, a prehistoric passage tomb in County Meath.
The society that built it was deeply spiritual and archaeologists were surprised to find in the 1960s that if you stood inside the tomb (no pictures allowed, unfortunately) on the winter solstice, sun would flow through a transom on the outside to completely illuminate the interior tomb, for just the one day a year. Our tour guide recreated it with a flashlight, and it was pretty darn cool.
We stayed in the swanky Europa Hotel, which was known during The Troubles, as "the most bombed hotel in the world." It was bombed 28 times, but miraculously survived and is lovely. I should know, because somehow I got either food poisoning or a horrible stomach bug and ended up spending hours on the floor of the bathroom, grateful it was good and clean.
Friends, let me just give these two bits of advice: 1) Airborne is no joke. Take it and save yourself. 2) If you still are afraid of getting sick, pack your favorite meds with you. I didn't think to pack Nyquil, but I learned the hard way that the Irish have no equivalent drug with the same power, and I wish I'd just stashed a bottle in case.
Titanic Belfast museum, but luckily, we were able to reschedule. The museum is really beautiful, and covers the ship, from inception to construction to launch to sinking. It's really well done, and will be such a boon for the city. For a former Titanic nerd like me, it was really cool to look out onto the slipway where the ship was built.
Bushmills Distillery, located on the same Bushmills village property where it first opened in 1608. It's still an impressively small operation, and every bottle comes from that factory.
We settled into our lovely B&B, Valley View B&B, and went for dinner in the neighboring seaside village of Port Ballintrae, where I saw one of the greatest sunsets of my life.
Giant's Causeway, an incredible basalt formation on the northern coast. It was like nothing I'd ever seen — hexagonal rocks jutting out of the ocean, easy to climb like stairs. Very cool.
Derry wasn't all dreary history, though. It was a chic and hip little city, very much rebuilding itself. I think the same could be said of most of Northern Ireland, which was haunting and romantic, with some of the most incredible landscapes I've ever seen.
Tomorrow: The West!