We’re on to Day 8, and this was one of my favorites. We went to Western Ireland to see the Cliffs of Moher, and they did not disappoint. I took many, many pictures. We also spent a lot of time on the train, so I wrote quite a bit about random stuff, like the phrases we’d been saying quite a bit, and what I was looking forward to getting back to.
6/10 Train to Galway
We’re currently waiting for the train to depart from Euston station in Dublin toward Galway. This morning went off more or less without a hitch. We woke up early, and were out the door by 6:30… I think it was bright out by around 4:30, so it looks like midday outside, and it’s 7:25. Only in America… wait, I mean..
So we got up, and were out the door, and after walking to the Dart station (the public transportation something or other… tram maybe? I dunno) we were told the best way is by bus.. so we went to the very nearby bus stop, and waited there for about 10 minutes, and the bus (another double-decker) arrived, and rapid gas/slam braked us all the way to the station.. we got in, and walked strait to the platform, and now we’re just leaving.
We got the 5 day flex pass for BritRail, which is supposed to give us any 5 days of travel on the train lines, and we can travel as much as we want during those 5 days… Well to record, I guess you’re supposed to write in the dates on your ticket each time you use it… I filled in the first day.. and since then have just left it blank, and the ticket checkers and platform attendants just wave me on through… I could travel for the next month for free …
I’ve just spent the last approx. 2 hours sleeping. turns to I was really tired. i couldn’t get to sleep quite fast enough last night, and then had to try to sleep to the snoring, which I’ve already explained I suck at. Anyway, I’ve been sleeping on the train, and it feels really nice. Outside it looks dark, cold, and ominous. Robb and I are wearing hoodies, and Joel has a long sleeve shirt. I would very much like it to be sunny and warm by the cliffs.
Popular sayings/quotes from the trip: We were at the station in Belfast waiting for the train to Dublin when this little boy (part of that field-hockey team), having watched almost half the team’s female population head to the bathrooms shortly before they were told to get on the train. [In a thick and therefore amusing Irish accent] “Why does everyone have to go to the bathroom?” It just sounded funny, and therefore we’ve latched on to it, and said it on occasion. Robb is still very much pushing the “We Built this City on Rock and Roll”… I can’t explain that one.. you just have to Know Robb, and then it makes sense. I’ve had stuck in my head since the ferry ride StrongBad’s techno song, with “The System is Down! The System is Down!” So I’ll start up the techno beat, then occasionally I or Robb will add in the synthesizer noises, then break into “The System is Down.”
Occasional Jim Gaffigan quotes are thrown in, much like a normal day back home.
Almost all day yesterday I had stuck in my head Craic Wisely singing “In Dublin’s Fair City, Where the girls are so pretty, I first set me eyes on sweet Molly Malone..”
“Give us a song, Paddy.”
Perhaps the most common “Who invited him!?” said from one to another in reference to the third. It’s been said by everyone about everyone at this point.. many, many times.
[An aside, it now looks lovely and Blue outside, and I very much hope it stays like this.]
[Another aside: All the signs here are written twice, once in English, and once in Gaelic]
So here’s something for you… we’ve been stopping at different stations along the way, then driving along through long fields with cows and sheep, etc… And I’ve been having Craic Wisely songs in my head for the last two days, and I’ve mentioned… Anyway, I started thinking “I wonder if any of these fields are Athenry” [Craic Wisely sings a song about/called the Fields of Athenry]. I kid you not, the very next second, the conductor announces “Next stop, Athenry” So we’re now speeding through the Fields of Athenry.
The weather s constantly switching between dark and Ominous an Sunny and Blue. We’ve not hit any rain yet, though, so I guess that part is good.
Another note.. never let Robb know you’re taking his picture… He’ll find any way he can to make his face look rediculous… It’s very funny.
6/10 Train to Dublin
We’re now on the train back to Dublin.. it hasn’t yet left the station.
