Northern Ireland won the vote for this week's destination. It's my international home and landscapes like this one make my heart soar.
In the Cathedral Quarter of Belfast you'll easily find the umbrella passage off of Commercial Court. This image comes from the courtyard at the end of the passage. The entire Cathedral Quarter is bursting with murals. I took a guided mural walk which revealed much of the city's long-past history, recent past, and current times through the art. The hanging of umbrellas is not an uncommon means of urban public art. There are streets of umbrellas in France, Turkey, Portugal, and many more. Yes, they are colorful installations but is there a meaning behind the choice of umbrellas? According to the University of Michigan site: "the umbrella usually symbolizes the canopy of the heavens, shelter and protection." While I can't confirm that this is the meaning for the umbrellas in Belfast, it does make sense.
Medieval castles, Edwardian walks, legends about giants, and the British Open in 2019. Between Belfast and Derry lies the Causeway Coastal Route route and it's a traveler's dream. It has spectacular scenery and dramatic history, great food, cozy pubs, and whiskey tasting. Yes, Bushmills Distillery is on the route which is easy enough for the first-time solo traveler yet special enough to be a bucket list dream trip for all solo travelers. This is one of the most popular images of Northern Ireland, the Giant's Causeway. Imagine, 40,000 interlocking, mostly hexagonal columns rushing from the mountains and cliffs to the sea. As the legend goes, the columns were built by Irish giant Finn MacCool so that he could cross the water between Ireland and Scotland to fight his Scottish Giant adversary. Hence, their collective name, the Giant's Causeway. Or, we can believe the perhaps less interesting, geological explanation of the causeway which dates back 60 million years.
Ballintoy Harbour, County Antrim - this is one of the shooting locations for Game of Thrones in Northern Ireland. Filming of seasons one to eight took place in 25 locations around Northern Ireland including Titanic Studios in Belfast, Cushendun Caves, Murlough Bay, Larrybane, Antrim plateau, Castle Ward, Inch Abbey, Downhill Strand, and Ballintoy Harbour. Search "Game of Thrones Driving Tour Map" for a self-guided tour of the locations.
Whitehead is on the northern point of the lough which is long, wide, and deep making it a perfect port. It is where the Titanic was built and some of my ancestors were among the laborers. As the story goes, many of the workers, including one in my family, took small mementos before the ship launched. (Though I would not say that a silver wine caddy is a small memento.) Around the point is The Gobbins, a path along the coastal cliff facing out to the North Sea.