Cliffs of Moher/ Cliffs of Fantasticness

Trip Start Jan 25, 2010
Trip End Jun 09, 2010

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Where I stayed
Erin's Apartment

Flag of Ireland  , Western Ireland,
Thursday, January 28, 2010

Yesterday, Ashley and I took a day trip to the Cliffs of Moher while Erin was in class-- and let me tell you-- they were amazing. We purchased tickets through Spars-- a local convenience store type thing-- and we walked to the Coach Station. Now, for future advice-- be careful at these places. Ashley and I were hoodwinked to say the least. We went to where our gate would be and there was a guy waiting in front of the door and he came up to take our tickets. Normal, right? 

Wrong. So we gave him our tickets and he showed us onto the bus and then left. The bus driver wasn't there so I assumed it was him. We never saw him again. When the bus driver got onto the bus, he asked us to see our tickets. Ashley and I looked at eachother and I opened my mouth to explain the situation and he just said "Ohh you're probably part of the group, so you don't have your ticket, right?"-- so naturally he just nodded and then he left us alone. Apparently, we had tickets through a different tour. The company started with an "O", although I don't remember the name exactly. The tour we ended up on was called Laffy or Lally or something like that. Ashley and I got lucky that there was a "group" there that day, or we would have been screwed I think. So, lesson learned-- don't show anyone your tickets that isn't definitely the bus driver!

Regardless of that small speedbump, we had a great time. Our tour guide's name was Martin and he was a sweet, older man and he didn't drive as crazy as the previous bus driver had. He was knowledgeable and he told us stories and facts about Galway and the surrounding cities. Whenever there was something even remotely interesting, he would let us stop for about 10 minutes to take a picture. We stopped at a castle in Kilvarn, saw the Blackhead Cliffs, the Cliffs of Moher and a megalithic tomb. 

Along the way we also stopped at a local restaurant/pub in Dooley called Fitzpatrick's which served more traditional Irish foods. I tried Guinness brewed beef stew and it was delicious-- I highly recommend it if you ever come to Ireland. 

The castle was really pretty but unfortunately, closed to the public. We took a few pictures in front of it and walked around it. It was on the water and it was a towered castle so it was really scenic and serene. We then made our way to the Blackhead Cliffs. I was impressed by these cliffs, as they were really pretty and I thought they were a good size. However, when I saw the Cliffs of Moher I was in awe. This is the Ireland I think of when I picture the Emerald Isle-- rolling green hills on the water with massive cliffs. The cliffs were giant. Theres really no other words to describe it. There were birds flying around between the cliff edges and roosting in the nooks of the edges. It was a surreal feeling to be standing at the edge of this endless blue, hundreds of feet up with one of the beautiful views I had ever seen. If I could, I would build a house there, although it seems somewhat dangerous, as it rains a lot and there are probably mudslides and stuff all the time.  At the Cliffs, they just built at 13 million dollar visitor center and it looked like the Shire to me and Ashley. It was built into the hillside, with windows coming out of the ground. I just thought it was worth mentioning. I'll upload a picture of it or something. There was also a man playing music nearby and it was pleasant to watch the cliffs and listen to the music at the same time-- very calming. 

However, according to a few websites and a book that Ashley read there are a number of tourist deaths each year from falling off of the Cliffs. Be careful to stay on the path and not to get blown off the cliffs by the strong winds. It was windy, but it wasn't that windy when we were there. 

After the Cliffs of Moher, we took a journey to the Ailwee caves which were pretty interesting. Some of the stuff I had learned in high school, but it showed the development of stalactites and stalagmites, an underground waterfall, a fossilized bear den from thousands of years ago and we got to see some extremely rare bats (that were like 2 inches long). Then we ventured to see a megalithic tomb (greek for mega-- meaning large-- and lithos, meaning stone). Apparently, people are buried underneath these tombs and they are from during the stone age. It was pretty interesting just because they have been standing up for all of those years and haven't fallen. I want to know who the hell lifted those things on top of eachother-- they are massive rocks. 

We got back to Galway around 17:30 and went to a shopping center called Dunnes to get groceries. Most Irish people go to the store after work to get dinner, as most of their stuff is bought fresh-- there aren't as many preservatives in their foods as in ours so if they buy things for the week like we do, it wouldn't be as good or fresh. Erin and I bought stuff to make chicken, rice and vegetables. Ashley reverted back to her old ways and bought Diet Coke, croissants and cookies. We made dinner and then we, along with Erin's roommate Keavy and her boyfriend and friend Ana, went to Quay Street and went to a few pubs, Taaffes and The Front Door. I enjoyed both of them The first had live traditional Irish music and it was fun to listen to and the second pub was a two-storey pub with American music playing.

Today we are off to visit Christa in Dublin. It should be a good time. We are getting in around .14:30 and we will probably try to go somewhere around the time that we get there. I want to check out the Guinness Factory and Erin recommended Kilmainham Jail which sounds pretty cool. We may check out Trinity College and other sites as well. We'll see how it goes.
 Things I learned today:

1. Galway is known around the world as an exporter of information technology, especially microchips and such. Hewlett-Packard is based out of Ireland. So-- all you HP users, including myself, are using Irish technology.
2. More Irish slang:
- The bathroom or restroom is referred to as the "toilet", so I'm pretty sure you might get a few strange looks if you ask where the restroom or toilet is. There's usually a sign, so just follow it if you don't want to ask.
- Pants are normally referred to as women's underwear. So saying you are wearing pants means something different. When I asked Keavy's boyfriend, they just seemed to refer to them as whatever kind of pants they were-- e.g., jeans were jeans, corduroys were cords, etc. Also, if the weather is really bad, they sometimes say "It's raining pants outside". 
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