So when we arrived in Galway, it began to rain..ike the second we stepped out of the train car…. so we made it over to information, and found out that there was a train leaving for the Cliffs of Moher at 10:30. It was around 10:25… So we got tickets, and headed on to the bus… The bus ride would take about 2 hours 15 minutes or so, I guess… and we had to leave at 1:30 in order to hit our train (the train I’m on currently.. which still isn’t moving.) As the bus continued we kept going from bright blue skies to dark rainy dull skies… and then back again. eventually we got out near the water, and it got very scenic… tall hills mixed with vast green fields crisscrossed with old timey stone fences, and littered with cows, sheep, and horses. As we started heading up these hills, the road started to snake.. and soon got really, really tight. The road itself was very narrow, and up the hills it would be hairpin turn after hairpin turn… The kind of turns you wouldn’t expect a bus to be able to make…. The kind of roads you thought only existed in luxury car commercials and The Long Long Trailer with Lucille Ball. But the bus made it through all the turns… Any time the bus approached another vehicle, especially another large vehicle like a truck or bus, it’d slam on the brakes and slow way down, and the two vehicles would pass with no more than a few inches tops between them.
Around now, the dude in front of my, [later identifying himself as Tyler] started talking… He said something to me about how he didn’t believe we were going on this road [with all the sharp turns and all] Joel said something like “yeah.. I didn’t think buses were supposed to do that.”.. and that was that. So his name is Tyler, and he comes from Scotland. he speaks quite good English, especially the swears. Anyway, his goal was to live in Ireland for a year, and travel all over, from North to South, and East to West… only the lady in charge of letting him in (not immigration, but something like that) said he didn’t have enough money.. so she’d only let him in for a month… he was pissed, but was now making the most of it. He asked about Dublin, and the Guinness tour, etc.. and we talked for a bit… and then we arrived at the Cliffs.
There are some things that you see pictures of and think “wow, that’s beautiful, I’d like to see that someday.” Then you go, and it’s really not all that great. It looks like the picture, sure, but then that’s pretty much it. Then there are other things, where you see a picture and think “Wow, that’s beautiful, I’ll have to see that some day.” And then you go, and it blows your mind. The Grand Canyon did that for me when I saw it… and the Cliffs of Moher just did it as well. They were spectacular. Huge, and gorgeous, and just breathtaking.
We arrived, and after a quick pits stop, we headed up one side.. It was really, really windy, but not raining (Yea!), and you could see for quite a ways (Yea! again) So we headed up one side, and took a ton of pictures. There was a fort or tower of some sort at the peak on this side [O’Brien’s Tower], but they wanted money to go to the top, and quite frankly, the view seemed better from outside it. Also, we were in a bit of a time crunch, as we arrived at around 12:15 and had to leave at 1:30. So we headed down that side (which was shorter than the other) and headed to the other. On the way, I saw this old woman totally bite it trying to climb the stairs… but she was okay.
In between the 2 sides was a rock platform (if you cut through a small opening in the rock fence) where you could stand out over the cliffs, and make your way to the edge and look down, so I headed there. (Conquering my now mild fear of heights in one determined step.) We took a bunch more pictures there, and I laid down to look over the edge and got a shot of that as well. It was dizzying, but really beautiful… and very very high.
6/10 Train to Dublin II
That section conquered, we started to ascend the other side. we all quickly noticed that there was no railing, no wall, no nothing between the path and the cliff itself, and at times, the path was within a couple feet of the cliff wall. So a bad step or two, and you’d be done. Such a park would not be allowed in the States, eh? Joel wondered aloud how many people have died up there… [or more accurately, Down at the bottom] I’m quite curious myself.. At least a few must have..
So we ascended the other side, taking pictures and videos every short while. This side jutted out and back in at the face of each cliff, and so we made it a decent ways in, finally reaching one of the juts and calling it good, as we had to head back to the bus at this point. I think we could have hung out there all day.. I know I certainly could have.
We’re now at Athenry station again.
So we headed back to the bus, and were eventually let on, and began heading back. I fell asleep fairly quickly, but was woken up when the bus hit the brakes kinda hard… There was a semi trying to go up, and we were trying to go down at one of those tight turns… So we ended up having to head back in reverse for a while and let him pass. That adventure behind us, I watched out the window all the way back to the station.
