Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Cead Mile Failte Ireland



That means 1,000 welcomes in Gaelic and we really did feel welcomed!

Ireland greeted us with sunny, warm weather, very unlike what we had been prepared for. I was looking forward to a cold, foggy trip to the Cliffs of Moher – thought that would make great photography – but as we approached it, we found ourselves shedding layers and were quite surprised, and challenged, to discover bright sunlight displaying the cliffs to us in all of their glory. I set the tripod up and attempted a panoramic view. Don’t think I captured it, in it’s noontime sunlit glory, but it we did witness a spectacular vista.

We drove on, frustrated by the roads. Driving was more challenging than we had ever anticipated. We were prepared for the left side of the road challenge and even the perplexity of the left side driver’s seat. We’ve both driven stick shifts, albeit not on the left, but the twisty windy roads that weren’t wide enough for the traffic…and ongoing, constant impatient cars behind us really made it quite impossible to appreciate the unique landscape we were now having set out for us. The eternal green fields were filled with a bright yellow bush (gorse?), interspersed with massive, wild, purple rhodedendrums and wildflowers and a variety of many other nicely contrasting colors and the view seemed to go forever. The Burren! People had told us to visit it and we weren’t quite sure what it was…it was kind of like the Grand Canyon. Acres of rock and mountains of rock and fields of rock interspersed with flowers. Outrageous – you can’t imagine it until you see it.

I don’t think it helped the traffic situation that it was Sunday – going through towns seemed even more treacherous than out in the country. People were walking to church and they use the same roads you drive on. Andy was mega-stressed with the driving. We each took turns, but between the shift on the left side and the crazy Irish drivers, we were off to a bit of a frustrating start. Then we came to the roundabouts. Between sleep deprivation, honking and hitting the left curb, we were not off to a good start. We finally navigated our way to the first B&B we saw – in the Salt Hill section of Galway - I believe it was called Bohalo B&B and we took a nice midafternoon nap.

We awoke and took a nice walk exploring the area, searching for a view of the bay. My bladder led us back to our lodgings and we attempted the car again and drove west in search of dinner. I had a Salmon salad and afterwards we walked around the town. It was a warm, beautiful evening and we finally felt welcomed to Ireland.

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