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May, 2013 Trip, Day 1


Sorry to be so late getting this up. I had intended to do this on my blog with photos, but haven't gotten to that yet.  Thanks to everyone for advice and help beforehand.

I will have to do this in installments because my journal entries are LONG.

Day one, May 22, 2013

JFK to Shannon to Galway

 

Daughter Sundy and I arrived from JFK into Shannon airport at 6 a.m., a little groggy from only a few catnaps on Aerlingus, but raring to go. As we flew in over Ireland, my eyes teared up a bit. Everything was so rural and green and the sun was shining in welcome. At last, I was here.

By the way, Aerlingus was great. We sat on the side where only two seats were and enjoyed the extra room. We also enjoyed the free television in the seat-back in front of us where we could choose movies or TV, games or music to keep us occupied. Aerlingus also believes in keeping you fed, unlike American planes that dole out a peanut or two. The pilot landed us beautifully with hardly a bump.

 

Getting through the immigration line was fast and easy at Shannon. Since the airport is very small, everything is accessible and easy to maneuver. We found the ATM which only gave out 150 Euros at a time. But there are two machines which worked out okay. A money exchange booth is also present, for a fee, course. Once we had some Euros, we headed outside, breathed the fresh air, and boarded a bus for Galway. We discovered immediately that we enjoy bus rides through the gorgeous countryside. No stress of finding out way or inability to gaze out the window. We loved driving through quaint, often colorful and always tidy villages and seeing the landscapes which are simply picture postcards everywhere you look.

 

Arriving in Galway, we walked two blocks up to Eyre (pronounced ?air?) Square, a park surrounded by lots of small shops. A walk around found the Meteor shop where we met Dave, a delightful young man who gave us an introduction to the Irish warmth and friendliness we encountered numerous times. Dave worked very hard to fix up our phone and with 10 Euros the Blackberry was up and running at 35 cents per local call minute and 15 cents for international. Cheaper to call across the ocean. Isn't that weirdly interesting?

Off we went, only a few blocks walk, to meet Galway Tours for an afternoon exploring the Cliffs of Moher and a number of antiquities and more stunning scenery. Among other things, we saw Dunguire Castle, the Poulnabrone Dolmen, and the Burren, a strange, barren landscape of limestone that didn?t do much for me. The air was chilly to us and we were wishing for more clothes!

In mid-afternoon, the bus stopped in Doolin, a small village with a pub and a few stores. Not hungry, we walked around the village and explored a bit. The weather was quite cold here and windy but sunny. Sundy and I were tired but pushing through, loving every minute, and so glad to be on a bus instead of driving! We would have been deadly in a vehicle.

 

We reached the Cliffs of Moher and walked up a long flight of stairs to the top of a rise where we could look down at the sea and the cliffs. Magnificent, stunning, breathtaking! Down below we could see seabirds flying above the waves crashing against the cliffs. They looked as small as butterflies. The wind was the strongest we encountered on our trip, so strong that it pushed at our backs and made us have to hold on to keep from falling. And did I mention it was cold?! No rain, though, for which we were grateful.

 

 Our tour price included the visitor's center but if it hadn't we would not have paid to go in. It's just photos and videos of the more spectacular outside! A waste of money. There is also a climbing tower for another charge but the steps are steep and narrow. I guess the biggest disappointment is the way the area has become commercial, losing its wild beauty. But nonetheless, I am glad I saw this magnificent handiwork of God.

 

After the tour, Galway Tours trusty (and extremely knowledgable) driver, Ken, dropped us at our bed and breakfast, Coolin House in Salthill. Here we met Marion who showed us to very clean, very small room with a larger bathroom. It was nicely adequate but not fancy. No washcloths or toiletries but we weren?t expecting either.

