Sunshine that feels as though the world is telling you to live. Bright green fields and farms that you can’t get away from. And Helen, who has been by my side since day one, venturing into alleyways and trying to decipher Gaelic messages. Small town pubs where locals sit and watch the football game or talk about their families. The smell of Guinness and stew is thick, as Helen and I sit down to have lunch with the rest of our delegation.
It’s the first day. The first day where I visit the place I plan to retire to. It’s loud, partly because of 38 teenagers, but also because of local men watching the World Cup. Helen’s busy watching the game and becoming heated just like the old men, but me, I am gazing out of the window into the most beautiful drop-off. A drop-off that leads to one of the most amazing rides in my life.
A two hour boat ride accompanied by a two hour carriage ride that leaves you kind of smelly but more alive. Down the gap that reveals divine natural lakes and cottage homes with yards filled with sheep. A place where I could be alone and it wouldn’t bother me because I was surrounded by all of these beautiful views. Under the mountains, across the river, and up the hill where I fell into a sticker bush, lies the Gap of Dunloe.
QUARTER-FINALIST 2015 FTF TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP
Dark clouds, misty rain, wind chills, and fog: things that aren’t associated with good days…but to me they are. A place where loneliness doesn’t matter, nor bothers you. Somewhere that feels more like home than living with your own parents. Looking down into that giant blue pool whose depth is unknown, I felt utter peace, enough peace that I thought if I jumped, something would catch me. Hills that stretch far below and high above and covered with piercing green shrubbery. Cliffs with jagged edges and abrupt endings that are so painstakingly beautiful that you pause and take a deep breath to try and absorb everything around you, from the crimson red wildflowers to the old rock-based Viking’s boathouse that’s across the other cliff.
I inhaled the salty ocean air as we made our way across the two mile gap that took us to our destination. At first it was a bit blurry to see, but as we become closer and closer, it becomes bigger and longer. And finally, we arrived at it’s mouth and I become a bit nervous. Because at 66 feet long and 98 feet above the ground, I had to muster up all my strength just to cross it. A rope bridge. Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge to be exact.
I was so scared but excited at the same time, I hate heights, but Helen was behind me and she would have never let me live it down if I hadn’t of crossed this bridge. As the front of our group starts to move I felt all my courage melt away. I took one step onto the platform as the guys in front of me started to rock the bridge and the skies gave way to rain. I took another step onto the bridge a discovered that it wasn’t as bad as I thought is was going to be. I looked down and see the clearest, blue water I’ll ever see in my life. I was in awe. As I stepped onto the other platform, the rain stops and I realized that I made it to the other side without the bridge collapsing. I turned around and gave Helen a thumbs up and followed the guide to the top of the hill where the view was even better than back on the mainland. I felt so serene.
I was just standing there on top of this huge cliff in the middle of the ocean where Vikings and Celts had inhabited thousands of years before. I became so aware of everything, like the cliffs in distant fog and the never ending ocean horizon. I had made it, to a little place called Antrim where I’m almost certain my life lies.