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Spending some days in scenic Ballycastle

The old friary in the afternoon sun

Ballycastle is clearly a popular Summer tourist destination and as soon as we arrived here, we got the Spring feeling. The promenade has several ice cream shops and bars and when the sun is out it is suddenley full of life.

Coming into the harbour can be a little dramatic as the Atlantic swells easily get quite big. To get into the harbour you have to do a sharp turn around the break water, but as soon as you have turned the corner, the inner harbour is nice and calm.

Visiting Giants Causeway

We had to take a trip to Giant’s Causeway as this World Heritage site looks absolutely amazing. The day we went, the sun was shining but the wind was quite strong from the North (Also the reason we were not sailing) and it was a perfect for getting this experience. The waves were dramatically hitting the interlocking basalt hexagonal columns and the sunshine was landing beautifully on the dramatic cliffs in the background.

As we are still outside of tourist season, the area was not too crowded, but it was easy to imagine how it must be in the tourist season, which would probably take a bit away from the amazing experience.

All around Ballycastle it is possible to find Game of Thrones (GOT) filming spots and on the bus trip to the Giant’s Causeway it is almost possible to spot some (we think).

Walking around Ballycastle

We decided to walk towards the GOT cliff Fair Head, which is a very pretty walk along the water. At some point we came to the end of the paved road and started following the narrow cliffside pathway, which was a very mixed and at some places was a muddy experience, but also very beautiful. Unfortunately we couldn’t get all the way to Fair Head.

On the way back we went by the Bonamargy Friary Graveyard, which was a very special and surprisingly touching visit as it is very well preserved and dates back to the 16th century. Around it, graveyards are standing from many different centuries and it is quite interesting to walk and read the inscriptions, that in some cases add more family members until there is no more room on the stone.

There are many places to visit in this area, but unfortunately we cannot do everything.

Tourist traps and fantastic bread

We really like to eat out and try the different places in the towns we visit and Ballycastle has been a strange mix. We will start at the bottom,

Marconi’s Bar & Bistro

When we arrived at Ballycastle Marconi’s at the Marine Hotel was completely shut and it looked like it would not be opened for months, but then on Friday March 1st it was a fully furnitured and opened the restaurant, which looked very nice.

We decided to go there for a Saturday night meal and probably should have given them a little longer before trying it out. The whole place smelled strongly of paint, which was not the nicest thing to eat in. We decided on 2 glasses of 250ml white wine as a bottle (750ml) was strangely more expensive than 3 250ml glasses🤔. Sarah ordered mushroom linguini and Steve had salmon rarebits and fries. Steves food was fine, but Sarah first found one long hair in her mixed into her pasta and then another one, so she decided to send it back. Instead she has the tempura cauliflower which was terrible. Mostly dough and with chilli flakes on top and a very strong chili dip on the side. It really didn’t taste good and she had to leave behind the most of it and went back to the boat and made a toast.

Costa coffee

We decided to give the hotel a second chance by having a coffee at Costa coffee located in their entrance, but this did not help on our experience. When ordering 5-6 people working there were completely ignoring that we tried to buy a coffee and the poor person in charge had to tell them to serve the people and not talk to each other. The coffee we had was mostly milk (though we asked for a small cappuccino with a double shot espresso) and not well made. It was too warm, had big air bubbles in and just didn’t taste well.

Thyme and Co

We almost didn’t visit this little café because we were so excited by the bread in Ursa Minor, but Thyme & Co is well worth a visit. They also make really nice bread. Steve had the eggs on toast while Sarah had chickpea pastry with a very good chickpea salad. The service in this café was very friendly and personal. We were very happy that we tried it.

Delicious slow baked bread

We went to Ursa Minor two days in a row because the bread and coffee was just amazing. It is a really cosy cafe and they realy know how to bake. The service was not the best as they seemed a little annoyed when we were trying to pick a cake, but bread and coffee made us forget that for a while.

Old traditional bar

Friday night we went for a pint at House of McDonnell and this place is so charming with little nooks and a beer garden, that made us want to come back when the Summer comes. In one of the nooks four guys had brought instruments and were playing traditional Irish music.

The most popular fish & chips shop

We had to try the fish & chips at Morton’s as Steve had never seen a chippie with such a long line. And after a 20 minutes wait we could bring it back to the boat. It was a very good idea to try it as the fish was very crispy and not greasy and tasted really good. Sarah has almost learned to eat the popular dish now, but definitely have to share it as it is just a very big meal otherwise.

We noticed something very unusual in Ireland, which is putting pictures in the windows of abandoned houses, so they look less abandoned.

It looks very realistic and a little scary when you walk by them, as the houses often look like they are falling apart, but then you think there is someone in the window. We call this the big Irish cover up.

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