11.08.2010 18 °C
Now that I've said my piece, our second day in Ireland started early with a cross-country bus tour to the spectacular Cliffs of Moher. There were other attractions along the way, such as photo stops at a castle and the Corcomroe Abbey ruins, but my main interest was to see the sublimity of the Cliffs. Because the bus was running late due to a malfunctionnning door, we stopped at some baby cliffs right before Doolin where we were allowed to sit on the edge or lay down to take straight shots down the cliffs. It was pretty cool - I did the latter, with dad holding on to my feet. The view was amazing - white clouds on a blue sky backdrop with strong winds against the craggy cliffs. Lovely, but it was only a teaser! We stopped at Doolin for lunch, a pretty fishing village just beyond Galway Bay that is known for its trad music...apparetnly the place in Ireland to hear a céilidh (traditional Irish gathering) or trad music in a pub. Unfortunetly, we were out of the region by 3, so I'll have to put it on the do to list for my next trip.
Our bus driver advised us to take the time to go to O'Brien's Tower on the top of the cliffs for the best view, then go to the cliffs before seing the eco sustainable tourist center. We decided to trust the local and paid 2€ each for access to the tower (a tourist trap built in the late 1800's) - a waste of money. The view of the sea is great, but the shots of the cliffs are obscured by the top of the turret. If you ever visit the cliffs, save your money to buy postcards at the shops.
The Cliffs were simply sublime. Yes, it's just rocks and turf, but the cliffs are 650 ft. high and the view is absolutely spectacular. We had the perfect day - the sun was shining, the wind wasn't too strong and the colors were brilliant. Dad and I stepped over the "security barrier" where the cliffs were deemed "unsafe" to walk further up and see the best view where you can see the Aran Islands as well as most of Galway bay. I suppose the section is deemed unsafe because the ground is clay, earth and turf rather than a rocky cliff. Oh well, what’s life without a little adventure, and we didn’t do any unintentional cliff diving. The view truly is spectacular with the swooping birds and the crashing surf, and the steep drop of the cliffs just adds to the drama. The wind teases at the possibility of taking you over, but it’s safe enough to cross the barrier. Besides, if it were unsafe, I think they would put more effort into keeping people out. In my studies the word “sublime” was often mentioned in poetry and literature, but I think that this day was my first encounter with the sublimity of nature. A visit to the Cliffs is highly recommended, whether you choose to do it on land or by sea. We were told later by a taxi driver that the best view is from the water - a tour boat from one of the nearby villages. I'll probably come and see them again some day because I definitely want to see more of Western Ireland.
The day after the Cliffs we left for Southampton via ferry to Holyhead and then a train through the Welsh countryside. My suggestion: if you can afford to fly, do it...after the first two hours on the train, you'll see enough fields, sheep and cows to last a lifetime.
We boarded the cruise yesterday, and so far things are going well, if not pricey. As first time cruisers, we didn't realise that the initial cost doesn't cover everything. Drinks are extra, as are Internet, bottled water for your shore excusions, any specialty coffee or tea, laundry...you name it, it's extra. The initial cost covers the cabin, the food (exept for two restaurants that require an additionnal cover change) and the steward services. Still, I'm not complaining too much. Cleaning and turndown service every day (chocolate on your pillow!), yummy food and good company. Just tonight I couldn't find mum and dad in the dining room, so I had supper with two couples from the states and a family from Toronto. Ooohhh...and they have this chocolate mousse dessert they call the Love Boat. Pure bliss!
That's it for now. Tomorrow we're off to Blarney Castle and after I'm exploring Cobh.