Monday 29 April 2013

Ireland: Day Seven - Cong, Connemara, Galway, Cliffs of Moher and Bunratty

I woke up this morning feeling well rested for the first time since starting this trip. I knew it was going to be busy, but never thought it would be this go-go-go. The Atlantic Coast Hotel where we stayed has so far been the best in terms of room, bed and leisure centre. The main city area of Westport looks nice, but I learned from some who went into town yesterday that it was a bit disappointing because not everything was opened. It reminds me of Wasaga Beach just in the weeks before the summer/tourist season starts.

It turns out that I am lucky to have not yet fried my straightener. At dinner some people were taking about adapters and converters. Adapters being the thing that plugs in and allows me to charge my North American devices and converters being the thing that changes the voltage. Despite my electrical family, I am electrically challenged. I had no idea converters may be needed. I mentioned this to my dad, and he looked at my straightener and was amazed that I haven't blown something yet. He gave me a converter to use, but as of yesterday I was struggling with getting the straightener to turn on and when I tried the converter it wouldn't work. So I just went back to using the adapter but limiting myself to 30 seconds. Just enough time to do my bangs as I have been wearing my hair wavy anyways. Hopefully I don't destroy the straightener in the process - one woman made the same mistake and her curling iron fell apart and another blew a fuse and caused the hotel fire alarm to ring.

Today we made our way toward Galway and the Cliffs of Moher. We passed through the village of Cong which was the location for the classic John Wayne film ‘The Quiet Man’. We had only 20 minutes here but there wasn't a lot to see, it's a cute village but you can tell their real "claim to fame" is the movie. Every shop has posters, the book store had a whole table of books dedicated to it, the gas station has postcards and calendars ---- I gave a feeling there isn't much else that draws people to this town. But the people are very friendly - I spoke to a woman at the post office for a few minutes and she was asking about my trip and how I liked Ireland etc. I had just enough time to buy a few Quiet Man postcards and get my stamps.

Everyone on the bus is starting to try and find that book "The Paperboy" but since we are back in Ireland and away from Northern Ireland no one is having luck. I could have bought out all the copies and made a profit if I was more business inclined like my brother! In all seriousness I told people I'd help them look since I tend to stop in every bookstore we pass.

We passed through Connemara county into Galway... For some reason I have had that Galway Girl song stuck in my head. Probably due to it being catchy and that I heard it at two pubs. I think it's one of the more popular Irish songs. Speaking of songs, dad doesn't think his Irish CD will play at home... Brian, I think he has a task for you! :)

We stopped for a 30 minute break at the Connemara Marble factory/store. There was a demonstration of the marble and the process as well as a store that made jewellery. It was nice, but truth be told it was kind of pointless. I would have much rather spent an hour at Cong rather then stop here. Or spent more time in Galway.

Then we stopped in Galway City for an hour and fifteen minutes. This was nowhere near enough time. Galway is definitely a city I want to return to. Its such a cute town, with all these small streets with shops and pubs. There are guys singing and playing Irish music on the street, and these old style European streets/allies. It reminded me more of other areas of Europe, rather then what I would think of as Irish. I took a bunch of pictures, but only went into one store. Dad and I ended up at a bistro where we had Tomato Basil Soup - the best soup I have had so far. We rushed back to get to the bus since it was such a small window, but ended up waiting nearly 30 minutes past our time for everyone to return. If I had known I would have spent a few more minutes exploring.

We drove along the southern shores of Galway and went up a very steep and narrow hill where the road was a bit scary. This brought us to a viewing point which was called "Corkscrew Hill" which offered a fantastic photo opportunity. After that we ended up at the Cliffs of Moher. According to the Internet, "The Cliffs of Moher have appeared in numerous media. In cinema, the cliffs have appeared in several films, including: The Princess Bride (1987) (as the filming location for "The Cliffs of Insanity"), Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009),and Leap Year (2010)." (Thanks Brian for sending me that info!) He also sent me a link to a clip from Princess Bride that shows them:

When we got there it was a very sunny day, but incredibly windy. The bus was shaking and when you stepped out you could feel the wind pushing you. We went to the main viewing point, but didn't go further because the wind + massive cliffs = scary! We got some good photos, but only from the one angle. It was an incredible experience - the cliffs are just massive and awing. I was glad to get back to the bus through because the wind made it very cold.

Tomorrow we have 2 people leaving which is unfortunate because they are really nice and fun. If I had to pick someone to leave it wouldn't be them. The tour is two weeks, but it connects to two, one week ones. So the two leaving just did the one week, and then we have 7 more joining for their one week tour. It messes up our being spread out in the back. I don't mind - I have the last seat which I am keeping - but Dad is losing his little space!

I am surprised by how many "for sale or for let" signs I am seeing. It seems like a lot of areas of Ireland have been hit by the economy. There are even some huge, really old buildings for sale. Tonight we had an option to go to Bunratty Castle for a medieval banquet. Initially the itinerary called for a different event at the castle but its not running yet. So the other one was offered in its place. The tour wanted 60.00 Euro each for this - which was summed up as basically a higher end medieval times. Most of the bus is opting to pass - dad and I included. Actually when I looked in my guidebook and online, tickets are only 39.00 Euro so obviously the tour company is making a profit. As such dinner isn't included so we were in our own. The tour guide recommend a place nearby, but it was a pub. I had heard of a really good seafood restaurant pretty close called Gallagher's, so dad and I went there. It was amazing. By far the best meal on this trip/in awhile. I'm glad we did our own thing, it was nice to get away from the group for a bit.

We have driven over so many roundabouts that I have lost count. Each one makes me smile because my mom HATES them. Whenever she encounters one she can't escape from, she launches into total anger and swearing mode at her detest for them. It's amusing to watch, so I think of her at each one. Mom, you should never ever attempt to drive here! (I miss you! Xoxo)

We are only in this hotel for one night, then we are off to Killarney where we will stay for three nights. It will be nice to have a longer stop and hopefully they have laundry facilities or services.

Also I am not sold on my blog title - any suggestions please email or comment.

Photo One: Cong
Photo Two: Me in Cong
Photo Three: Scenery
Photo Four: Scenery
Photo Five: Streets of Galway
Photo Six: A book theme pub in Galway
Photo Seven: A cool statue
Photo Eight: Canada Flag! :)
Photo Nine: Bridge in Galway
Photo Ten: These stone walls that are all over Ireland - date back hundreds of years
Photo Eleven: Corkscrew Hill View
Photo Twelve: Scary Narrow Roads
Photo Thirteen - Eighteen: Cliffs of Moher (lots of pictures for Brian)
Photo Nineteen: Random castle
Photo Twenty: Little stores in the rock of the cliffs - someone said they look like hobbit shops!
Photo Twenty-One: Me on bus
Photo Twenty-Two: Our hotel
Photo Twebty-Three: My room

1 comment:

  1. I've updated your tour map, and I added in the places you're going tomorrow, if you want to sneak a peek before you leave for them. :) Have fun!