My alarm woke me up with such a jolt. It was only our second night in Dublin, but it was by far the best sleep I’ve had since I left home. Sleeping on the plane was terrible and we froze ourselves solid the previous night as we neglected to turn on the heater. Actually, it was more like we didn’t realize we had to turn on the heater, much like you’d have to turn on the AC as soon as you walk into a room in South East Asia. With focused determination, I slipped out of my blanket and stumbled out of bed. This was no small feat as our room had transformed into an ice box overnight, despite the heater being cranked up to its highest setting the night before. We later realized that Irish houses are built with non-insulated cement walls hence the perpetually cold and damp rooms, almost as if the walls and the floors were exhaling cold air on us.
I know I mentioned my dislike for organized tours, but there have been cases when circumstances forced me to go along with one. This was one such example. Unless we rent a car, there would be no way for us to get to the Cliffs efficiently. This is a problem in itself seeing as the only driver of age (i.e. myself) cannot drive stick and I wasn’t willing to risk our lives learning it on Ireland’s extremely narrow and winding coastal roads. Ireland’s bus network is extensive, but it’s slow and it would take us forever to get there. After weighing the pros and cons all the while considering we were on a tight schedule, we signed up with MacCoole Tours at the end of our Free Walking Tour; 40€ would cover all our transportation and admission fee, including a mountain walk that promises a stunning panoramic view of the Western coast. Not bad, not bad at all. Except for one minor fact that the sky decided to dump all the rain it had over Ireland that morning. But the tour must go on, and so we walked under the rain to our bus, which would then take us to Galway City on the other side of the island. The drive across was boring – there was nothing much to see as it was still dark when we left – so I did what I do best: I slept. For the entire 3 hours.
Burren UNESCO Geopark
When we got to Galway City, we were picked up by a local coach bus and were taken directly to Burren Farm, a 300-year old, still-fully functioning, family-owned farm that would serve as the starting point of our Burren Mountains walk. That stunning panoramic view I mentioned above? Yea, it didn’t happen.
Instead this is what we saw…
… consistently coupled with drifting winds, constant mist, and occasional drizzles. Also, I had an amazing mess of rain hair afterwards.
After the walk, we came back to the farmhouse where John’s (our tour guide) grandparents used to live. They revamped the entire living quarters into a small, comfortable cafe, complete with sentimental paraphernalia, hence preserving the familial and homey atmosphere. This sign was posted on the window ledge at the front door:
Exhausted from the “gentle” walk (to be fair, the walk wasn’t that bad; it was just very muddy and slippery, so we had to be extra careful when going downhill), we couldn’t say no to the freshly-made cheesecake offered on display.
Cliffs of Moher
From the Burren Farm, we made our way to the Cliffs of Moher, passing by Lisdoonvarna, a village famously known for its one and only festival – the Matchmaking Festival.
The Cliffs, considered to be one of Ireland’s top attractions, rise 214 m (or 700 ft.) above the Atlantic Ocean and stretches for 8 KM along the western seaboard of County Clare.
Walking on the path close to the edge, we heard the thundering sounds of waves crashing against the cliffs threatening to destroy anything that falls into them.
The air cleared for about 20 minutes, just barely enough time for us to take a couple of pictures and to enjoy the view and the rugged beauty of the cliffs. Just as quickly as the fog lifted, it also began its descend rapidly, blanketing everything around us in thick, grey mist within the span of a few minutes.
It’s no wonder they often say you can experience 4 seasons within the span of an hour in Ireland!
Doolin Village and Black Head Coastal Drive
We made our way out of the Cliffs towards Doolin Village, stopping at Fitzpatrick’s Bar for lunch. 6€ got us a bowl of delicious seafood chowder with brown bread – warm and hearty, exactly what I needed after battling the crazy wind and rain.
Our guide told us to quickly wrap it up as we needed to head out to the coast before the sun starts to set and thus leaving us with nothing to see but darkness (hence the title of this post). We piled back onto the bus and we made our way through Ireland’s winding roads and hairpin bends, with rolling green fields on one side and gorgeous blue sky and water on the other side.
We ended the tour at Galway City, dubbed to be West Ireland’s Cultural capital, where we strolled through their Christmas Market.
The city really doesn’t compare to what we’ve seen that day. Despite the crazy fog and the rain, I could still see how beautiful Ireland is.
You know, sometimes we just have to sit back, relax, stop fretting about the weather, and let nature amaze us.