Thursday morning I got up at 6:30. I forgot what it is like to have a schedule, however now it seemed to be my job to get up every morning to take Rob for a walk to loosen him up. As I am writing this I am trying to figure out how Tracy managed to have me become my brother’s walker. Actually it was my pleasure and a lot of fun and gave us a little one on one time to talk.
As planned we were on the road by 8:00 AM. Earlier in the week Aaron had said he felt bad that Tracy and Rob would not have great views on the drive as they would be in the back seat. I told him not to worry that I would be sure to trade with them. Well, it turned out that the only person that was going to be in the front seat besides Aaron was Rob because of his back. I am beginning to wonder if this wasn’t all planned out. No lifting of luggage for him. No back seats, a lot of drugs and everyone playing fetch and what can I do for you.
Our first stop before heading west was about an hour away to see Newgrange. Newgrange is an ancient tomb historians believe was built about. 3200 BC. This means Newgrange is actually older than the pyramids. Hard to believe. I have been to some other World Heritage Sites such as Angkor Watt, The Great Wall of China, the Pyramids and I am constantly amazed how these ancient civilizations were able to build these magnificent structures with basically no tools and they have been able to survive for thousands of years.
New Grange is a round mound with an inner stone passageway. It is in the mound that they believe people were buried. It is all made of stone. The bottom of the mound consists of large stones getting smaller and smaller towards the top. The stones were just laid one on top of the other. Nothing was holding the stones together and it has stood for thousands of years. Not even leaking. Sounds like things were built better back then.
Back on the road again we were on our way to Galway where we would be spending 2 nights. We had about a four hour drive ahead of us. We were going from the east coast of Ireland to the west coast of Ireland. While Aaron was doing the driving I kept my eyes open for my favorite highway dining spot, Super Macs. It only took Aaron about two years to find a place I would eat at while we were doing highway driving. I am not a big fan of fast food places. I’m not sure who was more relieved when we found it. Me because I could finally eat or Aaron because he could stop worrying that I was going to starve.
On our way to Galway we would be driving part of the Connemara Loop. I did it once before with Aaron and thought the landscape was incredible. The Loop is only 85 KM, but there are so many places to stop that you can spend a whole day on the loop if you have the time. Unfortunately we didn’t have the time and decided to make only two stops, Kylemore Abbey and Clifton Castle. Kylemore Abbey was originally built by a wealthy business man as a gift to his wife in the 1800’s and was called Kylemore Castle. It was later donated to the Benedictine Nuns who made it their home. I think the castle is more beautiful on the outside and it overlooks a beautiful lake making the views amazing, There are also beautiful gardens to walk through and a chapel if your interested. Clifden Castle was actually a manor home that was built in the 1820’s to resemble a castle. By the 1890’s it fell into disrepair and became uninhabitable. Even though we had a real castle coming up in two days we wanted Tracy and Rob to be able to do a little exploring in the ruins. We didn’t get there until very late in the day and were the only ones there and made up some castle games to play.
I don’t know how time got away from us it was about 7:30 and we had a 90 minute drive still ahead of us to get to Galway. At least it was still light out and we could all appreciate the scenic drive, except for Aaron who had to constantly watch for sheep napping on the road. I knew there was no way we would make it to the restaurant we had reserved for dinner so after canceling, I tried to book a another place. Forget even trying to find a special place to eat, it seems every place except for McDonald's stops serving around 9:30. When we finally arrived at our hotel they told us the restaurant was closing and we had 5 minutes to order dinner or forget it. We did order. I think maybe one of us found something we would like to eat for dinner so we mainly drank our dinner. We were exhausted, but still had a great time and were looking forward to day 2. I said before I had booked our hotels for the wrong dates. The hotel we were in now was one of the only ones available. You would think for 350 euros a night you might at least get air conditioning or a bottle of water by your bed.
Somehow Rob and Tracy managed to come to Ireland the warmest and sunniest week of the summer. They were pretty dam lucky. Aaron and I live on the sea so our apartment usually gets a nice breeze and never really gets too warm. The drawback about the warm weather is that most of the cars do not have air conditioning so for four days we had to drive with all the windows open. If we wanted to talk we had to scream. I was also bummed Aaron and I bought all these great CD’s we thought we would be able to sing along to while we drove, we’ll just save them for our next trip. We had two choices sing and sweat with the windows closed or have a nice breeze and sit on silence and or scream. We opted for windows open.
We left early the next day to go to the Cliffs of Moher. Another 2 hour drive ahead of us. Although the Irish countryside is beautiful, it seems everything is a two hour drive. We planned to do a little hiking along the coast, which is also called the Wild Atlantic Way. From the Cliffs of Moher you can see Galway Bay and the Aran Islands. The highlight of the day was the boat ride we took so we could actually see the Cliffs from the sea. They were spectacular, they have been formed over thousands of years by the weather and the ocean. We were told the Cliffs were 702 feet high, that is a little more than half the size of the empire state building.
