As soon as we stepped off the tour bus, our guide apologized. “We don’t normally have weather like this,” He said. “It’s usually so foggy you can’t see four feet in front of you.” The forty of us, all high school students from Florida and Ohio on our People to People student ambassador trip, practically leapt out of the coach bus we had been stuck in for several hours. Stepping through the visitors entrance, my friends and I walked down the long path to the beach. Large rock formations, one shaped like a camel and another like a dog, were at one side while an impressive cliff face dominated our sight line from the right. However, what really made us stop in out tracks and whip out our cameras were the giant pillars of stone supposedly created by an Irish giant hundreds of years ago.
The Giant’s Causeway in County Antrim, Northern Ireland was the most beautiful place I had been on my trip of the UK back in 2013. Stone rose above me in natural recreations of skyscrapers. A stair case had been organically created on the side of the massive structure, and how were we supposed to resist that? Jumping from pillar to pillar, our group ascended the Causeway, climbing it like it was some sort of colossal jungle gym. We bet each other to see who could climb the highest pillar or who could get closest to the ocean without our group leaders catching us. With the locals and tourists, we explored the rocks which were almost identical to each other in shape. One could be as high as six feet up from another, or they could be so closely clustered that your could step up the architecture with ease.
Our tour guide told us fables of the giant who had supposedly created the Causeway, Finn MacCool, and how the basalt columns were originally a bridge made by Finn so he could travel to Scotland and battle with the giant Benandonner. However, as soon as Finn saw how much stronger and bigger Benandonner was than he, Finn raced back to Ireland, destroying the bridge he had created by throwing rocks into the ocean with his earth shattering footsteps. In his hasty retreat, he even lost a shoe which became solidified in rock on the beach.
The Giant’s Causeway, even when it was teeming with tourists, still held some ancient magic for me. Being able to climb the columns that were part of a fantastic legend almost made me feel like I had become part of the story. Staring out over the ocean from the top of the stone spires made me feel like I could do anything, even challenge Benandonner and come out victorious! But, for the time being, I would be satisfied with the insight that I had climbed the highest of all my friends and knowing that our adventures in such a wonderful and wonder filled country were only just beginning.
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