bon adventures

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Coastal Drive

On Sunday, Jason and I took the rented car up north into the country and along the coast. Jason had to adjust to driving on the "wrong" side of the road. Let's just say that it's a good thing that the side view mirrors are designed to collapse without damage. They just pop back out.

On our trip, our opinion of roundabouts (traffic circles) did a 180. At first we thought that they were fantastic, because if we missed an exit, we just went around again. Convenient! Then we realized that there is a roundabout in virtually every small town and you cannot drive straight through the town, you have to go through a bothersome roundabout. There is a small sign before the roundabout that tells you which exit to take, but they are often difficult to decipher: lots of information that you need to read fast. We actually took a wrong exit on our way home, and ended up missing the coastal drive. We didn't realize we had made a wrong exit until many miles later (distance is measured in miles in North Ireland, and kilometers in the Republic of Ireland. There is also a different currency in each, and don't try to pay with the wrong money because people are quite touchy about it. "We don't take Sterling, that's English money.")

Our first stop was the Dark Hedges, which are some magical trees that grow over a country road. Even though it's not an official tourist attraction, we found it quite easily without detailed directions or signs. We were the only people there. This destination was the main reason we decided to drive rather than go on a tour bus because busses don't stop there.
Next, we went to the Bushmills Distillery. It's the oldest licensed distillery in the world (1608). We were fortunate enough to see all of the DeLoreans stopping in the parking lot on their tour of the coast. We saw about fifty of them! They are made of stainless steel and have gull-wing doors. They are quite rare. It was the time machine in "Back to the Future." I thought it was a fictional car until Sunday. Jason posted a video on YouTube. There's another video below it of the doors opening.
On the tour of Bushmills we learned the difference between different types of spirits. For Scotch, the barley mash is dried over a peat fire, hence the smoky, mossy flavour. For whiskey, the barley mash is dried over warm air, so it has a smoother flavour. Bourbon is filtered once, and matures in brand new oak barrels. Scotch is filtered twice, and whiskey is filtered three times. Whiskey matures for 5 years in oak barrels that have previously stored bourbon, sherry, and port.

We then got to sample some Bushmills. I had my first Hot Toddy, and I fell in love! Mmmm, it tastes like warm happiness.
If we had visited the distillery on a weekday, we would have been able to see people working and the entire production line.

We then drove a short way to the Giant's Causeway, which is a magical place on the coast. Cooling lava formed millions of hexagonal columns. WOW! I don't know how to describe this place in words, so I'll show you pictures. That's Jason in the middle of the frame.
We drove to Dunluce Castle next. It was a lot of fun to explore the ruins. The view of the ocean from the castle windows was breathtaking.
One stormy night, in 1639, the north wall of the kitchen court fell into the sea, taking several servants with it to their death. The duchess of the castle refused to live on the rock ever again and a new house on the mainland was built for her.


  • At May 30, 2006 7:50 AM, Anonymous Diana said…

    WOW! Thanks for the regular posts, Bonnie. Your detailed descriptions are thrilling to read. Sounds like you're having a fantastic time!


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