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Northern Ireland – Part 2: One day at the Causeway Coastal Route!
18. August 2017
You and a rental car – this makes a perfect day trip from Belfast to the surreal Causeway Coastal Route in Northern Ireland. Along the Causeway Coastal Route The Causeway Coastal Route is not only a charming coastal route along the Atlantic Ocean lined by remote villages which are decorated with the Union Jack or the Red Flag of Ulster. No, it numerous sites to offer. Of course, some of them are actually film locations of our beloved Game of Thrones. What else! We started early that day and came back quite late, so we had more time on the way for ourselves. Be prepared for this country being really popular at the moment. You have to share the sites with many people. Torr Head & Torr Road There’s not much to say about the Torr Road other than the streets being really narrow and a necessary evil to reach the Torr Head. It branches of the Causeway Coastal Route and is closed for busses and campers. Torr Head is a small peninsula and the shortest distance to Scotland. With a clear view you can even see Scotland. It’s a really impressive and beautiful landscape. Carrickfergus Castle Not far from Carrickfergus City Center, there’s a castle built in the 12th century in Norman style. It’s located along the Antrim Road and is probably Ireland’s oldest castle. The Dark Hedges Some miles away from the coast, let’s say a little detour from the Coastal Route. The beech lane was planted in the 18th century and it really looks impressive. As it was really well visited, we decided not to spend too much time here. The best time to come might be early in the morning or in absolute low season. At least if you want to take good pictures (with no people in it). The Dark Hedges are famous for being film location for the King’s Road in Game of Thrones. Old Bushmills Distillery Making a guided tour, a tasting and then leaving happily. That’s at least how we imagined it. Unfortunately we found out too late you have to make sacrifice in main season when visiting one of the oldest Whiskey producers in the world. They offer everything but during this time there’s no production. Just FYI, the guided tour without all the action wasn’t interesting for us anymore. Dunluce Castle One of my favourites. On the one hand because the ruin thrones on a picturesque cliff, on the other side there’s the story/history: It was built around 1400 and was a strategically important base over the following centuries which are why there’ve been constant fights and intrigues all the time. In the middle of the 17th century, the castle was left and stood there. The would-be reason: In the middle of the 17th century the new kitchen fell into the sea including the employees. Oh my gosh! White Rocks Beach A beautiful beach surrounded by a white rock formation. And as we could see this place was really popular among locals in summer. I will never understand how people can call it a beach holiday with water temperatures this cold. But everyone seemed to be happy, the landscape was amazing and everyone was happy. Giant’s Causeway And last but not least: Northern Ireland’s most famous site – Giant’s Causeway. We arrived in the early afternoon at first but left again since all parking lots were full and the many busses scared the s… out of us. We came back in the late afternoon and it was definitely less crowded. Though there were still many people. But not so crazy anymore. There are approximately 40.000 basalt columns with an age of 60 million years. This is probably the reason for the Giant’s Causeway being UNESCO World Heritage since 1986. According to a Irish legend the Giant’s Causeway was built by a giant. More about it here! Jan had been here before and wasn’t very much surprised of this place’s beauty. I’ve seen pictures before and also read about it. But it was even more impressive seeing it with my own eyes. The really good weather and the beautiful light this day did their stint. Tip: Come early or in the late afternoon if you want to avoid the crowds. Don’t avoid it because it’s too touristy. P.S.: Of course, there are more sites to see on the Coastal Route. But for this, you have to plan more time. Or just set priorities like we did....
Northern Ireland – Part 1: Belfast!
15. August 2017
Well. For a few days, we’re back from our trip to Ireland. We stayed there for 10 days and added three more to head to Lake Garda. Just because we can and because we wanted it. But more about that later. A few years ago, Jan spent a semester abroad in Ireland and finally felt like going back again – this time with me. Having somewhat of a local with you is indeed an advantage. Jan had seen most of the places we’ve visited before. But there was luckily some new stuff for him, too. Our road trip started in Belfast. We came from Dublin with a rental car. It was only a two-hour drive. First Stop Belfast If at all, most people associate Belfast with the Troubles (the 1960s to 1998). At the moment, since the Good Friday Agreement, there’s a ceasefire. Which is good, because the city really seems to recover from the riots. Around one-third of Northern Ireland’s population lives in Belfast and besides on the Black Cab Tour, you really don’t notice the conflict when visiting the city. Black Taxi Tour This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do the Black Cab Tour. Quite the contrary. Personally, we think this was the most interesting thing the city has to offer. There are several providers. During this Black Taxi Tour with the famous black cabs, you drive through the protestant and catholic quarters and see the most important murals. It rained a lot that day and we couldn’t have done anything better anyway. The wall with its graffitis reminds a bit of the East Side Gallery in Berlin. They call them ‘Peace Walls’ or ‘Peace Lines’ in Northern Ireland. With these walls (and the barbed wires) the separation of certain quarters becomes visible. Though there’s peace, people feel safer this way, our driver said. He was there during the Troubles and told us everything about the history and the circumstances, back then as well as today. Either they’re all this good at story telling or our driver Brandon was a special talent at its job. I can’t imagine a better way to be informed about the conflict. The tour takes about 90 minutes and costs 30£. Queen’s University The Queen’s University was near our Airbnb. It’s really pretty. Especially compared to our former university (Regensburg). But I think most unis probably look better than ours. Cathedral Quarter The place to be if you want to drink one or two or more pints. Ideally, we were here on a Saturday evening and the atmosphere was really good. If you want to see a really stylish bar: it’s called the Crown Bar and it’s all in Victorian style. It’s not in the Cathedral Quarter but next to the Hotel Europa and the Grand Opera. It’s worth seeing and having a pint or two. Belfast City Hall The city hall is a pleasure to the eye from the inside and outside. It looks pompous. You can get inside and just look around. Titanic Quarter The city is really proud of its Titanic heritage. Most people know the Titanic was built in Belfast. There’s a whole quarter named after it and the museum is the most visited site of the city. Sadly there wasn’t time left for us to see it from inside. But it’s definitely an architectural pleasure....
