Ireland

Our flight is delayed by an hour or so. Not a big deal. We aren’t on a schedule.

We arrive into Dublin by plane. We make our way through immigration and baggage claim and customs. Though not without some drama and aggravation. It seems the ppassports fell out of someone’s pockets while on the plane and so we don’t have them when we get to immigration. An airport employee tells us to wait in line for immigration and that they will let us through to get to the airline desk to inquire to see if they have been found. Turns out this is true. Of course, though, because we are not European, we are escorted and our immigration escort waits with us for the passports to show up. And that takes about 45 minutes. We have a nice chat while we wait. He is quite friendly, I think, although Laney tells me later she got a strange ‘not trusting’ vibe from him. Like he thought we were lying. I suppose what he passed as conversation may have been a bit of a test. In case the passports were not immediately found he would have as much information as possible to make a judgement call of what to do with us.  This kind of thing doesn’t bother me at all. I have literally nothing to hide and feel our ‘story’ is a good, honest, positive one.

Our host meets us at the door of our airbnb and shows us around. I am immediately out to get some groceries. The Uber driver told us tonight is when 15 and16 year old get their exam results so it might be a little crazy out. I am definitely cooking. Plus I haven’t cooked anything substantial in a while.

Laney enjoys some alone time in the bedroom and I enjoy some wine and cooking. It was a nice chill night. Don our host comes and goes while I talk to Matt and Dad on FaceTime. I don’t think either of them (Matt or Dad) is too happy about us staying in a guys apartment but Don was great and I don’t think posed any threat to us if you know what I mean.

I manage to get a load of laundry done. Much needed. Ha.

A quiet night followed by a slow morning. It’s amazing what travel takes out of you!  And the last couple places we were only there a few nights each so we have had more then our share of travel days lately.

We finally get out around early afternoon.  We wander to the Temple Bar area though intermittent heavy rain. And I try to find this pedestrian street I visited with Bob and Jeannine when we were here years ago (1999). I think I found it but it’s not the same. No biggie. Laney spots a merengue (bezy) bigger than her head in a shop window so we go in. I notice the food smells GREAT and it’s a hot and cold buffet at a tiny restaurant so I get a few things. So glad I did-  it was awesome. I realize everything is house made with no preservatives. This is why it smells and tastes so good. It’s not cheap but it’s so worth it. I want to eat here every day. Ha.

After that Laney and I do some shopping. At H and M as usual. We both get a couple new tops. We are SO SICK of the clothes we have. Laney is much more tolerant of this than I am. And she has probably only 60% of the clothes I have. I do miss my wardrobe at home.  I can buy new stuff but then I have to get rid of something. That can be hard. Plus I don’t want to pay a lot for anything because at some point THAT ITEM will be in the toss pile. Ah well. I know you don’t feel one bit bad for me. Ha.

We stop at a cool microbrewery and pub for a rest then head home to drop our stuff.

    

We head to Bram Stokers Castle Dracula.   Unfortunately, it only opens on Friday and Saturday nights. So we head back home and I prepare some dinner. I manage to convince Don we have enough food for him too so we have dinner together, the three of us. Don is in software similar to me but I think he’s a developer. We also share a passion for living below our means and saving money. I guess that’s why he opens his home to airbnb-ers . For the extra cash.C

We head to bed and get up the next morning pack up and head to catch our bus to Galway. Can’t wait to see the Cliffs of Moher and do some caving. Whatever that is. Ha. ITS MY BIRTHDAY!! I pop around the corner from the bus station to get Laney a subway and realize I’m close to that great buffet restaurant again so I get their AMAZING chicken salad to go. Yay!

