Shamrocker All Ireland Rocker Tour Day 1 – Ballintoy

Welcome to Ballintoy! This was home for the first night of our All Ireland Rocker Tour!!

Entering Ballintoy!

Ballintoy is a small village in Northern Ireland, on the Antrim Coast. Although it is small, with a population of under 200 residents, Ballintoy more than makes up for it with its friendly people and the gorgeous scenery. Earlier in the day, we went on a “wee” walk around the area (a couple hours), checking out the Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge and Ballintoy Harbour.

The Gorgeous Antrim Coast

While walking along the coastline, we could turn back and spot the main street of Ballintoy. We could even spot the pink tractor that stands in front of our hostel!

Ballintoy and the rolling green fields – love!

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Our hostel was aptly named – Sheep Island View Hostel. And here is Sheep Island, which you can see from the hostel! It is said that residents used to ferry their sheep over to this island to keep them safe from thieves.

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Sheep Island!

The hostel is run by a lovely local family, who were always happy to chat with us visitors. You really can’t miss the hostel when you are driving through Ballintoy. Just watch for the bright pink tractor!

Our group was housed in separate male and female dorm rooms. We thought we would be assigned to our respective rooms, but, as with the rest of our Shamrocker trip, you get to pick your own rooms. This was good, in that you can choose your own room mates for the night. However, it did take some time and organizing – particularly since different hostels had different number of beds per room. So at each hostel, we would gather all together and sort ourselves out in to the correct numbers of people per room and then check in. Our room at Sheep Island View Hostel had 12 beds – both bunk beds and single beds. As our tour guide Dave pointed out, the hostel is really good, clean and comfortable, but could make do with an extra bathroom! Our group was really good though – some showered in the morning and some in the evening, so it made the process much faster. It helps when you have cooperative trip mates! 🙂

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After our coastal walk and a freshening up at the hostel, 6 of us headed off for a meal together! Usually choosing a restaurant for dinner can be quite difficult when you are with a group. But in Ballintoy, our choice was made easier because there were only 2 restaurants on the main street – the Fullerton Arms Restaurant and the Carrick-A-Rede Bar and Grill. We decided to go with the Fullerton Arms Restaurant.

Ballintoy’s Main Street with the Fullerton Arms Restaurant

We were only a table of 6 but because it was a small restaurant, we had a bit of a wait. So we grabbed a drink at the restaurant bar next door and chatted with our trip mates while waiting for a table to be ready. (I asked to pour my own Guinness but unfortunately the answer was no 😦 )

We were pleasantly surprised when we walked into the restaurant. It was well decorated, plush, cozy and looked like a restaurant in a much bigger city! It also had a little alcove dedicated to Game of Thrones – complete with armour, quotes on the wall and a replica “Iron Throne!” Pretty cool – even if I don’t watch the show!

We didn’t have much expectations for the food, thinking it would be typical bar food in a village of two restaurants. Boy, were we ever wrong! The food we had was delicious and definitely could have rivalled restaurants in bigger cities! The food was fresh, tasty and plated up nicely. Besides that it was decent priced for the caliber of food we received!

I had the sea bass with vegetables and potatoes – tasty and filling! 🙂

I believe this was: “Lemon and Lime Baked Seabass – with potatoes and vegetables medley.”

Ioana had the Steak and Guinness Pie – such a light and airy version, delicious!

After our lovely dinner, we wandered over to the Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge Bar, where some of our group had gathered already. Our drinks of choice? Since we were in Ireland, Guinness and Jameson with gingerale. Sláinte!

We forgot the lime 😦

We were excited to listen to some lively traditional music in the pub. Pretty soon we noticed something wasn’t right… Let’s just say the two musicians were a little “off” that night. Later we found out that the lead singer had a gig somewhere else and the remaining two just weren’t the same without their leader. Luckily our bus driver Fred saved the night – taking a guitar and singing us some songs. That quickly woke up the pub and we were all clapping along! It was a great night – getting to know each other, comparing travel plans and swapping stories. There may have even been some attempts at Irish Dancing…… It was a fun night and a great start to our All Ireland Rocker Tour!

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Review: We really loved our time in Ballintoy. It was one of our favourite stops in Ireland – quaint, quiet, friendly and beautiful. You almost feel like you are in another decade, in a simpler time. And I really liked that! The gorgeous scenery just adds to the draw of this village. Ballintoy is also a good location for a home base while exploring the Antrim Coast. Besides being close to Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge and Ballintoy Harbour, Ballintoy is also close to the Dark Hedges, Giant’s Causeway, Bushmills, Portrush, Rathlin Island and Ballycastle. So it makes sense to situate yourself here and make day trips out to the surrounding area. Saves you from having to pack and unpack daily!

Ballintoy is also on the Causeway Coastal Route, winding through picturesque towns and villages along the North Coast from Belfast to Derry (Londonderry). The Causeway Coastal Route is rated to be one of the top road trips in Europe. So I think a road trip is in order! If you’re planning a road trip, here are some itineraries from Tourism Ireland and Northern Ireland Tourist Board. Ballintoy and the Antrim Coast are definitely worth a stop, if you’re in Northern Ireland! 

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Day 2 takes us to a very famous Antrim Coast stop – Giant’s Causeway!

From Vancouver with Love,

Ioana and Natalie
LettersofWanderlust3


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