The next morning met us bright and early. We were slated to embark on a day tour of the Irish countryside, which included quite a packed itinerary. We had to get to Dublin’s Heuston Station by 6:40 AM, which was unfortunate because the buses did not start running until that time. Our only option was to take another taxi, which wasn’t so bad and allowed us to arrive with several minutes to spare.
After checking in and grabbing a few scones from the bakery at the station, we boarded our train heading to Limerick. This was just a quick spot in our journey – literally, we just got off the train and got on a bus. There were only 8 of us on the tour, including our guide, who was a friendly and elderly Irish man with a thick accent. This meant that the bus was practically empty, and felt oddly spacious after travelling in so many cramped spaces.
Leaving Limerick, we arrived at our first true destination – Bunratty Castle. This is a small castle that was refurbished out of ruin, and generally has all new decor in the interior. To me, it was reminiscent of one of those attractions you might visit on a middle school field trip, where they try to mix in little bits of history and reenactment with the thrill of an old site. It even had one of those cheesy villages with the fake houses and living rooms set up inside that you could walk into. Therefore, it definitely wasn’t my favorite castle, but hey, a castle is still a castle.
We perused the “village” and walked through the houses, noting how short everyone used to be. And then it was time for our next stop – Doolin. You might be wondering, is that a place where stupid people live? No, it’s not. It just has a strange and unfortunate name.
We changed buses at the Castle, because the tour director realized how silly it was to be driving a giant bus with only eight people on it. This bus was much smaller, more like a large shuttle van, and more appropriate. Driving through the countryside offered us an ample glance at the beauty of Ireland. And then, we arrived to the coast…
If I could pick anywhere in the world to live and build a house, it would probably be here. It’s just gorgeous. We were lucky enough to have a brilliantly sunny day, so everything really shined in its true glory.
Lunch was had in a traditional Irish pub not far from the coast. An Irish jig filled the air as fiddlers piped out their tunes. A pint of Guinness was consumed in true traditional fashion, and we were set to continue on.
Finally, the moment we had all been eagerly anticipating all day had arrived. We ascended the curvy mountainous road at peril speeds, winding along in our bus as though the world depended on us to arrive at a precise time. Sunlight streamed through the window, blinding me, tempting me, revealing to me the endless hills and shimmering blue waves. The ascent slowed. The bus stopped. We were there.
The Cliffs of Moher.
After seeing pictures of these Cliffs, this was the one thing I really wanted to visit in Ireland. And for good reason. Take a look at this photo and see what I mean:
I would go into some poetic, drawn-out description of how I was moved and how it touched my soul and whatnot, but I don’t think it’s necessary. Sometimes, a picture really is worth a thousand words.
After trekking around the edge for an hour, we left the Cliffs. The day was still young, and we still had quite a journey to complete. Boarding the bus, we continued through Ireland with a cheeky commentary from our tour guide. Unfortunately, perhaps due to the lulling accent and the early morning start time, it caused us to become a bit drowsy and dose off at certain points. Nevertheless, at our next stop, our senses were revived when we took a look out the window.
The Burren is a massive limestone region covering nearly 250 square kilometers. It is filled with archaeological history and is one of the most impressive rocky regions in the world. Stepping out onto its hard surface made me feel as though I were on some foreign planet, exploring a new world that no man had ever touched. But I couldn’t have been farther from the truth. Those rocks have been touched by so many others, have been lived on and worn and smoothed by the pressings of many feet. I was just one in a million, longing for their own unique experience in a world that has been conquered and divided to the max.
Leaving with a cozy feeling in my heart, we continued on the road until we reached our final destination, Galway City. A charming little city along the coast, Galway was the perfect way to end our adventurous day. My mother and I cruised along the aptly named Shop Street, hopping into souvenir shops and eventually stopping at a pub for a bit of afternoon tea.
We also visited the church, Galway Cathedral, on the advice of our tour guide, who called it a really unique and interesting place. I was disappointed – it looked like any old shabby church in the US with modern construction and a few statues. Whatever.
A bit ravenous from our trek, we stopped in at a local pizza joint to pick up a pizza for the train ride home. It was a delicious way to end the night, and we feasted upon it as the journey back to Dublin began.