Well, I'm starting a blog. I've been meaning to do it for some time now, but am just getting around to it. It's an odd thing. Blogging means that you think your life is interesting enough that people will want to read about it. I don't know if this is true, but I figured I would give it a shot anyway. This is a blog about my travels and quest to live fearlessly. Welcome.

- Christina

Sunday 30 June 2013

Ireland: Land of a Thousand Welcomes (Part 2)

And so our voyage around Ireland continues...

     The previous posts were all from Ireland's West Coast. This part of the country is more developed and has bigger cities with more attractions. The East side of the island, which we explored next, is full of small towns, natural wonders, and breathtaking scenery.
     KILLARNEY: We arrived in Killarney, dropped off our stuff at a hostel, and headed for Killarney National Park. This is a huge, 26,000 acre park. The grounds were beautiful. We walked through until we reached Ross Castle. We took a tour of the castle, and being fairly exhausted, we headed back for the night.

 Ross Castle.
     In the morning we took a bus tour of the Ring of Kerry. This tour circles the peninsula in Kerry and boasts some of the most beautiful sights in all of Ireland. Unfortunately for us, this was the day of our worst weather. It was so cloudy, foggy, and rainy that we could barely see anything! We couldn't complain though, we were extremely lucky with weather for the majority of our trip. Luckily our tour guide was very experienced, he had been doing the tours for 40 years, and he was able to ensure we had a good time. He taught us a lot about Irish history, real-estate, cows, and fuel. One of the most interesting things he showed us were the famine ruins. In the 1800s the Irish suffered through the Great Famine. There was simply no food, and many died. The houses the people lived in were extremely small, usually one roomed buildings made of stone. Many of these houses still lay on the country side. Our tour guide said that someone, who doesn't even know it, owns them, so luckily for us they can't be torn down. Although we didn't get to see the traditional Ring of Kerry sights, we still had a great time and gained some valuable knowledge.

 Ring of Kerry.

 Famine House.
The last stop on our bus tour was at Torc falls. It was a short hike up to see a beautiful waterfall. 

     DINGLE: The weather was much better the next day, so we decided to drive to the Dingle peninsula. On our way we came across a beautiful beach, and decided to stop. The weather was sunny and warm, but with a bit of a breeze. The beach was beautiful. I did not expect the water in Ireland to be so clear and blue, it almost looked like the beaches in the Bahamas!

     Now it was off to explore the Dingle Peninsula, which was full of beautiful coastal sights and many historical ruins. While driving along the coast of the Dingle peninsula, it was amazing how much history Ireland has. Off the side of the road you can find forts from 500BC, ancient oratories, and intact famine ruins. It was mind-blowing to be immersed in so much history. 

Famine House.

 Gallarus Oratory.
      Once we were done driving the Dingle peninsula, we had to find a place to stay. We had stayed in hostels the 3 previous nights, and it was pretty expensive and not nearly as fun as CouchSurfing. We headed to a cafe to use their Wifi and started looking for CSing hosts. We found Paddy and Sean, and they let us come over right then! Paddy and Sean are musicians who play in an Irish/Latin band, neat right? They welcomed us right away. It just so happened that Paddy's computer had broken when they were trying to record a song, and David was able to fix it for them. Paddy was so excited. He said it was fate that brought us together. They took us to a really cool Irish pub that had traditional Irish music. That was the first time we heard the bodhran, a traditional Irish hand drum. The atmosphere in the pub was something we had never experienced before. It was clam, friendly, almost family like. Everyone knew each other and welcomed strangers. Everyone was there to relax and have a good time. One of the things that David and I loved about Ireland was the friendliness of the people. In Ireland if you are sitting at a table with 3 empty chairs, those chairs are not off limits. Those chairs are for friends you haven't made yet. It is customary to sit down and introduce yourself, and enjoy the strangers company. Everywhere we went we felt at home and as if we were with friends. I love Ireland. 

     MOHER: Ah, the Cliffs of Moher. This was one of the things I was most excited about! The Cliffs of Moher can be compared to the Grand Canyon. For those of you who think it's not all that special, and smartly remark "how long do I have to look at it?" this isn't for you. I loved the Grand Canyon. David and I stayed all day admiring it's beauty. The Cliffs were the same. They were breathtaking, both because of their beauty, and because they were scary as hell. The cliffs have a 702 feet vertical drop into the Atlantic coast, and only some parts of that are fenced. We walked along the cliffs for a while, and then headed back up the other side. There's not much to say about them, and pictures don't do it justice. Just go, trust me. The visitor center was really cool. It was built in the side of the hill, hobbit style. They did this so they didn't take away from the natural beauty of the cliffs. 
 Visitor Center.

Don't fall off!
     After the cliffs we went to our next hosts' house. Here we met Derek, Christian, and Ashling. They were three young Irish students living in Lahinch, a small surf town- yes people surf in Ireland, we were surprised too. Derek, Christian, and Ashling took us to a pub and we just hung out talking. On our way back to the house Derek made us link arms in the middle of the street, do a dance, and sing a song. He said it was Lahinch tradition, but people seemed to be staring, lol. He then took us to look at the shore, although you could barely see anything at night. We had a wonderful time with them, and they are truly our fiends now; that's the beauty of CouchSurfing. 

     DONEGAL: From Lahinch we took the coastal route all the way up to Donegal, which was our last stop in the Republic of Ireland. We drove most of the day and didn't get to our host's house until dinner time. All of our other hosts had been young people like ourselves, but this time we decided to stay with a family. Sharon is a meditation coach that lives in the blue-stack mountains with her four kids. She welcomed us into her home and we had our first home-cooked meal in almost 2 weeks. Sharon was amazing. We sat up late talking with her, and had another talk in the morning. She was wise and gentle, and very easy to talk to. She gave me some wonderful life advice, and I am very happy to have met her. After our one short night with Sharon we went off to explore the Slieve League Cliffs, per her suggestion. They were similar to the Cliffs of Moher, but much smaller. Unfortunately as soon as we got there it began raining, and we had about a mile walk back! We ran back to the car and decided it was best to cross the border into Northern Ireland and meet up with our host there.
Slieve League Cliffs. 

1 comment:

  1. I am enjoying reading your posts. I am glad you were able to make it to the cliffs of Moher. You will have to see the Aran Islands and Galway next time you visit. I enjoyed both of those places. There is a ferry to the islands very near to where you were with the cliffs, part of a small town called Doolin.