Friday, August 08, 2008

A Very Irish Road Trip

Armed with raincoats and tequila, the Five Foreigners (Me, Gergo (Hungary), Max (Australia), Veronica (Mexico) and Martin (Spain) ) headed off on a 3 day road trip to the West Coast of Ireland.

It all began with a much too early start on Saturday morning, followed by a 5 hour drive to Lisdoonvarna, a small village near The Burren, a famous area of lunar-looking karst landscape along the coast (pictured).

After arriving at our fantastic hostel- Sleepzone The Burren (highly reccommended!) we set off on a bit of sightseeing of the surrounding area, exploring megolithic tombs and ancient ruins, which seem to pop up almost everywhere you look.

The Cliffs of Moher were another highlight, also one of Ireland's most visited destinations. We had a tip from the hostel staff to go in the evening in order to avoid the crowds and the entrance fees, which we did. We got a partial sunset (a miracle for Ireland!) and headed back to the hostel for some much needed beers in the downstairs bar complete with traditional Irish music which went on deep into the night.

Saturday was a bit of a slow start but eventually we made it to Inisheer, the smallest of the Aran Islands, after an incredibly sickening boat trip. Every time I go on a boat I swear it will be my last, and this was no exception.

It took awhile recover from the sea-sickness but eventually we made it up from the sand and walked around the very small island. It really was like being in a different land and everything had a tinge of surreality to it.

The first thing that hit me when I got off the boat was the vast criss crossing of ancient stone walls across the island which didn't seem to serve much of a purpose. The island is littered with old ruins overlooking the water and all the houses are so quaint they could be mistaken for a movie set. The islanders pedomidently speak Irish and horse and cart seems to be the favoured transportation method.

While on top a ruin we noticed a huge, heavily rusted shipwreck looking very foreboding on the pebbles of the far beach. We decided to navigate our way through the wall maze and animals to check it out. When we got there there was almost no one around so we decided to climb up inside the ship and check it out.

It was a very eerie feeling being inside the ship, like walking through a ghost town in the middle of nowhere. After a Wikipedia check when we got home we discovered that it was shipwrecked in the 1960s and the entire crew saved by the Inisheer islanders. Quite an amazing feat.

Inisheer was definately one of the best parts of the trip despite injuring my foot by jumping onto a stone!

We played a few rounds of Texas Hold 'Em poker that night and left early for Galway city the next day. It was a pretty town, but very small.

It was a fantastic trip but all too short, and had left me with many more ideas of places to explore in Ireland.

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