was no trek for someone afraid of heights.
But, of course, the view was spectacular!
 (who knows what these guys are thinking?)
The next stop was Giant's Causeway.  It has been described as the 8th Wonder of the World.  And after spending time there I know why!  It is amazing.  The area consists of roughly 40,000 hexagonal columns that were supposedly formed through volcanic eruption.  It is way beyond my scientific capability to even begin to comprehend how this happened.  All it makes me think of is how big God is!  Every rock, every rock in the whole area is a hexagon.

The final stop of our day was the conclusion of our C.S. Lewis tour at Dunluce Castle.  This is the castle that supposedly was the inspiration for Lewis for Cair Paravel.
 These final pictures are what I imagine our gardens looking like one day.

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