Monday, May 18, 2009

Project 365: Day 137 -- The Cliffs of Moher (and other amazing sights)

We woke up this morning in the Harbour View Bed & Breakfast, with this beautiful sunrise outside our windows:

After my shower, I was getting ready and heard some cows mooing. Not a big surprise, since we were obviously out in the country. But when I looked out the windows, I saw this:

The poor guy was stuck behind these cows for as far as I could see the road--at least 1/2 a mile.

If I looked to my left, I could make out the Aran Islands, with their rings of white surf. It was a glorious day, with sunshine and puffy clouds. The temperature outside was cool, but not cold. I was so excited to start the day and see the country!

We started the day with an Irish Breakfast. This included scrambled eggs, sausage, Irish bacon (which is more like country ham than the bacon you get in the US) tomatoes, and toast. We opted to forgo the black pudding, made from pig's blood. No Coke for breakfast here, but plenty of orange juice. Kelly wouldn't let me bring my camera to breakfast, so no photos of the food this time, lol. During breakfast, we met some of the other guests, including 3 women who had been on our flight from New York. We discussed the horrible inadequacy's of the GPS system in Ireland.

After breakfast, we explored Doolin a little--this took all of about 20 minutes, lol. Then we drove to the Cliffs of Moher. You park across the street and then walk up to the top of the cliffs. About halfway up, the beautiful, sunny day turned cloudy and wet. And it was very windy up on those cliffs. But Oh.My.Gosh. What an incredible sight! The cliffs stretch along nearly eight kilometers of coastline, and are 214 meters high. O'Brien's Tower, built in 1835, tops one of the cliffs.

After viewing the cliffs, we stopped in a lovely jewelry store near the gift shops. A beautiful and friendly Irish girl with a name that sounded like Elish, but I have no idea how it's spelled, was running the shop and chatted with us for a while. She said the fog gets so thick sometimes that you can't see the cliffs at all. So while it wasn't a clear day at that point, I was glad it wasn't so foggy I couldn't see the cliffs. While we were there, I bought some lovely sterling jewelry. The trinity knot symbolizes the Holy Trinity--Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. The Claddagh symbolizes love, friendship, and loyalty. Kelly even picked out a new wedding band, since his cracked in half a few years ago.

After our little shopping spree, we returned to Doolin for lunch at McGann's. It's true what they say--in Ireland you're a guest your first night; after that you're a regular. Since this was our second time in McGann's, we were greeted in an even more friendly manner than the night before. The bartender knew I wanted ice with my Pepsi, and was generous with it.

After lunch, we headed north to Galway. After leaving Doolin, we got sort of lost on the edge of the Burren. This is a area with a unique ecosystem and literally translates to "Rocky Place." And it is that. But look at this view from the road:

On our way to Galway, we stopped briefly at Dunguaire Castle. Not much to see, so we only snapped a few photos and left after about 5 minutes.

Once we reached the outskirts of Galway, we knew we didn't want to stay in Galway--it was too big and busy. We even got stuck in a miserable traffic jam. So we drove on through to the string of coastal villages on the west side of the city. It was getting late, and we were tired, so we picked the first B&B that looked good and was easy to find. It ended up being in Spiddal. And it ended up being not so easy to find, thanks to the GPS. What should have been a 10-15 minute drive straight out the main road, turned into an hour long drive through what Kelly now refers to as the Irish Badlands. The darn GPS took us off the main road and further inland--through some very rugged and desolate-looking terrain.

We finally made it to Ardmore House, which was stuffy, prim, and cramped. And the heat didn't work. And the shower was pathetic.

And Spiddal had three options for dinner--a pub, a seafood restaurant, and an oriental take-out place that didn't even look open. We opted for the seafood place. Kelly had the roast duck, which was good, and I had a seafood platter. Parts of it were good, and parts of it weren't.
Towards the end of dinner, we struck up a conversation with the lovely couple at the next table, Greg and Rose O'Sullivan. They were from New Zealand, and in their second of three weeks in Ireland. We dicussed the sights we had each seen, and what we still planned to see. We also discussed New Zealand quite a bit.

After dinner, there wasn't anything left to do but go back to our cold, cramped room and watch bad Irish TV in the uncomfortable bed. And when I say bad TV, I am NOT kidding. I think our choices that night were soccer, a show on chicken farming, and Britain's Got Talent. There's only 3 channels.

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