Tuesday 11 July 2017

A weekend in Northern Ireland and tips on Travel with Airmiles

I flew with Easy Jet from Birmingham airport for £71 return. If you're not bothered about the dates you travel, you can get some good deals with flights. I picked a Saturday morning, returning on a Tuesday evening. Easy Jet get a lot of bad publicity with seating, flights being over booked and additional costs such as boarding passes not being printed off. But their T&C's are very clear on their website and I've not had any problems with them at all.

I downloaded the boarding passes on the app, but if you can't do that and don't have access to a printer you can get the passes printed at your local newspaper office or library via email.

I used the Easy Jet website to search for parking and discovered Purple Parking. They offered 4 days secure parking for £23, quite a few miles north of the airport, but with a free shuttle bus and operational 24 hours. My other option was to park at family house, just as far out and get a taxi both ways at £24 for each journey. I'll be using Purple Parking again and they offer this service at many locations around the country.

I used booking.com to reserve accommodation in Northern Ireland, using my credit card to secure the booking and paying by either cash or card on departure. Booking.com offer free cancellation and re booking, T&C's apply.

I booked all the above via Air miles Middle East and used my HSBC credit card to get double air miles. I flew to the UK from Dubai with air miles with Turkish Airlines, 3 flights for under £200.

I didn't need car hire in Northern Ireland as I was visiting my son, but car hire was available with Rental Cars, again via air miles and we always use the website when we're visiting the UK as they offer a full and comprehensive package to include full protection. If we had an accident or there was any damage to the vehicle they guarantee to refund the full deposit that we have to pay when collecting the car and when we did have a problem with a car hire company, they sorted the issue out for us on our behalf.

The purpose of the visit was to spend time with my son before he was deployed and to meet his girlfriend and her family. There was plenty of time to see the see the major sites and to relax in the accommodation I'd booked.

I had a delightful stay at Clenaghans. Self catering accommodation converted from old farm buildings, each property is unique, I had a kitchen/lounge fully equipped and included TV, wifi and basic food supplies for the duration of my stay. Upstairs was a bedroom with ensuite. Located 25 minutes from Belfast Airport and 2 miles from the nearest village of Moira. You would need transport or could walk the short distance to the train station, but I'd recommend using the local taxi firm, as the country lanes are narrow.

Places to visit:
Belfast and surrounding areas.
A trip into Belfast and surrounding areas is possible in one day. Belfast isn't a big city, but it mixed the old and the new together, well. We wandered around the shops, grabbed lunch, a coffee, climbed the stairs in Victoria Square to Dome View Point (a lift is available) to view the city and visited the City Hall, where I dressed up as Mayor.

We drove up to Stormont for a quick look at the Parliament buildings and a walk round the gardens.

Drove down Newtownards to take photos of the murals.

The North Coast.
I've never seen Game of Thrones and no more Jon Snow jokes please, I don't get them either. As far as I'm concerned Jon Snow is the guy with the swing o'meter who pops up during elections. There were dedicated tour buses for the route we followed.

Carrick-a-rede. A National Trust Property.
You need to book a time slot to access the rope bridge and go over to the Island, wear sturdy footwear and be prepared to get out of breath. Dogs are welcome, but not on the Island and there's a small cafe and gift shop as well as well kept toilets in the car park.

Dark Hedges.
No entry fee, available via self drive or on a coach trip, don't expect to get a photo like you see in the brouchers, as it's full of coaches and tourists, the lane is narrow with a few places to pull over and park, but if you drive past, there is a car park on the left hand side with easy access to walk from.

Giant's Causeway. A National Trust Property.
Plenty of parking, a gift shop, information centre and cafe, as well as well kept toilet and a small bus for an additional charge if you don't fancy the walk to the causeway. Do keep away from the edge, you will get wet. It's not as big as I'd thought from the photo's I'd seen, but make sure you walk round the back of the rocks to take a look at the full height.

A typical coastal town, harbour, fun fair, souvenir shops and way too many chip shops to mention.

There are plenty of places left to visit and I will be back over in March 2018. On my 'to do list' is the Big Red Bus tour, the Titanic Museum, The wetlands and nature reserves, Botanical Gardens, visit Bushmills Distillery and a million and one other things I'm sure I'll find out about before then. Feel free to add to the list.

This post was not sponsored, I paid for all travel, accommodation and activities (well my husband did, I don't work) food, coffee and chocolate was paid for by child 4.

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