by Erin Elaine
Like thousands of other people who visit Northern Ireland each year, I was very excited to see the Giant’s Causeway during my trip this past summer. I got off the bus after a beautiful (and slightly terrifying) ride along the Antrim Coast, and then walked over to the Giant’s Causeway Visitor’s Centre.
I was greeted by a sign that clearly indicated I must ENTER the visitor’s centre in order to see the Causeway. I walked inside, only to be stopped at the front desk and told to pay £8.50 ($14 US). What a rip off! I asked if there was any way to see the Giant’s Causeway for free. Instead of responding to my question, I was asked if I parked my car here. I answered no. The employee responded that I was welcome to visit the Giant’s Causeway separately, but I couldn’t enter the Visitor’s Centre without paying.
So, I exited the Visitor’s Centre and wandered around outside, figuring I must have missed some other sign indicating the direct route to the Causeway to bypass the visitor’s centre. No such sign exists.
I asked a different employee how I could see the Causeway for free. Again the response was “Did you park your car here?” I answered no. (Turns out if you want to park your car, you MUST pay for entrance to the visitor’s centre.) Finally, this employee directed me to a completely unmarked route. “Walk that way and you’ll see the Causeway.”
This unmarked path was a swatch of grass between the visitor’s centre and the parking lot, and there were some long flat stones that looked like benches partially blocking the way. They clearly didn’t want you to realize there was a way to bypass the visitor’s centre.
Finally, I made it to the Causeway, and it was beautiful and breathtaking and everything I hoped it would be. Read about it and see my pictures here.
Upon returning the way I came, I wondered if I could go inside the Visitor’s Centre to buy souvenirs. I went inside and asked the lady at the desk if I could go inside for free if I didn’t go see the Causeway. Our exchange went as follows:
Employee: Did you park your car here?
Me: No, I took a bus. And I already saw the Causeway, I just want to buy souvenirs.
Employee: I’m sorry, you have to pay for entrance.
Me: Is there a discount if I don’t have a car?
Employee: Yes, I can sell you a ticket for £7.50.
Me: £7.50 just to walk inside a building? I want to spend money here.
Employee: £7.50 is a very reasonable price.
Me: I guess you guys don’t really want my money that badly. Goodbye.
So. This was my experience at the Giant’s Causeway Visitors Centre. They can’t require people to pay, since the causeway was made by NATURE, not MAN, so instead they either trick people into paying through lack of signage, or they force people to pay through parking fees. They should be ashamed of themselves.