Once we made it back to the station we saw that we had about 2 and half + hours left before the train left, so Robb led us on, and we hit the city. We walked through some small streets packed with shops, and a singer/guitarist murdering such hits as “Hit the Road Jack” and “another song I can’t freaking remember now and it’s driving me Crazy” Classic. So we headed on through, and made it to a church (Galway Cathedral, I think).. So we went on in, and looked around [no charge] and took a few pictures. From there we headed on through town to another large church. inside this one, a kid (maybe 12ish) was playing the organ (seemed to be getting lessons. ) I thought he was quite good, though I’m by no means an expert on what is and isn’t complicated on an organ.. Leaving there, we started heading back, and eventually found a nice looking Pub/Sandwich Bar, and went in there for lunch. I had a small pizza, and it was wonderful. Joel had a chicken sandwich, and Robb had a Steak sandwich with a baked potato he made sure he got [The server was handing him his plate with the sandwich on it, and Robb said “And I’m supposed to have a baked potato” as the server was reaching for the next plate.. that was, in fact, Robb’s baked potato..2 baked potatoes to be exact.
We ate our food, and listened to some less than classic songs (“I Want It That Way” and “In Your Eyes” were among them.) then headed out to the station, and hopped on the train, and that leads us to now.
I’m quite tired.. Robb looks pretty tired as well. Joel is writing in his journal, but seems a bit tired as well.. I dare say tonight will be an early evening. We have our plan for tomorrow: We wake up early, head out to a Dart (train) station, and head out to the harbor, and get a Ferry to Holyhead.. From there we get a train to Cardiff, the capitol of Wales, to see the castle there, and probably spend the night there.. then the next day we’ll hit a train to Bath.. spend a short time looking around there, then hit Stonehenge, then move on to London, where we already have a Hostel booked for the next two days. The Next day (Sunday) we hope to hit Oxford and/or Cambridge, and perhaps some other place (of not both of the previous.) then head back to London at night. Then Monday (the day we leave) We’re going to get up early, and go to Westminster Abbey, tour that for a while, then see the changing of the guard, and then hit the Underground to the airport, and head on home. Woot!
6/10 Hostel in Dublin
We decided to walk from the train station to the Hostel… the trip was uneventful, and Robb [and Joel] seems to have a good handle on where everything is. Honestly, I’ve just been following along much of the trip, which I’m fine with, and assume that Robb and Joel are fine with. I get the impression Robb likes to plan things, and he’s done a ton of research, so he’s fairly fit to lead us from place to place. I’m also fairly easy going as far as what we do.. there were a few key things I very much wanted to see: the Cliffs of Ireland was my Number 1. (and we did that today, and it was well worth the whining/demanding) I wanted to see the famous stuff in London: the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, London/Tower Bridge, Westminster Abbey, Parliament, Big Ben, and the changing of the guard. and we saw (at the very least the outside of ) all of those, save for the Changing of the guard, which I’m fighting for, and I’m quite certain we’ll see Monday before we leave. Other than that, all i wanted was castles and suits of armor, and we’ve got both of them no problem.. Everything after that is just frosting. Oh, also.. Beer. I wanted to hit some pubs, since that was the original reason for the trip, and we’ve hit a fair number already. that all being said, I figure leaving the leading to others who want to pack more into each day makes sense, and Robb has been doing a fine job.
So anyway, we walked back to the hostel, and were chastised for taking the key with us.. apparently we were supposed to leave it here when we “popped out”.. can’t say I feel all that bad about it… I still don’t trust the Russians. Lousy communists.
The shower in this place has no real temperature adjuster.. it has one setting: way too freaking hot. The nice thing is that you don’t need soap… you just walk in and it vaporizes the first 5+ layers of skin right off.. The not so nice thing is that your entire body then bursts into flames, and you melt down the drain… I’d imagine other people, whose average shower temperature is not quite as scalding as mine tends to be, would find it even more troublesome.
We’ve been noticing that in every picture taken that features me with someone else, I look like a dwarf compared to them I’m thinking it has a lot to do with perspective, them standing closer to the camera added to my poor posture… also, I’ve been shrinking about 3 inches ever day. By the time we head home, I’m going to fit in Robb’s carry-on bag.
We managed to get by on just one meal today.. things are starting to feel more like home.
I cold go for some grape juice.
Grape Juice, and then Prime Rib. I’ll be going to Outback when I get home, and you should come with. We can split a Bloomin’ Onion.
Joel’s hair is long.
Looks like we’re planning on waking up early again tomorrow (6ish) So in theory I should go to sleep soon. All that riding in trains and buses apparently took it out of me.
An aside: 7.4 cent razors with one cheap blade and no shave gel suck big time. I’m chopping myself to pieces each time.