Life isn't standing still here, and it's becoming hard to get the motivation to finish these posts. But I can do it! A week after my parents arrived in Dublin, we undertook the first road trip in Ireland where our car was the vehicle (past trips were thanks to Darse and Xan's car). On this particular trip, we took our car West with the aim of seeing the Cliffs of Moher. So we packed up some provisions and some overnight gear and got going relatively early on Saturday morning.
The start of the journey out of Dublin was on some nice dual carriageways (that's what they call divided highways here), but once you get a certain distance out from Dublin, the roads start to get narrow. Driving becomes interesting on these roads, and it's a little hard to get used to.
At any rate, we neared the area known as the Burren, which is a very distinctive rocky area near the west coast of Ireland. In the vicinity of the town of Gort, we took a bit of a wrong turn and ended up on some *really* narrow roads. Just about the time we were thinking of turning around and retracing our steps though, we came across some ruins. Having been driving for awhile, it seemed like a good place to stop and stretch our legs. Apparently we had run across Kilmacduagh - the ruins of an Irish monastery. It's still a bit hard to get used to being in a country where you can just drive by ruins of significance at random ...
At any rate, we decided to brave the tiny roads and continue along our path. We hadn't actually planned the weekend out very well, which turned out to be a good thing -- because if we had, we might not have made it in time for any bookings. Still, we kind of were in a mood to "see stuff". In the Burren there were a ton of signs pointing out various things to see. One thing that caught my mom's eye was the Burren Perfumery, which apparently is something of note. So we followed those signs into a quiet little area where there was a house and tea cottage. There was a very nice video with some stunning photos of the Burren area, which was pretty enjoyable.
Back in the car, we headed towards the town of Lisdoonvarna where we had booked a bed and breakfast for the night. When we entered the town, great big signs proclaimed Lisdoonvarna as the matchmaking capital of Europe. Huh, who knew? Anyway, we found our B&B and dropped off our bags before persuing some local food. After some quick pub grub we headed down to the coastal town of Doolin which was a short drive away. Our aim was to scout out the terrain to see if we could find where we could catch a boat to take us to see the Cliffs of Moher from the sea.
It was a beautiful evening, so it was also well worth the walk to see what we could find. On the way, we found a little pitch-and-putt golf course right next to the ocean. I really can't think of a more picturesque place for such a thing, and it was enough to pull us in to play a round. Well, let me tell you, we're not very good at golf! The 18(!) holes of golf took us entirely too long to play. The poor guy who rented out our clubs was waiting for us to finally finish up so he could go home. Still, it was well worth it!
The shops at the dock had all closed already, but I was able to take a few names back to the B&B to look up and see what the rates were. It had been a fairly long day on the road, so we returned back to the B&B to rest up!
The next morning, after a full Irish breakfast at the B&B, we headed back down to the coast where we signed up for the first boat at noon that day. It turned out we were a bit early, so for the next couple hours we spent some time walking around on the coast. My mom and Diane headed into Doolin to check out some shops, while my dad and I walked around and enjoyed the sunshine and the scenery. I was quite happy with the photos I took while walking around!
Reconvening at the docks, we boarded a boat which took us over to the cliffs. About 5 minutes into the journey though, I got a red-alert phone call from work. Whoops, talk about bad timing! I wasn't able to help out when I could barely hear the guy on the other end of the phone, so I apologized and promised to call in when I got back to land. So with that rather unfortunate downer, the boat took us off to see some rather magnificent looking cliffs. It's too bad the sun didn't stick around for our little tour -- annoyingly it clouded over just for that bit. Still, some of the pictures turned out!
The boat takes you fairly close to the cliffs, although not very close -- since there's some danger of falling rocks. It did take us quite close An Bhreannán Mór -- a pillar separated away from the cliffs. Both this pillar of rock and the cliffs make excellent bird nesting sites, and boy were there a lot of them! We got close enough to catch a whiff. Yeah, birds are pretty stinky! Seriously!
Back ashore, I called into work, but they had sorted out the issue so it was back to being a tourist for me! We hopped back in the car and headed north in the general direction of Galway. It was my intention to take a quick look in Galway and find some food before heading home. But we kind of got sidetracked with some of the sights along the coast. It's quite a beautiful drive there, and we stopped several times to take photos and walk around the rocky terrain of the Burren. So it was well into the afternoon and we hadn't even made it near Galway yet, so stopped in a cafe in a little town for lunch before heading home.
I'd say it was a decently successful weekend, even if it was a bit disorganized!