So way back in September 2011, I spent a week in a camper van traveling around Ireland with my Mumsy.
Here is some photographic evidence:
Yes, I know what you’re thinking. Is that my mum standing in front of our Wicked camper van?! Yes, it is. Who said you have to be young to backpack? It was cheap and had everything we needed. It was actually a pretty decent van and mum wasn’t fussed by the fact that she didn’t have a fancy big camper van (I’m pretty sure), my mum is great like that. Plus, I had planned a luxury week in England for the last of our trip. I’m talking 5 star hotels. Saving a bit of dosh on the camper allowed us to splash out on the luxury side. I won’t argue that she wasn’t happy to get to the luxury part though! Anyway, I was pretty excited about going to Ireland….everyone loves the Irish and it always looks like such a beautiful, amazing place (you remember P.S I love you right?) so we were obviously expecting to be swept off our feet right?
It was an interesting week. We did have some amazing times. We also had some so-so times. I should have made a playlist of lovely Irish songs to carry us around the country, instead, I had 4 dub step and drum and bass songs on repeat – much to my mothers displeasure. I think a lovely licking of Irish tones would have added to the fantasy of it that I had built up in my head however. Don’t get me wrong, with views like these:
Who’s to be disappointed? It really does have those gorgeous little roads, winding their way around the country side. We drove on lovely seaside cliffs and took in some breathtaking nature. But, in hindsight, all we did was drive, and that is never really that fun. In the week we managed to circumnavigate the entire country. To those of you in Australia, this may not seem like a lot of distance to cover, and trust me, neither did I but it most definitely is. We saw a lot; but we saw it all through the windshield.
But like Ireland, this story is a lot bigger than I had imagined it would be and so I am breaking it down, with a slight feeling of being overwhelmed at the shear extent of posts and travel stories I have to catch you up on in the next few weeks; not to mention the pages I’ve started that sorely need completion! Enough on that though, for the moment, lets start with Northern Ireland and go from there.
So the story started in Belfast – a city I was looking forward to seeing due to my deluded idea of it based on an episode of Sons of Anarchy. I’m not quite sure what I thought that I would find there but it wasn’t what I did. It’s alright but it’s a hard-working city and I did feel the atmosphere of its troubled past and economic struggles. We gave it a go though, wandered around in the rain, wind and bitter cold for a large chunk of the day before giving in and settling down to a nice plate of grub in a fabulous little pub. Steak on a stone! I loved the idea. The stone itself was sizzling, they started off the steak and then delivered to the table where you could continue cooking it to your liking. It was a fabulous idea but one that was kind of lost on mum and I, who both like our steaks quite rare. I did get a nice serve of colcannon however and let me say, god bless the Irish and there flavoured mash.
Having had our fill of Belfast, and having tried white pudding with my full breakfast at the hotel the following morning (thanks to Sue, who made me promise to give it a try, knowing my love of the darker variety) we headed off to collect our van and start our Irish adventure! By the way, if you are going to Ireland and plan on hiring a Wicked camper van to whisk you around for the time you are there – it is nowhere near Belfast. It’s a long, long way away. Hopefully now you will be more prepared for this than I was.
So after spending a good 3 hours locating and collecting our van and stocking it up for the week we head up along the coast of Northern Ireland, soaking up as much as we could of the stunning views and gorgeous chilly, rainy weather as we worked our way towards to regular tourist haunts. First things first, I climbed over the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge in Antrim and I did it in the rain and the wind and was absolutely shitting myself. My mother, less daring but perhaps a little more sane stayed safely on the other side.
I ended up brimming with pride while trying to battle the river of mascara running down my face as I posed for this picture.
It was, I’m not going to lie, truly terrifying and I’m not sure I would have been able to do it had it not been for the lovely guard standing at the start eagerly easing my fears. Just like my bungy jumping, apparently I can be talked into anything. We also hit the Giants Causeway while we were there, something that I was particularly looking forward to having previously visited the other end of it in Scotland and hearing the Scottish folklore of its origin and reason for being. It was good, but ultimately it’s a bunch of crazy shaped stones so there’s not much to say. I will add that I was a little bit pissed off at the time, part of Rope Bridge site had been closed off for filming of Game of Thrones at the time and, not having entered my current obsessed state with the show I was raging. How dare they!
We chilled our beans in a hostel that first night, we hit Derry and not quite being ready to bunk down in the van (it takes a bit of mental preparation to get into these things you know) combined with the fact that it was absolutely bucketing down, and I mean torrential we wisely decided to head indoors. Plus, I knew a fab hostel in the city already. We grabbed some tasty, cheap and cheerful tucker at the local weatherspoons and curled up on their couch for a few rainy weather movies. I’m not going to go into too much detail about Derry. I’ve posted quite in-depth on my love for this troubled little town previously, and our time there was spent with mum exploring much of its history that I had discovered previously. If you would like to read my previous post, you can find it here: That which cannot be named….oops, I think I named them didn’t I.
What I will give you is this picture of a wall that remains from one of the housing buildings, featuring the now synonymous slogan from the incident.
After this, we headed off and out of Northern Ireland and into the rest of our journey. I’ll leave it here for today and pick it up in the next post. I will however, leave you with the recommendation that you have a look into the history of Bloody Sunday. We all belt out the U2 song on the odd occasion, it would do us well to know the history behind it a bit better, something I think my parents generation would be a little more familiar with but perhaps not mine.