Drinks in Frankfurt!
26. July 2017
After our ‚Where-to-eat‘ post, a ‘Where-to-drink’ post shouldn’t be missing. Just like probably any other city Frankfurt offers some great spots to have a drink. To begin with, we can definitely say that we don’t really like the ‘famous’ bar area in Sachsenhausen for different reasons. Therefore we chose a few bars (many with outdoor seating areas) that we personally like best in different parts of the city. The good thing: They are all in walking distance and even if not. Just take a cab! Logenhaus Bar Maybe our favourite one. You wouldn’t expect it from the outside but it’s really freaky inside with its amazing 1920’s style and the endless good cocktails. It’s a bit expensive but a must for cocktail lovers. It’s worth every penny. Bar ohne Namen Means ‘bar without name’. It’s located across the Eschenheimer Tor, a popular place all year long and with a relaxed atmosphere. You can’t go wrong with ‘Bar ohne Namen’. Waxy’s Irish Pub As the name says, an Irish Pub. Waxy’s is near the stock exchange and belongs somehow together with the Australian Bar next to it. We celebrated St. Patrick’s Day here and we’ll be doing this definitely again next year. Yok Yok Not a bar. It’s a little kiosk in the middle of the Bahnhofsviertel and people love buying their beer and hanging out on the street in front. It’s really popular as most alternatives in Frankfurt are way pricier. And it’s relaxed! Bootshaus Dreyer at the Main River An Äppler (apple wine) combined with a marvellous skyline view – or just drink something else. It’s a floating café, comfortable and only nice in summer. But then it really is. AMP Café Bar A nice location with good drinks right at the Gallusanlage in between the skyscrapers! Maincafé Just next to the floating boat on the mainland. It’s nice but just like the Bootshaus, it isn’t easy to get a seat in summer. Long Island Summer Lounge Actually, there’s nothing bad to say about rooftop bars ever. Long Island Summer Lounge is a cool place and you shouldn’t definitely pass by sometime in summer. Our personal opinion: less Champagne and less of a snob atmosphere but more relaxed spirit would make it even better. Fleming’s Deluxe After reaching the 7th floor of the Fleming Hotel via paternoster, you can enjoy delicious drinks with a nice skyline view. Also a bit expensive but worth it! Markets at the Stock Exchange and Friedberger Markt We recommend both. No bars but markets with wine stalls catering thirsty after work people. At least at the stock exchange. The Friedberger Markt is more frequented by students and families. It’s so popular in summer it’s hard to find some free space to sit down. Gerbermühle For everyone searching for a nice beer garden in summer, this is an option. We tend to make our beer garden visits when visiting our home in Bavaria. But for this one here combined with a little bike tour along the Main River we make an exception. Grüneburgpark Again, no bars, but amazing spots to enjoy a drink in summer. The Park-Café is in the middle of the park, next to the Korean Garden and offers a lovely seating area with views over the park. When you want to combine culture with drinks, the ‘Freilichtfestival’ (open air festival) of Dramatische Bühe is perfect for you. In July and August, there’s an open air theatre each year. Very relaxed atmosphere and good plays, just perfect! There’s hardly anything better on a beautiful summer evening in Frankfurt. What are your tips? Where do you go for a drink in Frankfurt? ...
Itinerary for one week in the northwest of France – Brittany and the Loire Valley
15. July 2017
As you seem to like the posts with our itineraries, here’s the latest one of our trip full of French clichés: delicious food and great wines, castles, idyllic landscapes and rough coast. The north-west of France is just perfect for a road trip. On top, there are no road tolls in Brittany; in the rest of France, they are extremely expensive! Our itinerary includes the following accommodations: 1. Château de Nazé near Saumur An amazing small castle near the town of Saumur: Château de Nazé. From here, we visited the castles of Chambord, Chenonceau and l’Islette. Furthermore the winery Château de Cheintres and, of course, Saumur. 2. Au bon Acceuil close to Mont-Saint-Michel We spent one night near Mont-Saint-Michel and visited it in the afternoon and again for sunset. Our accommodation, Au Bon Acceuil, is a nice old house; the rooms were quite small but perfect for spending just one night. On our way to Southern Brittany, we visited Cap Fréhel and Fort la Latte and later the Pink Granite Coast in Ploumanac’h. 3. Manoir de Kerangosquer near Pont-Aven What a great accommodation: Manoir de Kerangosquer is an old manor in southern Finistère near Pont-Aven. It’s located in a huge, beautiful park. The adjoining buildings were renovated and house modern and large rooms. From here, we visited Pointe de Pen-Hir, Concarneau, Belon (including Oyster Tasting), Port Menac’h, Kerdruc and, of course, Pont-Aven. 4. Atlantys Hotel Zenith in Nantes Before we had to fly back, we spent one night in Nantes. The Atlantys Hotel Zenith is a modern hotel in the suburbs of Nantes. Great value for money! Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to visit Nantes…well, next time! Datea by OpenStreetMap....