travel

Top Five Amazing Places to Visit in Ireland

As summer in Vancouver draws to a close, I chose to spend 10 days backpacking around Ireland (including Northern Ireland) on my own, hopping on buses and trains, and staying in hostels all over the island. Throughout my trip, I had the opportunity to visit so many incredible places – here are my top 5 amazing places to visit in Ireland!

5. Titanic Belfast, Belfast, UK

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Did you know? RMS Titanic was actually built in Belfast Ireland, as the second of three Olympic-class ocean liners. The tragic sinking of the ship in April 1912 was met with grief, shock, and outrage, but eventually led to many improvements in maritime regulations, some of which still exist today.

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The Titanic Belfast museum is a monument to Belfast’s maritime heritage, guiding visitors on a journey in learning more about the ship’s story, including the laborious building process, detailed interior decor, maiden voyage, underwater footage of the rediscovery, and Titanic’s final legacy. The museum is located on the site of the former Harland and Wolff’s shipyard in Belfast, with a display of the SS Nomadic just outside.

4. Blarney Castle, County Cork, Ireland

As I was sitting on the Irish Rail watching Ireland’s lush countryside pass by, occasionally, a castle would pop into view. In fact, there are dozens of castles sprinkled all across Ireland – Blarney Castle is one of them.

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Aside from the famous Blarney Stone, the castle grounds is full of little wonders tucked away in pockets. If you take a walk through the meandering paths, you will find beautiful gardens, waterfalls, secret caves, even an ice house and a poison garden.

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Pretty sure I already had the gift of gab before I planted my lips on that rock though…….

3. Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge, County Antrim, Northern Ireland

Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge was originally constructed for fisherman to reach the island and cast/check on their fish nets. Now, tourists challenge themselves to cross the the rope bridge simply just because of the exhilaration or satisfaction.

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To get to the rope bridge, however, there is a long footpath through the lush green countryside that follows along the coastline, giving you an absolutely stunning view of the cliffs.

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2. Giant’s Causeway, County Antrim, Northern Ireland 

The Giant’s Causeway is Northern Ireland’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site, made up of over 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, formed from an ancient volcanic eruption.

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Legend says that two giants, Fionn mac Cumhaill (Finn MacCool) from Ireland and Benandonner from Scotland, built the bridge between the two countries so they could battle each other. This story is likely inspired by the existence of identical basalt columns on the other side of the ocean at Fingal’s Cave on the Scottish isle of Staffa.

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1. Cliffs of Moher, County Clare, Ireland

Number one of my list is the incredible Cliffs of Moher, a natural wonder with history that stretches back thousands of years. You might recognize this spot from a film you’ve seen before, notably the 1973 classic film The Princess Bride, JK Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, or the romantic comedy Leap Year.

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Sure, it’s a giant tourist attraction complete with an overpriced visitor centre, but with good reason! Standing atop O’Brien’s Tower, seeing the rough, jagged cliffs, and the white waves crashing against them – I was absolutely floored.

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Into the sky! With Whistler Superfly Ziplines

When it comes to staycations in BC, I can imagine Whistler Blackcomb easily one of the top destinations, and not just in the winter! In the summer months, Whistler has a great variety of outdoor activities, including trail biking, sightseeing tours, jet boating, bungee jumping, horseback riding, ATV tours, white water rafting, and more.

My friend and I decided on Whistler as our destination of choice for a quick getaway trip from Vancouver. One of the activities we picked was ziplining with Superfly Ziplines. Sound like fun? Here’s our experience!

The zipline experience was estimated to be about 3 hours round trip. We opted to meet Superfly at their Whistler Village location, where their staff walked us over to their brightly coloured Superfly bus. Lucky for us – it was a gorgeous day, with plenty of sunshine and a hint of a breeze.

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Up, up, we went on the mountain, until we arrived at the Cougar Mountain Base, the hubbub of their activities, including the ziplines and Treetop Adventures.

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We met our guides William and Astrid, who welcomed us with a quick introduction, suited us up, and did a quick demonstration of what we were to expect on the zipline. We also learned William and Astrid’s funky monkey dance, which later become a common theme throughout our experience – their little dance indicated to us while flying through the air to prepare for the end of the zipline in the proper landing position.

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There was a group of 8 of us – my friend and I, a couple, and a family of four, including two kids. We hopped into a few ATV’s and continued our adventure higher up on the mountain.

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At the very top of the mountain, I have to admit, I was a little nervous. Looking down, it really was quite high up – our first zipline was the highest zipline in Canada! It was an incredible view point though, overlooking the forests below, with the mountains and blue skies in the background. My picture, unfortunately, does not do it proper justice. You’ll have to see it for yourself!

DSC09788 editAstrid was the first to fly down to the next base. Throughout the next few hours, William and Astrid were fantastic in coordinating with each other – one would strap us in, and double check our equipment was good to go, and the other would be at the other side to receive us with the funky monkey dance. Since the ziplines were tandem, the two kids from the family would often volunteer to be the first to zip down and race each other to the other side!

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There were 4 different ziplines, each with their own unique characteristics. For example, the first one was the highest, where as the third one was nicknamed Godzilla for the fastest. All four ziplines were tandem, with two lines right next to each other, but the fourth zipline was special – the two ziplines are actually close enough for a couple to hold hands on their way down.  Isn’t that sweet?

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Ziplining with Superfly was such an incredible experience, a mix of feeling intense adrenaline rushes while flying in the air, and a sense of peace and serenity trekking through the forest to our next location. Thanks to our guides William and Astrid, we felt safe, comfortable and taken care of throughout the whole journey.

And afterwards, we topped off our experience with delicious ice cream with none other than Cows in Whistler Village. Yum!

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For your next trip to Whistler, I would highly recommend including Superfly Ziplines as part of your itinerary for an unforgettable adventure!

Wanderlust.

I’ve been feeling a little down lately… seeing pictures on Facebook of friends all over the world, from as close to Okanagan and Victoria to as far as Budapest, Vienna, Prague, Denmark and Finland. Others who travel to Singapore, Australia, Costa Rica, Thailand, Ecuador, everywhere else but here.

It really sucks to feel so confined in the same place, without the time nor means to travel to places and really learn what the world is all about. For now…. as the Chinese proverb goes, I’m just a sad frog at the bottom of the well, with a small fragment of blue sky to inspire my never-ending daydreams.

One day…

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