After our boat ride another drive to Burren National Park for some more hiking. Thank God for my brother and his bad back. I wasn’t sure how much more hiking I could do. Of course we had our 2 hour drive back to Galway another reason for the short hike, We were in a rush to get back to Galway City so Rob and Tracy would get a chance to walk around, see the city and we would all get to eat at the restaurant we had made reservations at.
Galway is supposedly one of the most popular cities in Ireland. It is located on the Atlantic Ocean and the river Corrib. It is one of the most picturesque cities in Ireland. The city itself is filled with pubs playing Irish folk music, galleries and good food which we were lucky enough to have that night since the night before was such a burnout. I thought maybe we rushed back to the city too soon and had too much time on our hands as Tracy found a souvenir shop and spent I would say probably an hour looking at what I call stupid shit. I do admit that somehow she managed to come out with a bag full of stuff, what I am not sure. After cruising around town we began to appreciate what everyone had been telling us about Galway. Before dinner we were able to find a pub with an empty table in front. We grabbed the table and had some pints, except for Tracy who was still on her whiskey sours.
Tonight we were eating at a restaurant called Brasserie on the Corner. We had made the reservation probably six weeks earlier after doing a little research on line. It was actually pretty darn good, I know it’s not nice to say, but for Ireland very good. I am not that fond of the food here. Aaron would say I am a food snob, not true, it's just not that good.
The minute the host seated us I asked him to bring 2 orders of chips and a drinks menu. I was starved. I found myself speechless when they also brought over a bread basket, which they served for free. The one thing I found most amazing was the bread basket which they served was free. This is the only time this had happened to me the whole time I have been in Ireland. I cannot remember everything we ordered but I had some oysters that were great and Tracy said she had some of the best mussels ever. We seemed to be waiting quite a bit for our dinner when the waitress appeared and asked if we would like to see the desert menu. Somewhere along the line I think they forgot our main courses, which we eventually did get. By this time we were all exhausted a little tipsy and just thinking about getting to bed for another big day coming up.
The following morning we slept in a bit and began our drive to Bunratty Castle in County Clare. Another 2 hour drive. I am beginning to realize that we should have taken at least a week to do everything we were trying to do in 3 ½ days. I cannot remember the last time I have spent this much time in a car. I am really feeling sorry for Aaron having no one to share the driving with.
Bunratty Castle is really not a castle but a fortress I learned. It was built about 600 years ago and used more like a fortress to protect the chieftains and were mainly used for defence. When you go through the fortress all your ideas of what castles are fall by the wayside, skinny hallways, spiral staircases, and very little light. When you are through viewing the castle there is a village you can walk through which will show you the different ways people lived in Ireland through the ages.
Our last stop for the day was Killarney National Park. Another 2 hour drive. I am almost as tired of writing two hour drive as I was taking them. You could easily spend two or three days there. We had only about three hours but it was enough to drive and take some short hikes. The park is composed of lakes, mountains, rivers, waterfall and plenty of green. It was a treat for Tracy and Rob who live in the desert to be surrounded by so much green and water.
Tonight was going to be our last night away. We would be spending it in Killarney. We managed to find a nice bed and breakfast to stay in which was located in the center of town. Unlike our other hotel this bed and breakfast had air conditioning, great baths, was quiet and pretty inexpensive. It was called Foley’s Townhouse. We arrived there about six. Tracy wasn’t feeling that great so the 3 men went out to the pubs, drinking pints and having fun until dinner. Dinner wasn’t much to talk about since the restaurant was so hot you could not enjoy your food. Killarney is a pretty neat little village. Not much to do there so you better like to drink. There is a pub everywhere you look and they are pretty filled up with regulars and tourists.
The next day we slept in and prepared for our final drive back to Dublin. I think we were all excited at the thought of getting home and just relaxing. On the way home of course we had our lunch at my favorite highway stop SuperMacs. We arrived home and for some reason I was put in charge of cocktails. Another big pitcher of Moscow Mules, actually a pitcher and a half., I don’t know if anyone was put in charge of dinner because I cannot remember eating anything except maybe some cashews.
Rob and Tracy had one more day on Dublin before leaving for London. Tracy had us running from noon until late that evening. As much as I loved having them with us in Ireland it was an exhausting 8 days. Aaron and I are thanking our lucky stars that we have a beach vacation coming up in three weeks. We can't wait!
Hope you guys having been enjoying the blogs. With summer nearly at an end what vacations have you been on this summer? Let us know in the forum below.