How do I explain this…. Ok, maybe it’s best that I explain what happened.
I left in the morning from The Gobbins and headed to Giants Causeway but after a minor hiccup earlier that morning that burned about two hours of my day, I finally reached the Dark Hedges.
I’ve seen so many iconic pictures of the Dark Hedges that I thought it would be easy to drive on the road and under the trees, but after seeing a ‘road closed’ sign and a couple hundred people, I went from “Oh hell yeah!” to “Oh, hell no!” within a matter of seconds.
It didn’t matter that it was early in the morning. The tour busses were unloading their flocks onto the roads as the tourists were getting their most creative social media selfies.
I had a bit of a wander around and decided that it was best to continue onto the Giants Causeway – This was the very first and closest stop to all the ‘cool things’ I was going to see today.
I weaved up and down the country roads and finally made it to what looked like a line of cars. We were all in line heading to one of the many car parks. A friendly chap wearing neon first asks me if I’m a National Trust member. I didn’t know what that meant and I was pretty sure that I wasn’t so I replied with “No” and then he hands me an orange booklet listing the prices in multiple languages and says I can park in the ‘free’ car park and will need to head up to the visitors centre to pay my entry fee.
This should have been my first warning but I thought nothing of it.
Loads of people were in line at the visitors center. I waited patiently and then handed over my 11.50£. I also handed over their multilingual price booklet – because, you know… I want to be a responsible tourist and recycle. What would I do with their price list in a dozen different languages?
The visitors centre was busy AF and I avoided it like the plague. I was stopped by one of the staff and handed an audio tour. And, then I made a bee line outside. The views were vast. It truely was a spectacular site!
I listened to only one audio tour on the hand held thing because I found it clunky and difficult to hold. Also, the stories were long winded. It would have been cool to have listened to these stories on either my iPhone using my own headphones… or even an actual guide.
When I reached the Giants Causeway, ridiculous amounts of people were everywhere. They were rock scrambling and climbing everywhere. I even found what appeared to be rock lifeguards with bum bags full of medical supplies keeping the patrons safe.
I was shocked to see a large amount of people pushing strollers on the difficult trails. These ‘red’ trails were steep and rocky, but to each their own… And, after climbing over some steep stairs and rocky terrain, I reached the top.
Looking down, I could see people walking around EVERYWHERE. I kept on my trail walking back to the Visitors Centre and I wondered how these people got here. The entry was down below where you buy your ticket… or so I thought.
I went back to the van and drove off heading to a nearby castle for a look. It wasn’t as busy, thankfully, but I overheard a local tell a couple how they didn’t need to buy tickets to see the Giants Causeway.
I was like… ‘What the?’ And it all clicked. I pieced it all together. The entry fee is to go inside the visitors center to use the toilet, look at the mediocre exhibit and to buy an overly price coffee and naff souvenirs.
I got duped.
I took to Trip Advisor. I was right. Review after review said the same exact thing. Locals were airing their grievances about the paid exhibit and expressing how to get around the entry free. That’s when I realised I got duped straight from the car park!
If you think about it, it’s a really cheeky and psychological starting from handing over the brochure to mentioning that if I’m a Natural Trust member, I get free entry… I remember watching the staff directing pedestrian traffic to the front door to pay. What a cunning plan and at the same time, I think it’s a bit cheeky. Not one person said that it was free to walk down to the causeway.
I was so disappointed by this. I paid 11.50£ for a visitors centre that I would have gladly avoided. In saying this, natural wonders should be free. It’s a world heritage site.
So, why I didn’t like it? Well, I’m not really a corporate girl… I’m a girl who enjoys trekking though three wet farmers fields to see a gorgeous stone circle. Yes, I’ve visited numerous castles and nearly every place both free and paid… most of the places I’ve been to were reasonable in price. To be honest, that’s what it should be. This is world history – it should be for all, not for a few.
That’s why the Giants Causeway wasn’t for me. I didn’t like being duped and I don’t think that others should be duped either.
What are your thoughts? How does this make you feel? Do you think natural sites should be free or have a fee attached?
An Aussie girl gone walkabout in the great big world!