West Ireland is really the Ireland that comes to mind when you think of Ireland. Everything’s so green there with loads of stone walls and rugged shore lines. Beautiful!
I picked up Richard on Saturday (after missing the bus by a minute because it came early and then catching a bus that didn’t even stop at the airport and I had to walk a km to get there – ugh) and we collected our Opel Astra rental car. After a quick stop at my place for refreshments and my bags, we hit the road and headed to Galway on the west coast. Loads of evil round abouts finally lead us to our Bed & Breakfast St. Judes. Super cute place with lovely hosts and a nice room.
We then headed out to the city centre of Galway and wandered around there for a while. Super cute shopping streets (though the stores were closed) with charming house fronts and loads of pubs. We stopped for dinner at Finnegan’s and Rich had original Irish Shepperd’s Pie while I enjoyed my pizza. His jetlag and my evil cold plus our plans for Sunday made us go straight to the B&B without stopping at any of the lovely pubs (but we have St. Patty’s coming up!).
After an early breakfast at 8:30am (uargh!) we got out in the rain and cought our bus to the ferry at Rossaveal. Luckily the sea was quite calm and we made it to Inishmor, the largest of the Aran Islands without being queasy or puking (yay). Since it was raining and we only had a day on the island, we decided to go on one of the touristy minibus tours that Lonely Planet seems to despise. Well, we actually really enjoyed ours and it was lovely to sit in a dry bus and get the grand tour with lots of comments and answers from a local instead of walking around a 14km long island in the rain. The tour stopped for 2 hours at Dun Aengus, a stone ring fort dating back to 3000BC. The sheer amount of artifacts from 5000 years ago in this country don’t fail to amaze me. I’m so awed that they are still around after all these years in the rain and wind! The climb up was kind of rocky but we made it up there and back down without broken lilmbs. Standing at the cliff edges of Dun Aengus with the thunder of the ocean’s waves in my ears was definitely impressive.
We had time for lunch at a cafe by the fort (yay, another tourist trap) but the soup and bread for around 4Euro were pretty good and definitely warmed us up again. Having learned from Juliane and my Belfast trip, I had packed extra pairs of socks, and woolen ones, too, so my feet were snug and warm after I changed into those.
We got back on the bus and drove around a bit more over the island. The landscape there is so fascinating; mostly rocks just covered with a bit of green and loads of stone walls. I’m sure it’d be the perfect spot for soul searching if anyone ever feels the need for that.
After the tour we wandered around a bit by ourselves and then had some Guiness at the local pub – ironically The American Bar. Had to fend of some old drunk guy – yuk – but the place was overall quite nice. The ferry ride back to the mainland was more bumpy than the one out but not too horrible.
We wanted Chinese for dinner and so we did. Unfortunatelly it didn’t taste very Chinese. I guess I’m just so spoiled from Chinese restaurants in Germany and Rich from his Asian family cooking that it just seemed too European.
Monday morning we had a Full Irish Breakfast, which was similar to American breakfast with eggs, bacon, sausage, mushrooms, tomato, and a small potato patty. The B&B also always had a nice selection of fruits so breakfast was super delicious!
The plan for the day was to drive through county Clare and then back to Dublin. So we got out of Galway (byebye evil Galway round abouts) and on to narrow rural roads by the coast and through the Burren. The Burren area actually looks pretty bare with loads of gray rocks. We were super lucky that day as the sun was actually out, only hidden behind some clouds every once in a while. Poor Rich had to keep up with those tiny local roads that have walls right besides them and then later on with me nagging him to speed up and go the speedlimit (120kmh=75mph) on the Motorway so I’m sure his time in the car was much less enjoyable than mine on the passenger seat. Anyways, we stopped at a couple of places, like the Dolmen to take photos and then had lunch at Brendan’s Boat in Ballyvaughan. Yum smoked salmon and creamcheese bagle! Could eat that every day!
We continued to the Cliffs of Moher where they had just opened a new visitor center and also put up some boulders to keep people from getting too close to the edges and fall 200m deep into death. Of course we still saw one stupid guy climbing over them but he didn’t run over the edge (damn! – just kidding!!). The cliffs were really impressive and we were so lucky with the sunny weather! We hung out there for a while and then got back on the road to Dublin via Ennis and Limmerick where we stopped for twisty fries, a burger and tea at Mickey D’s before reaching my apartment around 10pm. Fresh rolls for dinner and then I drugged myself up with some Benalyn Night and I slept like a rock until my alarm rang this morning. I can totally see how people get addicted to that! No stuffy nose, no cough, deep sleep – lovely! Well, of course this morning my cough and runny nose are back but at least I did get some hours of good, uninterrupted sleep and didn’t feel like a shipwrecked this morning. :o)