There Be Giants Here

  • Day 22, Voyage of the Vikings 2019
  • Tuesday, Aug. 20, Belfast, United Kingdom

My sisters thought it might be two-football fields length to walk to the Giant’s Causeway from the visitor’s center. I would say closer to a mile each way. We might have taken different routes. But whatever, it was well worth the walk.

Legend has it that the mighty giant Finn McCool carved out these steps in the sea to connect Ireland to Scotland. Scientists say the basalt columns are the result of intense volcanic and geological activity. Whichever story you believe, the tall slender geometric columns rising from the surf are a playground for all ages.

When we arrived in the early afternoon the path and one-lane road was filled with people of all ages. Every few minutes we would move aside for the shuttle, available for just £1 (a little more than a dollar) each way. I had thought that I would take the shuttle for the return uphill trip, but rather than join the line I hit the path for a little more exercise.

On the way there I stopped on perhaps the only bench to sketch the scene from a distance. There were dots of color everywhere, each representing a person exploring the geological formations. The children scurried around, urged to be careful by their parents. Some tourists had their dogs on leashes, and others had their grandmothers along.

One hour at Giant’s Causeway seemed short after nearly three hours on the bus getting there. From Belfast we drove to the coast and followed the two-land road north. In Carnlough Harbour we stopped to see the Game of Thrones location where Arya Stark escaped the Waif and climbed the steps from the water into the streets of Braavos (season 6, episode 7).

Passengers on the right side of the bus had stunning views of the coast. Alas, I was on the left side, where I saw lots of sheep and the occasional old castle. Our driver/guide identified salmon fisheries, historic sites and the many glens that we passed.

Our day started in Belfast at the Titanic Museum. The “unsinkable” ship was built in Belfast by thousands of workers who cheered on with pride as their creation was launched.

The museum takes you through the city’s history, the shipyards (with an amusement-park quality ride exploring the building of the Titanic), the passengers and crew of the first and fatal voyage, the disaster itself, the rescues and the eventual discovery of the ship remains on the ocean floor.


Tonight the StepONE Dance Company stole the show. It’s a six-person dance troupe that tours Holland America ships exclusively. They blend high-energy dancing with technology, and the “Humanity” show tonight used light projection to enhance the dances.

I hear mixed opinions from fellow passengers about the changes in Holland America’s evening shows. The company has eliminated the singers and dancers who put on Broadway-style revues every few nights accompanied by a live band. Now we have a rotating cast of visiting entertainers – singers, comedians, magicians, and instrumentalists – of varying quality.

Tonight’s show was the best so far. I missed seeing Irish performers a few nights ago – 30 minutes before the single show there wasn’t a seat to be found. Many nights I miss the show – we’re still at dinner during the 7:30 p.m. show, and by the 9:30 show I’m likely to doze off.