March 31, 2008- Aran Islands/Doolin

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Europe » Ireland » County Clare » Doolin
March 31st 2009
Published: April 3rd 2009
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We had a early call this morning. The alarm rang at six and we were out the door before 8am. We made a quick atm stop and then started heading south. On route, we stopped at a Centra for a little breakfast and encountered a very nice sales woman who brightened all of our days by calling us “love”. As we nibbled our breakfast in the car, we headed south from Galway towards Doolin. We were flying in the car because we were trying to make a ferry to the Aran Islands. At one point, we were going to have to pass a huge lorrie (truck) and my tendency is to hit the brakes… but this time Tara coached me thru it…”Don’t slow down, you can do it” and so I speed our little Toyota right pass the truck and never looked back. At this point I think we should clarify about the roads in Ireland. The roads are tiny…. Most country roads are about 1.5 car width’s wide…so passing is a challenge. Most times I cringe a little as if pulling in my right shoulder will somehow make the car smaller. I should also point out that when we pass other cars, the two passages get treated to an up close view of the hedgerow which sometimes includes telephone poles and rocks as Jessica likes to remind me. So our trek toward Doolin was a little rushed, but we did get to see the Burren, which is a very unusual area of Ireland where the ground is covered almost entirely by rock. This area also contains lots of usual plants. We made it to the ferry around 10:15 for the 10:30 ferry, which was perfect. At this time of the year there are less ferries out to the Aran Islands, so we had a limited choice. And although we all were intrigued by the Jack B ferry company (which we believed was a rowboat with Jack B at the helm), we opted for the Doolin Ferry Company. We got ourselves on board and Jessica immediately noticed the captain of the boat, a smart looking Irish lad. We made out way to the lower deck and found a seat. Tara was content with reading her Scottish Highlands ‘research” while Jessica and I spent some time on the back of the boat snapping photos and chatting with some other passengers. We made it to Innisheer in a little over 30 minutes and we were all happy to explore the island. When we got off the boat the local tour guides swarmed around the ferry boat passengers like bees to honey and we tried to fend them off. We had made a plan to walk the island since it was not very big. We did pass a red van with a very smart looking irish lad and we originally said no to his offer of a tour. As we walked along looking for a pub for a quick bite, Ana (the irish lad) pulled up along side of us and started to negotiate with us on his rate. Tara spoke to him for a moment or two and the next thing we knew we all hopped in the back of the little red van down by the ocean. Ana took us around the island and showed us the sights. There was a huge shipwreck in the 1960’s and the remnants of the boat are still on the shore. Ana explained that the boat was carrying building materials and the islanders benefited from the wreck….the boat provided the copper pipes needed for indoor plumbing!! We saw several 8 and 10th century churches, a fresh water lake, and the castle which is the highest point on the island. After the tour Ana dropped us at the one pub that was open. We spent a few moments outside chatting with a very cute horse and then made our way to the snug (the part of the pub that used to be designated for ladies) and ordered some lunch. The lunch was just what we needed and then we headed back out to explore the island on our own. Ana was still outside chatting with the other locals. We were quite sure they were all laughing at the silly American tourists while speaking Gaelic. We wandered over to the only little craft shop (gift shop) on the island and Tara made some important wool purchases. We wandered around mesmerized by how time has stood still on this island. We had to catch our ferry back to the mainland at 3:30 and we headed for the dock a little early. We chatted with a few of the other passengers while waiting for the boat to dock. Once back on the boat Tara and I planted ourselves on the top deck to enjoy the nice sunny weather and Jessica made her way to the lower deck where it was less windy. In a few minutes time, Jessica was chatting up one of the other passengers we affectionately nicknamed MIT because he had not one but two masters degrees from MIT. Jessica was polite but not picking up MIT’s attempts for a rendezvous later in one of the pubs. We made a decision to stay on the ferry for the Cliffs of Moher cruise because that had been a recommendation I had heard from Tim….he said that was his favorite part of his Ireland adventure and our ferry ride did not disappoint. The cliffs were magnificent and we all enjoyed taking pictures of them. The ferry boat captain took us very close to a little island that was home to hundreds of birds. After our return to dry land we immediately headed to our hostel in Doolin for the night. The hostel turned out to be nice and we were given a tour by Joe the Hippie. Joe probably came to Doolin along time ago and never left. He is very proud of his hostel and he runs a very tight ship. We were on the second floor and he actually upgraded our room to include bunk beds and a double. We were all tired from our adventure but we each checked our email and busied ourselves for a few hours before heading out to Gus O’Connor’s pub for our dinner and evening entertainment. Doolin is famous for music and we were hoping to catch a session, but were disappointed when the musician didn’t show. In the mean time we were entertainedby some other annoying tourists who harassed the bar keep about every item on the menu. It took him about 30 minutes to decide what he wanted to eat and he flip flopped back and forth while asking about the freshness of every item on the menu. We just about choked him and were pleasantly surprised by the amount of patience the bar keep had with him. After he had ordered and walked to his seat, we kiddingly asked the bartender is the water was locally grown and he was about to politely answer when he picked up the joke and we all had a good laugh over the silly man. After a delicious dinner, Tara made friends with a local we nicknamed Tom from Doolin. Tom comes in every night to this pub to gaze at the ladies and have some coffee. He tried to sweeten the deal with Tara by offering her a KitKat, but she declined. Tom was at least 70 and did not have a tooth in his head. We held out waiting on the music for as long as we could, but decided to head back to the hostel before 11pm. The road was very dark as we walked back and the cars drive very fast ..which as you can imagine makes it a bit difficult for walkers. We had a bunch of laughs trying to climb the hedgerows as the cars zoomed by us as I screamed “CAR”. We got ourselves back to the hostel in one piece and we all tucked in to bed for our first night in a hostel.


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