Aran Islands

Trip Start Jul 01, 2009
Trip End Jul 25, 2009

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Flag of Ireland  , Western Ireland,
Sunday, July 5, 2009

Our journey to the Aran Island began at 8:30 this morning. We met and walked down the Victorian Hotel to claim our purchased tickets through Island Ferries.  Julie, from Maine and Jim from Wisconsin were my fellow traveling companions for this excursion.  At the ticket office we met a nice student from Italy that was giving us information regarding Italy and also asked us about our home towns.  She has traveled to the US two times but only went to Maine and California.  It's amazing to learn how well travelled many college students are these days.  (Even more incredible is the fact that they are fluent in at least two different languages.)

            After claiming our tickets we hopped on the Lally Tour bus out to Rosa’Mhil Harbour (Rossaveal), which was about a 45 minute ride.  It was a beautiful journey up along the coast.  We passed through the areas of Salthill and Spideal.  There were some lovely homes and B&B’s throughout that stretch.  The ferry from Rosa’Mhil to the largest Aran Island, Inis Mor, took about 40 minutes.  I loved being back on the water!  However, the ferry over was all enclosed except for avery small section in the back, so I had to remain inside.  (We did have an upstairs, open top ferry on the return, so I just loved that!)  The ride over seemed very smooth, not that I notice that kind of thing.  I love the waves.  And, I didn’t see anyone gripping their seats or getting green.

            Upon arrival we walked a short distance and were asked if we wanted to rent bikes.  He also said he’d charge us 5 euro each instead of the 10 that the brochure claimed.  We took a look at the bikes and decided to cover the island that way.  The bikes were rather nice and had a clip for your bag in the back.  Jim is a biker, and Julie is very fit, so we were nicely matched for our day’s adventure.

            We headed left and out to the Aran Lighthouse and Signal Tower.  This was on the highest point of the island.  It became impossible to ride towards the end, as it was gravel and way too steep.  What a view!  After descending and hopping back onto our bikes we headed around the "Ring of Aran" and up the road to Oun Aonghasa.  When we asked a man how much further; he said about 5 miles up the road!  I thought that the entire island was only 5 miles long.  Boy was I wrong. We then passed a pretty beach area.

Oun Aonghasa is a semi circular Celtic stone fort.  It was built in 2000 BC!  We lay down and peered over the edge, just like the guide books show.  So cool!  By the time we were down from there we were VERY glad we had rented the bikes.  They were worth every penny.  There was no way you can cover any good portion of the island on foot.  (You also have to park your bikes for the descend up to this point, but the bikes still offer a great way to get between points of interest.)

We did not have time to take in the other sites, so we headed back down and decided to take the beach road back into town.  It was neat to be able to see above where we had just travelled earlier in the day.  The stone fields were everywhere.   Once we got into town we realized we had a short bit of time before the bikes needed to be returned.  We grabbed a quick drink outside a restaurant and sat outside to watch the people move about.  We then drove down to the bike drop off and headed for the 4:00 ferry.  It was great to be able to sit up top and soak in the sun and feel the breeze.  We sat next to two farmers from county Donegal.  One was a cattle farmer and the other was a “spud” farmer.  They were very amusing to speak with although they have a very heavy dialect difference and were difficult to understand at times.

The weather was certainly on our side today.  We had 2 minutes of sprinkles on the island.  As soon as we boarded the bus at 5, it started to rain heavy for a bit.  It then slowed, but has been spitting on an off the rest of the evening.  (One of the other students said that it was doing that kind of thing ALL day today in Galway.  Here we had beautiful sunshine and comfortable temperatures while the others were experiencing a dreary day.  (I even ended up getting sunburned!  Yes, I did wear sunblock, but I forgot to reapply. Oops!)

Once back into Galway (5:50) we ate dinner at McDonagh’s.  This was the place I was told to go to get good salmon.  I was all ready for it as we had worked up quite an appetite after biking 10+ miles and walking up countless hills and summits.  Well, there was a slight problem.  They only serve from the “board” on Sundays.  That means everything was fried.  I ended up with fried codfish and French fries.  I haven’t eaten French fries is years and now I have eaten them twice in two days.  Ugh!  They did taste pretty yummy though and I figured I had earned it after my active day.  (No chicken today!  I will need to go back to McDonagh’s on another night for my salmon treat.

It was still raining by the time we finished with dinner so we all hoofed it back to our dorm and called it a night.  After doing this I am going to try and get a start on my reading for class.  Tomorrow morning we go and do school visits and meet with teachers from our field of interest.  I’m looking forward to the learning experience.
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