Trial and Error
Trip Start Dec 15, 2006
15Trip End Jan 05, 2007
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Tina was up first with me following close in second. It was already about 11:30am. We agreed that it would not be the day for our coastal drive to the Giant's Causeway as that was a road trip left for a day with many more hours available, and seeing as it starts getting dark at fourish, it would not leave us enough time to really see much of what the coast had to offer us. We thought it would be a good idea to hit a bank as the funds were running low, and maybe pick up some groceries in Larne. We lazed about, showering, eating breakfast and mucking around. By about 12:30pm, we were ready to walk out the door. Marc was rushing us out and I mentioned something about Larne. "Larne? We're driving up the coast today" he announced.I have to admit that by this time I was kind of sick of only one of us making all the decisions, and I had already conceded to a variety of other events and missed out on some things I had really wanted to see. I wasn't going to have it this time. I argued that three hours was not enough time to see what we had planned for an entire day's trip. There was that tension again. Bloody tension! I had sort of had enough of it as I imagine travels to always be happy ones, and so far in all my travels they had been. It was the attitude of if-we-don't-do-what I-prefer-to-do-then I'll-sulk-about-it-until-you-give-in. Nope. Nuh-uh. Wasn't going to happen. I wasn't giving in. This was the major attraction of the coast and I was damned if I was going to blow through it. I am not that type of traveler. One day is not really even enough to really experience the coast and all it had to offer.
So, that bloody tension rose. I pointed out that a drive through 6 of the Nine Glens of Antrim would make a nice drive for a few hours and that way we'd be seeing more then just the coast, and we could do the trip to the Giant's Causeway another day.
The Antrim Coast and Nine Glens are dominated by by tertiary basalts which formed a massive lava flow about 50-60 million years ago overlying other older sedimentary rocks including sandstone, shale and limestone. In the N.E. part of the area the basalt has eroded away and revealed silvery schists more then 300 million years old!! Created is a landscape of several contrasts with red sandstone, white limestone, black basalt and gray clays. The area is also characterised by a series of deep glens running east to the North Channel known as "The 9 Glens of Antrim" These were formed during the last ice age due to glaciation.
The unique geology of the area has created dramatic and varied coastal scenery. I was so struck by the similar feel Antrim reflected of the California coast, the Pacific Highway area specifically. Monterrey, Carmel-By-The-Sea, the "14 Mile Drive", heading south from San Francisco to San Diego, a trip that I will always remember for it's astonishing scenery. I had noticed a newspaper clipping in the reception area the night before comparing Big Sur in Cali to the Antrim Coast itself. Definitely similar until you walked into any establishment and the difference couldn't have been more evident!
The area is dominated by the Antrim Plateau rising over 500 metres and sliced by fast-flowing rivers to create a series of lush, green glens running east and N.E. towards the sea. We drove through Ballygally, north up the coast. The rain was falling hard and sideways Through Drumnagreagh we drove to the B97 and cut west on route to Glenarm, the Glen of the Army. Then back up on and east through Glencoy, the Glen of the Hedges.They don't call Ireland "The Emerald Isle" for nothing! The scenery was stunning. The land was lush, thick and green, like a carpet someone had decided to lay there.There were century-old ruins, castles, and sheep everywhere! The sheep-shagger jokes were flying!
Out of Glencoy we were back on the coast and heading north again. I think at this point we all realised the drive had been a good idea. We drove through Carnlough, Garron Point and Waterfoot. The ocean's swells were mesmorising. The rain was still beating down and the roads, at some points where we couldn't see much ahead were, at times, terrifyingly narrow!!! The branches at the roadside were scraping along the car at times with huge puddles coating us with water.
Into Glenariff, 'The Arable Glen", through luscious countryside passing small settlements, tractors, and even more sheep! In Glenballyeamon, "Edward's Glen" , we stopped for a refreshing pint at the "Wee Room". Though I have seen many images of Ireland and Northern Ireland in the past, to see it with my own eyes was something else. All the dry stone fences cutting through amazingly bright green landscape. It was very ethereal at times, dreamy and romantic.