 

After a few moments of unwinding, we were off to find food. Now, remember, we have not slept in a very long time and we are growing weary, but still pressing on. The Salthill area was bare of pubs and easy eating places - no fast food joints here or anywhere in Ireland that we visited. Thank goodness. As we walked, searching, we met a pair of Irish girls who directed us to Lohan's Pub - 3-4 minutes walk, they said. We learned that an Irish minute is much longer than an American one but finally found Lohan's after about 20 minutes and had a nice bowl of hot soup to warm our chilled Okie blood. Refreshed, we walked along the promenade beside the silvery waters of Galway Bay before heading back to the bed and breakfast where we collapsed for the night.

 

Day one in Ireland was fabulous!

 



-- Edited by gnight on Thursday 27th of June 2013 08:13:50 PM

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Linda Goodnight


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Linda,

Keep it coming. I like how you powered through the first day and enjoyed it even though you were sleep-deprived. It is usually chilly and windy at the Cliffs of Moher. You got a good day there. I've been there when it was so windy the waves were crashing and sending sea spray up and over the cliffs. So it was raining even though it was not raining.

Would love to hear more.

Michele

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Judy:

I agree about Cliffs, a spectacular place that is no longer the same experience that it was years ago.  With that in mind, when we returned to County Clare this spring, we skipped Cliffs with one first-time traveler in tow and went straight to the grand scenery at Loop Head. What a place that is, and it is quiet, serene, and relaxing.  If you haven't been there, I suggest you check it out the next time you are near the west coast.

We really found it wonderful.

Geno

A good photo here from  Loop Head Bird Observatory that shows the area -- no Disney atmosphere here like the Cliffs now rolls out...



-- Edited by Geno on Friday 28th of June 2013 04:02:35 PM

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The cash point by the money laundering booth is always the aim as the one facing arrivals gets hammered straight of flights and generally only has 50's left (useless as bus fare) Meteor is generally my 2nd option behind Tesco (but the store is outside the centre) The Moonscape has that umm rather than wow factor but is a very small part of the Burren the Black head drive though is worth the let down? No the visitors centre is a bit more umm but does have toilets.. using the "right of way" not paying to see the cliffs you don't get a ticket so don't get potty time. I would have thought your hostess would have pointed you towards some pub grub there is quite an offering in Salthill Lohans would have only been 5 mins walk from Coolin House.

Sorry for running through chronologically, great report so far, you will have to link your blog when you get that far (please)

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Linda,

Great details, I felt like I was right there with you every step of the way. Your comment about tearing up as you were flying into Shannon made me tear up also. That is exactly how I react each time as I fly into Ireland and see the beautiful patched quilt below with a cottage here and there on the ground.

Then you mentioned about breathing the fresh air....that is the first thing I want to do after landing. There is something so very special about the Irish air.

I support your disappointment about the Cliffs of Moher. We had been fortunate enough to visit before all the commercialization and were very disappointed after the new construction. However, I still believe it is a magnificent sight.

I look forward to the rest of your report. Keep the details coming.

Judy



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When I first visited the Cliffs of Moher in 1973 (yes I am an antique!) biggrin there was no one there but Dinny McMahon and the mermaids. The mermaids are legends now and Dinny has a memorial stone at "his" cliffs.



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Great first day report!

 

02I have a friend who only uses public transport when in Ireland. She loves interacting with the locals. Whilst on a bus on the ards peninsula, an elder woman patted the seat next to her and said "I've been waiting for you, dear" ... They had an interesting chat and when the Grey Abbey stop came both got off.  My friend said to the woman. "Nice chatting with you. I am off to meet someone"  The Woman said "If you are Mary Ann from Arizona, you've already met whom you've come to see. I'm Sara"... Things like that happen in Ireland, if you slow down enough biggrin

 

Once they commercialized the Cliffs of Moher, I, like Geno and so many other veteran travelers, found better places

Loophead is definitely a favorite, well off the beaten path and, so far, untouched by commercial entities.

The Sliabh Liags in Donegal are hands down my favourite. Unspoilt and not developed, usually just you and the sheep up there.

 

 

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