Bushmills turned out to be my favorite stopping place for an odd little reason. I took a road going north out of Enniskillen to Bushmills where I was staying at Craig Cottage, but I wasn’t sure where it was located. I drove straight through Bushmills and found a wonderful Park and Ride on the north west side of the town with several buses advertising tours of the Giant’s Causeway. I pulled in and asked one of the drivers for directions. It turned out that he was related to the couple who ran Craig Cottage and he told me that I could follow him until he had to turn off for the Giant’s Causeway. If I kept going straight, I’d drive right passed it. I followed him and he waved at me when he had to turn off.
Craig Cottage was charming. The lady’s brother owns the farm next door and the cows would come into the pasture in the back of the house. It was so odd to see these placid cows calmly eating their grass and behind them, I could see the Atlantic Ocean! I was halfway through my trip and had passed from panic to resignation. The parking lot at Craig Cottage was easier to get in and out of so, after I had unloaded the car, I drove back to the Park and Ride. The Park and Ride is the reason I loved Bushmills. They had a big parking lot where I could park my car for free and meander around the town. It was wonderful! The best part is that there was a pub across the street that had amazing Beef and Guinness Pie. I ate there for every lunch!
I checked out the post office and decided to mail some of my stuff (dirty clothes and books I had read) back home so that there would be more room in my suitcases. (It worked out pretty good – I got them about a month after I returned home!)
The second day there, I went to the Park and Ride and waited for a bus tour of the Giant’s Causeway. There was a couple waiting under the shelter, so I joined them. They were from New Jersey and had been lost in Dublin for two hours. The guy felt much better when I told him I had been lost for four hours in Belfast! It turned out that the buses just took us to the souvenir shop of the Giant’s Causeway. Once there, we got a tape recorder that you took with you and, when you reached certain points in the trail, you could turn on the tape recorder and hear neat things about the Giant’s Causeway. The trail went for quite a way down to the basalt columns. There were buses that you could take down to a parking lot at the bottom of the trail and they would bring you back up. After walking down, I decided to ride back up. When I got back to the Visitor’s Center, there was a tram you could ride back to Bushmills. There were bench seats along the sides of the cars so a person could gab easily with the others in the car.
There was a couple from Brighton on the tram and they invited me to go with them to visit the distillery in Bushmills. That was a huge place. They said that you could tell the difference between whiskey made in Ireland from whisky made in Scotland – Irish whiskey has an “e”!!
The last full day in Bushmills was spent on Rathlin Island. This is a small island where puffins have their nesting sites. Puffins are funny looking birds that fly between Nova Scotia and Ireland. I missed their time in Ireland, but I heard that it was good that I did. They seem to swarm all over the cliffs, making lots of noise and bird poop!
You take a ferry to the island and there are buses that will give you a tour of the island. I was surprised that, to see the nesting grounds of the puffins, you take steps down, quite a way, to an observatory/lighthouse. It was really interesting. The Manor House is an old hotel/restaurant overlooking the harbor, and I had lunch there before heading back to Craig Cottage.
I discovered that there was a fellow staying at Craig Cottage who drives tourists around the country! Why didn’t I know that there were people who would drive me around before I came here!?! I asked him for lots of directions to get to my next bed and breakfast in Portadown.