Monday, June 27, 2016

Ireland - Day 5 (Galway)

Today, we visit Cliffs of Moher and drive a bit of the coastal road. We will be moving from The Huntsman Inn in Galway to Almara House in Galway since I couldn't extend our stay, but due to the noisy evening last night, I think it might be for the best anyways.

Salmon benedict on top, scone on the bottom.
This morning, I got the smoked salmon benedict and Allison got the scone. The breakfast was just as good as yesterday, I will miss these breakfasts, although it is probably too much breakfast to have daily.

Dunguaire Castle.
After we left, our first stop is Dunguaire Castle which we arrived at by 9:45am. It doesn't open until 10:00am, but after wandering around the exterior, I think it is sufficient since you do need to pay to visit the interior. Do make a stop here, the views are very nice, make sure to do a loop around the castle and check out the little town to the left of the castle.

Random church. 
Poulnabrone dolmen tomb is next. We got here at around 11:00am. Was here for maybe 10 minutes, there is clear signage and free parking here. It was interesting to see, there are several postings in the area that talk about the history of the site if you are interested in learning.

Poulnabrone dolmen tomb.
Signage in Ireland.
Kilfornera was the next stop which is a small town and we made it there by 11:45am. It has some nice views so make sure to stop here.

Doolin was our stop for lunch and we got there by 12:30pm. While visiting tourist information, we ended up deciding to do the Aran Island tour which allows for a short stay at the smallest island (Inish Oirr) and a one hour tour of the Cliffs of Moher by boat. Starts at 1:00pm and expected return is 5:15pm. With this change, we decided that we will do the Cliffs of Moher tomorrow.

Aran Island (look at those rock walls).
This change meant that we didn't have time for a proper lunch and we just headed quickly to the pier and bought some sandwiches at a shop at the pier. Food was €3 per sandwich and it was just a ham, cheese, and tomato with regular toast bread. If I had known about this, I would have tried to plan this part out a little bit better.

Allison with our new companion. 
Allison with our new companion.
We arrived at Inis Oirr at 1:45pm since we had a later departure, I assume this makes no difference for the departure time of this island which is unfortunate since it isn't our fault they were late. Upon landing, we were mobbed by people trying to give us a tour of their island, I guess this is their main source of income here. You have the option of a horse carriage tour, you can rent bikes to ride around, or just walk around on your own. We had 2.5 hours to wander and since the island is small, I thought we would be okay with just walking around.

Me atop some ruins. 
With a map in hand, I thought it would be cool to see the seal nesting spot which is to the right of where you land. We didn't see anything! Disappointing! So we wandered along the map to see as many sites as we would with the time that we had left. We headed left, back to the ruins, along the way, we saw ruins of a church and then we went to the castle ruins. On the way to the ruins, we had a local dog that started following us which we nicknamed Snoozles based on a hostel we saw earlier in our trip.

Aboard the ferry.
The castle ruins are really cool, just see the first one as you can walk around it fully and you can actually climb up it (although, at your own risk). No cost to visit, lots of people while we were there. As we left the castle ruins, so did Snoozles, this dog was following us for a good hour by this point, just wandering around the island.

We tried to head to the shipwreck but by the time we saw where we were, we knew we didn't have enough time and turned around and headed back to the docks to catch our ferry. My suggestion if you do this tour, start with the shipwreck, come back and see the castle ruins and you should be good for time. You should be able to do it by foot, if you are concerned, there are bike rentals to speed things up a bit but they were expensive in my mind at €10 per person.

Yes, those are all birds.
By now, we have noticed that the weather changes quickly and often. It was sunny during the morning, light showers while waiting for the cruise and during it. Overcast on Aran Island, and sunny on the way back to Doolin. So, do plan for rain and hope that it is nice out. We have also noticed that overcast doesn't mean that you are safe from UV radiation, we both got tanned even on overcast days. So cover up!

Yes, those are all birds.
On the way back from Aran Island, we got a short tour of Cliffs of Moher, it was neat to see it from the water since we will see it on shore in person tomorrow. In the area, there are a lot of birds and puffins nesting and mating when we went and it was really neat to see so many birds flocking around a rock and a small island there.

How can there be so many birds?!
After we landed, we drove a little bit back to Doolin and went to McGann's for dinner which was well reviewed on TripAdvisor. We ordered the fish and chips and the lamb shank and both were really nice with really big portions. You have to order your food at the front and tell them what your table number is which was strange to me since I have never experienced this before but apparently it is normal at pubs. You are likely to share tables with others and that's probably why. There was live music while we were here and it added to the experience. I do like this pub atmosphere that they have going on here, feels very intimate. Ended up costing us under €30 for both. There was a rugby match happening as well while we were here and these Irish folks really like their sports teams!

Yup, a wild jellyfish.
We made it back to our new B&B by 7:45pm at Almara House. We stayed in room 4 here which was the top floor and it was hot and stuffy here. We noticed that none of our places have AC and they just have fans and windows here.
When did I hit a mountain pass?
Fish and Chips on the left, Lamb Shank on the right.
Tomorrow, we visit the Cliffs of Moher and Bunratty Castle and Folk Park.