my dad and i had an absolutely perfect last day in ireland. we woke up on the antrim coastline town of portrush, and had a great ulster fry (an amazing northern irish breakfast, similar to a full english breakfast, but with the addition of fried soda bread and fried potato bread, both of which are just so frickin’ good!). then we set off on our day of tourism on the antrim coast.
first we hit the bushmill’s factory tour. bushmill’s is the oldest whiskey distillery in the world (officially licensed since 1608, but operating a couple hundred years prior to that). and whether you like whiskey or not, it’s a great tour. my dad and i were the only two people there for a tour at that early hour, so we essentially got a private tour. our old-ish tour guide was great, and we had so much fun. i’ve been on the tour two previous times, but i learned SO much more today. i finally understand the difference between scotch whisky, irish whiskey, and american bourbon (actually, kentucky bourbon and tennesee whiskey). and, though my dad has never even come close to liking whiskey, the guide gently coached him through some taste tests with a bit of water to soften the taste, and my dad actually like it! sweet!
next was dunluce castle, one of my favorite ruins in ireland. beautiful place hanging on to the edge of a massive cliffside. then we were off to the giant’s causeway, a world heritage site, and one of the most amazing and strange natural rock formations i’ve ever seen. really. google it or wikipedia it and look at the pics. we absolutely froze our butts off there, though; so we didn’t stay long.
next stop was the carrick-a-rede rope bridge, a truly odd tourist stop. it’s a historic rope bridge 100 feet over a small water channel (from the mainland to a tiny island), originally placed for a salmon fishery. it’s windy and wobbly and super-freaky. cold and rainy on us, but a blast.
finally, we drove my favorite road in ireland — one of my favorite drives in the world: a little road around the very northeast corner of ireland. the road is barely wider than one lane, and is cut into the top of extremely high hillsides that plunge down to the sea (scotland is visible at the outermost point). the hills are shockingly green and filled with sheep that seem like they should be rolling side-over-side down to the water.
tonite we’re in belfast, and, after dinner, i’m meeting my buddy johnny parks (the worship leader) for a pint. tomorrow morning we fly to the states: my dad to detroit, and me to beautiful grand rapids.
goodbye, ireland – until next time. you’re still one of my favorite countries on earth. you and argentina, and maybe new zealand. and, i suppose, the u.s. sometimes.