Freshly out of my second year at university, and following recent developments in my life, I took a spontaneous trip to Ireland with my friend from home during the summer. Planned ten days in advance of our departure, we chose to explore Dublin, drink Guinness, but most importantly, take a trip up north to the Giant’s Causeway, which was one of the main attractions I felt towards Ireland.
Having booked the wrong day at first, setting me back £80, we embarked on our tour not really knowing what we would find. Prior to the Causeway, we were taken through the beautiful Northern Irish countryside, past ruins of castles and rolling fields, to eventually arrive at the Causeway in high spirits following a good day thus far.
With our hopes restored, and after a long walk down to the coast, we were surprised to then be disappointed with what we found. I vividly recall an episode of The Simpsons, in which they go to Ireland and visit the Giant’s Causeway, which established an image in my mind of the sight I was there to witness. My mind painted it as a staggeringly high and expansive natural wonder, extending for miles round the coast and the waves battering into the rocks. I expected the Giant’s Causeway to be, for the sake of irony, giant.
Instead, we found a smaller, underwhelming formation. Not only was it a reduced and a less impressive sight than my naive self had imagined, but it was also horrendously overcrowded. There were long queues to get round certain parts of the rocks, and there was always somebody sat at the tallest point with the best view, guarding it with their life as if it was the top of the climbing frame in a children’s playground. A massive tourist group moved obnoxiously in a flock around the area trying to snap the best shots with a clear lack of regard for others, and I witnessed one young man falling off one of the pillars trying to move out of their way. There is a clear safety hazard to having hundreds of people on an already unstable and dangerous piece of land. Selfish enjoyment reasons aside, there needs to be a reform of some sort that restricts the number of visitors at a given time.
Despite all of this negativity, however, the views of the hills and sea were breathtaking. Looking out over the sea, the Scottish islands were visible, and the weather was gorgeous on the day we went. The Causeway itself, albeit underwhelming, is still a spectacular natural structure, and I am glad I visited it. Climbing from pillar to pillar made me feel like a child again, and I did get some cool photos. I only wish, however, for there to have been less people obstructing my view of the landmark I was there to experience, and because of this, the visit served as a stark reminder that the travel industry is full of realities that do not always match the image that it builds up in our minds.