We boarded a bus at the port in Belfast and rode towards Donaghadee (Ireland). The countryside was, of course, green, and we passed through a number of small villages along the way. We learned that farming and agriculture are still important in this part of Ireland, which is part of Northern Ireland and so still part of England. We passed the Coonswater(?) River, and were told a clan used to live in the hills and would attack ships sailing by for their booty. We also learned that George Best was a famous soccer player here but died young because of his love of wine and women. We also learned many places in the area are named Victoria in honor of Queen Victoria.
We stopped at Gray Abbott, which was built by the daughter of a Norse King to fulfill a promise to God after she survived a storm at Sea. I loved this Abbott, which was essentially a towering ruin. It was built in the 12th Century, but was abandoned following wars in the 15th Century and destroyed (burned) in the 15th Century to avoid it being used as a fort/shelter by enemies.
We rode into Donaghadee, a seaside village. I had amazing chocolate fudge ice cream at Maud’s ice cream, mailed postcards to my son R and stopped at the local inn for an Irish Coffee. The ice cream, coffee and fries were delicious, but my favorite part about this village was how exceptionally friendly the people were. I was also teased by daughter L for saying it was the best ice cream I’ve ever had, which I am told is an oft repeated phrase when I am eating ice cream in Europe.
We also passed through Bangor Bay, where 200 ships were housed the day before D-Day in World War 2.
Other notes: salt mines are in Belfast and go several miles out into the sea, a rock quarry was closed because it did too much damage to the land, C.S. Lewis was born to a minister father in Belfast, a fjord’s name here is translated as “Strange Noise Fjord” because the incoming tide makes a strange noise, there are some palm trees in Ireland since the land had palm trees prior to the last land mass breaking apart millions of years ago, spring is beatiful here because of the wild flowers and blue bells, #1 crop is not potatoes but grass (for livestock), and a nickname is Jewish Farm since originally children fleeing Hitler were taken in (after being declined by the US and Cuba) and distributed to local farms before many immigrated to Israel (many as orphans since there parents were killed by the Nazis) after the war. Finally, if I remember correctly Saving Private Ryan’s Omaha Beach scene was filmed in Ireland and after seeing the beaches I can see why (the grassy hills leading to long beaches are not unlike Omaha).
This was a wonderful day.