Arriving in Galway at the bus station we pick up a taxi and are dropped at our airbnb. Paul is very welcoming and shows us to our room and shows us how the hot water and shower work. Our room is very small and our mattress is on the floor. It’s going to be a cramped few nights. It’s not my favorite place ever. It feels a bit like college kids live here although I suspect Paul is much older than that. Paul tells us that his band will be playing traditional Irish music at a local pub tonight and I say we would love to go see them. He texts me the name of the place and then Laney and I go in our room to relax a bit. It is at this point, we ask Paul and find out there is no wifi in the house. YIKES. You might think this is no big deal but it kind of is. It’s not like in the US where your phone does pretty much everything you need, though maybe a little slow.  Many times things don’t work at all on my phone and Laney has no service at all. To get around we will need google maps, bus schedules, etc.  hmm.  Plus Laney needs a new book to read and her schoolwork is wifi dependent. We put our stuff in a bag and decide to walk to the center of town. We see a bus at the bus stop and decide to give it a shot. It’s the bus stop the taxi driver told us to use to get into town.  But many bus stops have multiple bus routes but take a chance. We pay and sit and feel like we are going in the right direction. And we are, and we get off at Eyre Square and walk into the bustle of things. I saw the pub where our hosts are playing tonight on our way there. So that’s settled.  We pick up a few necessities at the pharmacy then I spot a vodaphone store. I say let’s go see about a SIM card. Laney is skeptical because it wasn’t easy getting one in Germany but I say we give it another shot. This time it’s so much smoother!! We even get extra data because Laney is a student and I have our passport cards to prove it.  So now we have data. Laneys phone is now WAY faster than mine and we are told the data is good for 30 days in all of Europe. Perfect. We will be in Europe for almost exactly 30 more days.

We do a bit of window shopping and wandering around then we head to the pub just in time for the 6 pm start. We order drinks (Latte for Laney) and eventually dinner and we enjoy the music. It was very nice. Our host Paul is playing a single drum that he holds. His roommate Tara is playing fiddle and a guy we never meet plays the guitar and I think a banjo. After that we wander a bit. Try to get on a bus but it goes the wrong way so we get off and grab a taxi home.

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The next day we have a bit of an adventure planned. A small group tour to include the cliffs of moher, caving, and cliff diving. Oh and lunch 🙂

It was a great tour, by the way. If you’re headed to Galway and looking for a great adventure tour experience, check out www.epicireland.com. Also search for videos on youtube!

The tour picks us up at our Airbnb early, like 8am. We pick up a few more people and take about an hour drive out to what seems like the middle of nowhere. We are ‘geared up’ in what, to us, seems like striper gear. Waterproof jackets and pants, and boots. We are given helmets with headlamps. And we walk a ways up the ‘road’, into the beautiful woods, and Emma, as it’s her birthday, is told to go first into the cave entrance, which looks very small, and muddy, and Emma says it smells bad. Yuck. I’m not sure I’m up for this! Micheal says it opens up inside. Well, he has Emma turn around for a picture and then announces “We’re not going in there! Are you nuts!? It’s awful! Get out of there Emma!” He was just kidding but Emma got to get all muddy. HA. Poor Emma.  Anyway, he then led us further to a more respectable looking cave entrance. It was in a hole in the ground and water was coming down by the opening. But it at least looked like you could walk into it (not crawl like Emma did).

Off we went into the cave. Micheal asked if anyone was claustrophobic. We all said no. He said we would know in the first 5 minutes if it was an issue. We entered the cave, it was walkable height, but very narrow. It was really cool. The water had been running through this path for thousands of years, which created the cave in the limestone. The bedrock, above our heads, was as flat as a ceiling in your house. That rock is too hard to be dissolved by the water, apparently.

In walking through the caves, and we did walk most of the time, sometimes you needed to walk sideways to fit, with your butt inching alone one wall while your feet braced the floor edge on the other side. At times we had to climb up, like up a water fall. Or crawl through a small crevice. Not too often, though. There were great formations above and around us. And often a white line on the floor, the calcite, I think it’s called. At one point, we turned around and headed back, and then Micheal put me in the lead (we all took turns leading through the whole 2-hour period) and he told us all to grab the person in front of us by the shoulder and turn off our headlamps. We walked in complete darkness. I was in the lead so was careful with my steps, and, as Micheal instructed, told the person behind me what to expect. We had done this all along but it was more important in complete darkness. WOW. what an experience. It was messy, wet, muddy, and cramped, but really really fun!