On through Glanaan, "The Glen of the Colts Foot". and to Glencorp, 'The Glen of the Slaughtered". The history here runs deep, and it is quite fascinating. Too much to explain here for sure, but if interested, look it up and take it in. We drove to Cushendun and stopped to refuel once more with cold and frothy pints. Yum! For some reason the brew just tasted so much better here then in the city. Here we met some N. Irish farmers who had the same idea as us. They seemed quite bemused with us, and really, I have no problem being a source of entertainment. Everyone around these parts seems to have a friend or two in Toronto as so many Irish have emigrated to those parts over many, many years now. I'm kind of surprised no one asked if we knew 'Bob' from Canada!
I tried imagining how it would be to live in such secluded parts, far away from everything. How magnificent it must be to wake up to such scenery everyday, but also how tough life out here could be. I guess we all get complacent at times though and maybe some of this beauty was a little lost on some of the people who had lived here for so many years. We headed back to Ballygally direct, which only took about 40mns.
Truth be told, every since Barcelona it was extremely evident that our "travel styles" couldn't be more different. Jer and I are always hungry to explore and see our surroundings and meet locals, mixing that with appropriate downtime to get the yin and yang of things right for us. Marc and Tina seemed more bent on the downtime. They had been in Barcelona for 3 days a few years back and thought that was enough time to explore where I saw a week of Barcelona as barely scratching the surface. I could've spent alot more time. This is when I started thinking that in some ways I regretted all this jumping countries business. We wanted to go back to SEA and take them with us, but I was glad we didn't b/c I knew that there was no way they could live without their comforts. The point had come now where the relationship turned pretty much completely sour but we were still trying to keep it together. Pretty much a downer, but all you can do is make the best of a lousy situation.
We arrived at the apartments and called a taxi to take us to "The Meeting House', the local pub for some food and drink as we were really hungry by then. It seemed all the locals flocked here and it was evidently a very old meeting house with a resto-style area in the back which was pretty crowded when we got there but we managed the last seat! After food and a few drinks, we settled in for the live band. Jer was thrilled as he loves music! I made friends with fabulous Irish women who were having a family reunion at the pub. They were great! So much fun, or great craic as they'd say! We danced, we sang, we talked, and we danced some more! It was all hugs and beers! I was having a blast and so was Jer. He made quite the impression dancing it up with all the ladies! Sadly, we had to preorder a cab earlier as there were only 3 drivers that evening, so we were collected at about 1:30a. We all piled into the taxi, me in the front and the rest in the back. Jer was quite blind at this point as were Marc and Tina, but I kept being put off by drinking myself sober! I wasn't sober really, but not as gone as the rest!
After and hour or so at the flat, an argument ensued. At that moment, it all came rushing out and making nice was just not an option anymore. I finally blew up about the jabs in Belfast and things got kind of ugly. No one likes and argument, but sometimes you must stand up for yourself.
That was the end of all that. Jer and I packed up the next morning and took the last train into Belfast. We had arranged to stay back at Benedict's, a place we had completely enjoyed, and being the 30th, there was not much else option of places to stay as people had flocked to the city to celebrate New Year's Eve. We were welcomed back with open arms and it was the first time on the trip, save London, that I had really felt a true sense of relief and relaxation.
What happened was truly unfortunate. I think sometimes you can get to know people a little too well, a little too intimately, and you might not like what you see. It is definitely a different experience traveling with people you know from home. Compare it to friends who move into together. On one level a friendship can be the most gratifying thing ever, but take it to another level and it can all hit a landslide pretty damn quickly. I thought on whether or not I should even write about this, but it happened and that is reality. What happened happened, and it is something to look back on, learn from and move on. Trial and error.
Love to you all.