‘Lack of money is no obstacle. Lack of an idea is an obstacle.’
Now, we’re not sure if the American inventor Ken Hakuta was referring to a holiday in Ireland when he coined this charming little phrase but it certainly gave us food for thought.
You see, the last thing we want is for a modestly-stocked wallet to stop anyone from seeing Ireland. So it is, with means on our minds and moths in our wallet, that we have decided to start a ‘Budget Bonanza’ series and bring you on a mini tour of the island that won’t cost you an arm, a leg or anything you might miss. First up in our series is a frugal foray into Northern Ireland where mythical stone circles, shipwrecked relics and gorgeous glens are all on the bill. Well, so to speak.
When you’re travelling with, let’s say, restricted finances, the following six words are worth their weight in gold – ‘Admission to the Museum is free’. Before you’re even inside you’re onto a winner – the façade of the museum is as attractive as any in the world meshing clean-cut classical architecture with a dash of modern styling. Long story short – it looks cool and it’s host to historical treasures like a Gold and Ruby Salamander pendant taken from the wreck of the Spanish Armada and a brutally cracked helmet from the Norman invasions in the 12th century. Not to mention an Egyptian Mummy. You’ll get a similarly fascinating and free historical and cultural experience at the Armagh County Museum in Armagh City (make sure to view Belfast man William Conor’s realist works – stunning).
While in Belfast decadent and hungry travellers can hit that spot with a slice of heavenly baking at the Little Cupcake Café where a sugary treat can be yours for just £2. Yummy bargains…
Amount spent so far: All of that culture, history and archeological gems come to the charming sum of – £0. If you indulged your sweet tooth, then £2. Sorry, did someone say holidays in Ireland are expensive? Thought not….
So far our wallet remains almost untouched and we have been enlightened both culturally, historically and sweetly. Now it’s time to get physical. Off we potter to the oh-so-green Antrim Hills.
The Glens of Antrim and Causeway Coast
Thankfully Mother Nature has never charged for those green and glorious gifts she has rained down on Ireland. On the contrary she has been quite the spendthrift, which means that the island of Ireland’s cup runneth o’er with scenic walking routes. Arguably the most dramatic among them is the Causeway Coast Way skirting along Antrim’s dreamy coast and taking in the basalt beauty that is the Giant’s Causeway, the sumptuously crumbly Dunluce Castle and the knee-jangling Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. This is a thumper at 53 kilometres but we can guarantee every step is worth it.
Amount spent so far: £6.50 if you crossed the Carrick-a-rede bridge, but a well stocked picnic will shave costs off the day! It’s time for lunch and there’s little getting around paying for food unless you’re here long enough to buy land, plant a vegetable garden and farm animals. May we suggest eating as the locals eat…
The Ulster Fry
Northern Ireland, as many of you will already know, is famed for its behemoth breakfast – the Ulster Fry. This is the kind of grub that would make a Spartan weep, and boasts at its most extravagant, (deep breath…) sausages, bacon, black pudding, white pudding, potato farls, potato bread, fried tomato, fried/scrambled eggs, chips all washed down with a steaming mug of tea. If it’s a mouthful to say you can only imagine what it’s like to eat – delicious. An Ulster Fry then is the kind of breakfast that will have you forget about lunch, dinner and whatever potential meal crosses your path over the next 24 hours.
I’m no archeologist but like to think that the ancient chaps who assembled the fascinatingly mystical Beaghmore Stones in County Tyrone had a similar breakfast when they began work on this outdoor oddity.
And of course, to feast your eyes on this fine work will cost not a red cent. Which brings us back to our promise that your wallet will not be bothered by Northern Ireland’s stunning landscapes and historical treasures, and you can be fed and watered for a few gold coins.
And getting to our little island for free? We admit, you’d want to have practiced your breaststroke…