We will be traveling to Northern Ireland in late April. I am an older lady, and my grown daughter will be traveling with me. We will be depending on public transportation entirely. We'll be arriving by ferry from Scotland, and would like to spend a few days in NI seeing the sights (Giant's Causeway, and especially Rathlin Island). We are budget travelers and do not need 5 star hotels, just a nice quiet room convenient to the bus or train (or not more than 1/2 mile walk from one). We do not drink, but do enjoy traditional music. We also do not do "fine dining" but are happy with grabbing a sandwich or some soup in the evenings, assuming we've had a big breakfast. We would like to keep our accommodations at under 100 pounds total per night.
We are trying to work out logistics - I had located what seems like a good guest house out by the Giant's Causeway, but am concerned that since we have to rely on a bus to get to the ferry at Rathlin Island we won't have much time on the island. I have heard that the private mini-bus that takes one from the ferry to the bird sanctuary is spotty at best, and awful at worst. Does anyone have experience with them? We're wondering if it might not be better to stay in Belfast or Londonderry or a larger town and then take a day tour out? My daughter does want to do a bit of shopping (she cannot get cosmetics here that are light enough for her skin tone and is hoping to do so there!). She'd also like to buy some nice woolens and, if it's available, wool fabric (she sews as a hobby). Any advice would be appreciated.