After that, we removed all our gear, changed into dry clothes (at times we walked through water a foot deep, so it went OVER our boots and our feet and lower legs were wet), and Micheal drove us to a small cafe in Doolin. We had an AMAZING lunch of home made soup and chicken salad sandwiches on the famous Brown Bread of Ireland. Then, he drove us to the Cliffs of Moher.

What an amazing sight. Not only that, but Micheal knew of some quiet places to go to see it. He dropped us at a gate and pointed in the direction to go. He said ‘when you see signs telling you not to go, that it’s dangerous, just keep going’. HA. This is my kind of guy.   There was hardly anyone around. I felt so privileged . While we were viewing the Cliffs from a glorious spot – quiet and hardly anyone there but the 6 of us – we could see people walking the top of the Cliff. Surely that is fun and interesting, but, really, the viewpoint we had was so much better. We could SEE the Cliffs, not look down on them. The spot was completely ‘hidden in plain view’. It was basically a walk from the road through a farmer’s land full of cows. Apparently it’s OK with the farmer. HA.

 

SO the down side was, it started to rain, so Laney and I started to hustle back down the path to get to the bus. AND, Laney twisted her ankle. Badly enough that she pretty much could NOT walk. I carried her a bit, then Emma and Rachael came back and took turns carrying her (piggy back style). It was so sweet of them. I could not have done it myself.

Next up was to be the cliff diving. Laney had already decided she didn’t want to jump in the cold Atlantic water, but she had planned to go with us and watch us do it (Emma, Rachael and I. There was another couple with us for caving but they opted to do the Cliffs hike instead of the cliff diving). Well, clearly Laney could NOT make the 20 minute hike to the diving spot, so she bravely and selflessly told me to go while she stayed in the van, parked at the Doolin Inn (no, it was not dangerous to leave her there, trust me, i was there).

Well, the hike there was a bit strenuous for this American. Not for the Irish folks, though. They are so much more used to walking and treacherous ground than I am ! HA. I managed to keep up and not look like the ‘old person’ which I was now that the other couple had left us for the hike. HA.

We got there, and expected it to be deserted, but there was a group of guys there, wrapping up doing what we were about to start. We donned bathing suits and wetsuits – I was cold just from the walk! The idea of jumping into the water did not appeal to me, but I knew I had to do it. Micheal had mentioned a cave in the water that we could jump from the top. I looked at that cave and my heart fell into my stomach. It was pretty darn high! and the ocean looked a bit treacherous to me.

Emma and Rachael had no intention of jumping from any kind of height so Micheal pointed them to a low cliff and told me to follow him. Well, there is no record of this first jump and it’s just as well. I was terrified, of course, but I had no idea what I was doing. Micheal tried to explain, definitely land on your feet NOT your back or butt or you will DEFINITELY FEEL IT. Guess what I did? Not intentionally, of course, but I landed on my butt. Even with a wetsuit, I swear I haven’t felt that kind of sting EVER in my life. Followed, of course, by the shock of the cold water! Yikes! I couldn’t move my legs for about 5 minutes while I merely paddled to the nearest rock. The sting VERY SLOWLY wore off. While we jumped from some lower cliffs. Then, it was time to jump from the top of the cave. I think it’s about the same height as the first jump. But now, I am equipped with the knowledge of how much it hurts if you land badly. HA!

Well, I did it. it was awesome. still makes my heart pound thinking about it, and it was like a month ago now!

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We headed back to the van, Laney was completely content having had some screen time and rest for her ankle. Michael was kind enough to stop by a store for us on the way to dropping us home, to get some food (and wine) for the night, knowing we wouldn’t be able to go anywhere without a car.

WOW what a day.

The next day we were going to do something. Micheal had offered to take us on his other adventure tour, free of charge, but Laney couldn’t walk, so we chilled at home. I got Laney a cane to help her walk (but she refused to use it so we left it there, HA).

The next morning, we were out of there. Bus to Dublin, Flight to Barcelona!

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