Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Cliffs of Moher & Dingle, Ireland: Day 11

There are some spectacular views all over Ireland and we were lucky enough to spend a beautiful afternoon walking around the Cliffs of Moher. It took a bit of driving to actually get to the cliffs. The roads were not exactly straight or wide or straight or wide (yes I said it twice). I didn't know if we were ever going to arrive at the cliffs alive because of the path our GPS was taking us on but once we made it, we were SO glad we decided to travel to the cliffs. They are INCREDIBLE. Those that are brave (and disobedient) can jump over the railings and walk right along the cliffs edges. With it being as windy has it had been the last couple of days, and my value for life, I decided against walking the crazy path along the edge and stuck to the pedestrian paths. We stood in awe for quite a while just staring at the cliffs and the water. It was a beautiful day visiting the cliffs.

If you look closely at the edge of the cliff below, you can see someone who has jumped aboard the crazy train and is standing at the edge of the cliff.

From the cliffs we headed towards the BEACH! Along the way we took our first ferry boat ride. It was a welcome surprise (thanks GPS) to add to our multiple modes of transportation on this trip and we continued on our way. We stopped for dinner at Inch Beach in Dingle. If you've seen the movie Leap Year, this beach is in the movie. We spent time walking along the beach in the water, watching the surfers, and eating dinner at a restaurant that sat right on the beach.
We ended the night at our Lodge, the Kerry Ocean Lodge. It was another great hotel and we had great views of the mountains (they were actually really big hills but when you're from Iowa, its a mountain) and the goats/animals wondering around the bluffs.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Galway, Ireland: Day 10

After a SUPER windy day at the Giant’s Causeway and our overnight stay in Portrush, we headed towards the west coast to the city of Galway. It was my turn to drive (and I only hit a curb once…though there were plenty of close calls) and we made it safely to our oceanfront bed and breakfast. It was the cutest little B&B that sat on the outskirts of town with our little room overlooking the ocean. We unpacked our things and decided to walk in to Galway to explore and get some dinner. We learned that the term “lynching” was first coined in Galway. They also have a famous stripper pole in the middle of their town. Weird. Much of our time in Galway was spent walking around the city and walking along the coast taking jumping pictures. J

Our room was so cute. Cindy and Theresa ended up playing beauty parlor and fixing up Theresa’s hair while I read a book. I don’t know what it is about my European excursions but I become obsessed with reading, more so than I already am. I guess I just find really good books to take on trips and being away from home, I have a lot more free time to read so I take full advantage. It was a nice way to finish off the evening in our cozy little room reading and laughing at the hair transformations.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Belfast and Portrush, Ireland: Day 9

We woke up in Belfast to extremely high winds! We turned on the TV and the news was reporting that northern Ireland was experiencing hurricane type winds due to an actual hurricane off the coast of the US. Our schedule was to head to Dunluce Castle, carrick-a-rede bridge and then on to the Giants Causeway but we were really unsure if any of that would even be open. We packed up the car, fired up the GPS, and decided to skip out on the bridge since all of the information we had about the bridge said it usually closes with high winds. We made our way further north where we came over this hill and there was the sea right in front of us. We were all pretty excited that we made a quick pit stop to jump out of the car and take some pictures.
We continued on to Dunluce Castle. It is an old OLD castle that sits right on the edge of the sea. Part of the castle actually fell into the sea a while ago due to erosion and what not. We scurried around the grounds and took some pictures. We were pretty wind blown at that point but we had no idea what was ahead of us with the Giant’s Causeway.

Arriving at the Giant’s Causeway, we were all pretty excited because we’d heard some great stories about it. It felt like the wind had picked up, however, and we were right. We started making our way down the various paths towards the different landmarks and found it difficult to walk at times because of the wind. We made it further and further through the hiking trails and started making our way up some of the cliffs. (Little did we know that they had actually closed the trail after we’d gone through due to the high winds). There was one particular point on the cliff where you basically have to turn a 90 degree angle to get around the corner. Theresa and I slowly edged our way towards it while Cindy hung back (afraid of heights…). Theresa and I were basically clinging to the cliff and the winds were so strong we couldn’t actually move. It was at that point that the rocks I was holding on to started to crumble and the wind started pushing me down into Theresa knocking Theresa closer to the edge. I was laughing so hard I thought I was going to pee everywhere because it was just insane what was happening and we couldn’t control it. The wind was WILD. I eventually let go and basically crawled around the corner where we were hidden by some of the wind. Cindy said that had she not feared for our life, she would have videoed it because it was incredible to watch. (even though she thought we were going over the edge).

It was a long hike back and we met up with some park rangers on the way who informed us that 1) the path was closed 2) the bus was no longer running due to the winds so we had to walk the entire way and 3) the winds were approximately 80 mps average. No wonder we couldn’t walk straight. We were being pelted with tiny rocks and salt water. It was a pretty incredible experience.
Funny story: we went into the gift shop to look around and I realized that I left my money in the car. As I was walking back to the car, some lady was yelling and trying to jump a fence. I looked over and she looked at me and said “my money!!” and I could see a bill whipping around in the wind. I started to chase after it and as you can imagine, looked like a fool trying to grab money in the air. It flew into a construction zone and I went sprinting after it where I had to crawl around a fence to eventually retrieve her cash ($100 in cash btw). She was so thankful and I just laughed because I’m sure everyone watching me thought I probably looked like a crazy person.
After the Causeway, we made a scenic drive to Portrush (Golfing Capital of the World) where we would stay the night. The guy running the hotel was so friendly and told us lots of stories and had a hilarious irish accent. He really loved golf so I talked with him quite a bit about it and the famous golfers who actually live in and around Portrush. We had dinner at the Ramore Restaurant (I had fish and chips) and it was delicious! After dinner we walked around town a bit more, thankful that the winds had finally died down, before returning to our hotel. This was one of my all time favorite days in Europe ever.