Warm Up the Winter – the Northern Irish Way
Heck of a winter we’re having. Snow, sleet, hail – all make us want to hunker down in our jammies, in front of a fireplace while drinking something that warms our souls.
Forgo the instant hot cocoa mix and whip up a heart-warming hot toddy – a common libation in Northern Ireland, where cool, rainy days are common. The country is also home to the Bushmills whiskey factory, which claims to be the oldest licensed distillery in the world (1608.) The hot toddy can be made with 1.5 ounces of the bourbon, but if you want a taste first – simply take the factory tour in County Antrim. Over 100,000 imbibers visit annualy.
Stop by Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge and challenge yourself to walk across the scary, suspension walkway. The Glens of Antrim is an area of extraordinary natural beauty.
Giant’s Causeway is the most popular tourist attraction in Northern Ireland. There are many fantastical legends about the creation of this natural wonder. It’s been said that Finn McCool, considered the greatest leader of the Fianna, the military elite of ancient Ireland responsible for guarding the High King, was angry when hearing a Scottish giant was mocking his fighting ability. He throws a rock across the Irish Sea to Scotland and challenges the giant to throw a message in a rock back to him. Lump-slinging ensues, and one misses the Scottish giant, falls into the water and is now known as the Isle of Man.
More likely, however, is the magnificent formations were formed about 50 million years ago. Volcanic activity and rapidly cooling lava shaped these network of columns that jut out of the earth and sea.
When visiting this gorgeous country to the North, don’t forget capital Belfast. The second largest city in all of Ireland, Dublin has a direct rail line to here with eight trains daily. Belfast Central Station is a short 10-minute walk to city center, or with your train ticket – take the bus for free.
What to see? Choose from The Titanic’s Dock and Pumphouse, Belfast Castle, St. Anne’s Cathedral and City Hall. The city itself is small and compact, which makes for easy walking as you enjoy the Edwardian, Victorian and Georgian architecture.
And don’t forget to stop at a pub for a pint or even a hot toddy. You’ll make fast friends with everyone around you, who are happy to talk about their beautiful land, tumultuous past and prize-winning whiskey.
Northern Ireland will warm your heart and soul. Come drink it in.