I haven’t written anything down since the Aran Islands. The following morning on the 14th, we took a day just to relax. The riding on Inishmoor wore us both out, and I was begining to feel a little like I was going to come back from my vacation feeling as tired and worn out as when I left. So while Jon wandered around the Galway, I layed around my hotel room and flipped through the channels of the TV. At around two or three, I stepped out to the cafe next door to give the maid a chance to clean and met up with Jon a little bit later.
On Thursday we took the Burren and Cliffs of Moher (pronounced MOE-her) day tour. We didn’t have as many chances to stop the bus as I’d like, but it was a good way to see a lot of country.
The Burren is a barren landscape of mountainous terrain south of Galway. On the tour we saw a 5000 year old tomb called a Dolmen, a rather extensive cave, and of course the Cliffs of Moher (a grand spectacle that towers 700 feet above the ocean). A grand day and a chance to take a lot of photos, few of high enough quality to be considered art, but I’ll do my best.
We ate at a pub called McSwiggens that evening, a pricey place but with pretty decent food. I had trouble sleeping that night for some reason. I was pretty tired and fell asleep at 8:00pm and woke up again about 2:00am. There were a lot of people partying outside and some shenanegans going on, twice around that time someone set off the fire alarm. It was humourous just to watch Jon’s reaction. ;)
This morning, Friday, we got up and packed our bags, and check out. We had hoped to catch some of the parade, but it didn’t make it to our point on the route before we had to leave for our bus to Cork. Now I’m sitting on the bus writing this note, and wondering what it will be like to spend time with Jon’s Irish friends.
1) Buildings in Ireland come in two types. Most houses and cottages and stores along the streets are built with cinder blocks and covered with cement then painted a bright color. The roofs are mostly tiled, but some are still thatched. The thatching is done with reeds nowadays and is supposed to last up to 15-20 years before needed to be replaced. The thatched roofs will often have ornate designs at the peak showing celtic knott work and other such designs. The other type of house is made of stone, usually small cottages or castles or much older buildings and churches are like this. There are of course, some very modern bildings of steel and glass, but there are much fewer than you would expect.
2) In Dublin, Galway, and Limerick (as we passed through), none of the buildings go much higher than 4-5 stories. In that respect it reminds me of Washington, D.C. On the other hand, the landscape reminds me very much of Pennsylvania. The landscape is hilly, very green, and filled with small sections of field and little homes. The stone walls are less common away from the coast and outside of Galway. On the bus driving to Cork, the landscape took on a much larger scale, the lots and buildings were much more modern and larger on the whole.
3) The Irish decorate their highways with modern art. I’ve seen several on the bus to Cork.
4) The way they paint the roads in Ireland is backwards. The use White lines to seperate opposite traversing lanes, and to seperate lanes going in the same direction. They use yellow lines on the outside of the road and the lines are dashed, not solid as you might expect if you were from the states.
5) Some of the roads are very small and almost comical. There were places in the Burren and in the little villages off the more beaten path where the two lane roads were really just a single lane road with a line painted down the middle of it. Somehow or another our bus managed to get through all of them without hitting anybody. Like in Africa, cars will often have to stop or pull off the road to allow the bus room. In fact, the only difference is that in Ireland the cars and bus will both slow down when passing in close quarters, where in Africa they pass at full speed. ;)
6) Ireland is a mix of the very old and the very new. I expect the fact that this seems odd or interesting to me is because America is so young that heritage that dates back thousands of years is rare if not non-existent. Our cities are all pretty young, even New York and the cities along the eastern seaboard who were among the first to be built, are young compared to the age of Europe. Ruins of castles and homes still sit in fields next to modern cottages.
7) Though I wouldn’t even begin to be able to describe it, there is a noticeable national character to the physical look of the Irish people.