Venus & Ulysses 2004

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June 2004
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06/21/2004: "Island-Hopping"

We left Dublin and drove across the border into Northern Ireland which was marked only by the presence of a couple places to change money -- there were hardly even signs, let alone anything resembling a border crossing. The Antrim coast from Belfast north is exceptionally beautiful -- the road runs right along the sea, with green hills rising quickly upwards.

The next morning, we went on an eight-mile walk to the Giant's Causeway, and along the coast east of it. That stretch of coast has hexagonal basalt columns like Devil's Postpile National Monument all along it. The causeway is where the columns were cut off at the beach and you can walk out a hundred yards or so out onto the tops of them -- it's fascinating and beautiful. There are various legends involving Irish giants and Scottish giants, a complete causeway between Ireland and Scotland, which was torn up by one of them for one reason or another.

That evening we caught the ferry to the Isle of Man, a little island between Ireland and England. The people there struck us as somewhat inbred, but it's a pretty island otherwise, the usual farms and sheep and lighthouses and ancient stone crosses. It's where Manx cats are from, and we actually saw one at a garden we walked around. The flag is really cool -- it's a "trikon", three legs at 120-degree angles -- we got t-shirts featuring it. But the number one attraction of the Isle of Man is motorcyle racing -- the annual TT race had happened the week before we were there.

The ferry left the Isle of Man at 10:30 pm and arrived in Liverpool at 1 am. Yesterday we drove from there down to the south coast of England. We'd hoped to visit Stonehenge last night at the solstice, the only time it's opened to the public directly, but there was no one at our B&B and we had to find another place to stay. Today or tomorrow we'll go back there and observe it from a distance, and visit other sites in the area.