Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Dream Vacation - Day 5

Was up early and headed out to Blackrock Castle Observatory. Blackrock Castle is a 16th-century castle located about 2 km from the heart of Cork city, Ireland on the banks of the River Lee. Originally built to defend the port and upper flows of Cork Harbour, the castle is now the site of an observatory, visitors centre and restaurant. Because we got there so early it was closed and since we were on a time table we couldn't wait around for it to open. We grabbed a few pictures of what we could and headed north on the westside of Ireland.

We were heading to the Cliffs of Moher, it was a three hour drive. Lots and lots of green valleys and beautiful scenery. While we were heading up we stopped for Robert to send out some postcards. We made three attempts to find a much needed bathroom and finally on our last attempt at this very old school gas station we succeeded. While there Thomas bought us some homemade chocolate marshmallow candies that the little old lady who ran the gas station had made. It was some of the best marshmallow I have ever had.

We made it to the Cliffs of Moher (or as I started to call them, The Cliffs of Mordor). Of course you had to pay to see them, but I've come to expect to pay for everything here.

It was cold 3 degrees Celsius and a bit windy but that didn't take away from the beauty of the cliffs. The cliffs stand 300 to 700 feet above the Atlantic Ocean. Because they didn't want to obscure the land with a visitor center building they actually built that and adjoining stores into the side of a hill... very Hobbit like.

We spent a good few hours walking both south and then north on the trails. It was definitely one of my many highlights of my trip.

Next we headed to Doolin, birth place of Irish music. When we got there everything was closed in this very tiny city on the sea. It was a winter season and there were only two taverns open.

So we headed a bit north to Lisdoonvarna were we grabbed lunch at this Irish pub The Ritz Pub. This pub was exactly what I had pictured in my mind when you think of a traditional Irish pub.

On our way to the Burren we stopped in Kilfenora for information and I found this fantastic Irish t-shirt that I just had to get.

We then drove into The Burren. The Burren is a karst-landscape region or alvar in northwest County Clare, in Ireland. It is one of the largest karst landscapes in Europe. Burren is rich with historical and archaeological sites. There are more than 90 megalithic tombs in the area, portal dolmens (including Poulnabrone dolmen), a Celtic high cross in the village of Kilfenora, and a number of ring forts - among them the triple ring fort Cahercommaun on the edge of an inland cliff, and the exceptionally well-preserved Caherconnell Stone Fort.

It's a huge area so we only were able to see a few things but the landscape is amazing. While in the Burren we saw Leamaneagh Castle, Mullaghamore (aka the pancake rock), a few of the megalithic tombs and protals. But I have to say my favorite was when we were walking down this trail and it dipped into a valley and everything was green.. the ground was covered in moss, the trees extremely green and over grown.. it was as if we just walked into fairy land. Another great site were this fields of cracked limestone, looks very other worldly.

After the Burren we made our way to Galway (today's stopping point). We were staying at a Travelodge this time so we had a nice hotel room with extremely comfy beds. We checked in and asked the front desk guy were we could hear some traditional Irish music, he said there were two places and showed up on our map where they were. After walking for what felt like forever, we found the main city centre where the bars and stores were. We first grabbed some dinner at fast food place that's only in Ireland called Supermac's.

There were two places that were doing Irish music. Both were packed but we opted for Taaffes Pub. We hung out, drank some beers and listened to these amazing artist perform some very cool traditional Irish music for about a hour before we called it a night and headed back to the hotel to crash.

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