Link to photo dump.
The coast of Northern Ireland from Belfast to Giant's Causeway (which will be the subject of tomorrow's post) is some of the most spectacularly beautiful land I've ever had the pleasure to see. Between the rocky coastline, the cliffs, the emerald farms, the stone walls, the random ruins, the quaint little towns--it's all just stunning.
As if that weren't enough, the day we made this drive gave us maybe the most photographically interesting weather, rapidly shifting back and forth between sunny bright and darkly overcast, making for what I think is a really lovely range of lighting--plus a bunch of dramatic clouds being all dramatic--in the final shots I captured.
Now for a few specifics:
These roads were made a long time before anybody thought of using them for large tour buses. I was in the front seat, so was in a position to grab this quick shot of one of the tunnels we had to squeeze through, complete with the reflection in the windshield of Roger, our great driver (who was probably a bit white-knuckled at this exact moment).
Also on board was our excellent local tour guide, who was fascinating in every way. He's a native speaker of Gaellic, with English as a second language, which gives him an accent unlike any I've heard before. He also has a history of having spent several years in prison in his youth for his separatist, anti-British political activities. As you might imagine, he had some impassioned views and intriguing insights about the whole history of "the troubles." We got to listen to him all day, and it still wasn't enough for me. (And, of course, I remember everything about him except his name, to my great shame. EDIT: Eugene! See comments.) Standing on the coach with him is Hannah, one of our tour leaders.
This is the famous Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. If you open it in a new tab and look at it full size, you can probably see a few brave souls walking across it. I was not one of them, and never will be. I trust that it is now structurally sound and won't plunge me to my death in the icy waters of the North Atlantic, but I would not enjoy the fear the journey would induce. I'm already sufficiently aware of my own mortality, thankyouverymuch.
But maybe that's a little too much crop, so I tried this halfway version:
Which one do you like best?
Oh, and there's another little visual quiz hidden in today's post. The first 11 pictures (i.e., all of the ones before I started chatting about separate shots) share an unusual photographic feature or technique. Did I take them with my cell phone camera instead of my good camera? Did I steal them from web sites without attribution? Did I actually take them in South America, and lie about them being on the Irish coast? OK, it's not any of those, but it is something. Can you guess what the secret is? I'll put the answer in the first comment.
If you want another hint, go to the "photo dump" link above and look at the same pictures there, clicking on the "photo details" button. The data the camera embeds when it takes the photo provides another hint, though it's kind of subtle.