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Apr 30, 2014

Ireland Coastline Drive

I really had no idea how to show you this next set of photos other than to just lump them all together and dub them the "Coastline Drive" series. On both Day 2 and Day 3 of our Ireland trip, we spent large chunks of our tours driving and visiting spots along the Western coast and Northern coast of Ireland. Even with a large coach bus, we were able to squeeze onto the narrow seaside roadways to experience breathtaking views as we drove from village to village. As we passed through each sleepy fishing town or idyllic resort area, our tour guide introduced us to Ireland's fancy golf courses, numerous historic landmarks, traditional seaside architecture, varieties of flora & fauna (including hundreds of sheep, naturally), and most importantly, Liam Neeson's hometown of Ballymena (flippin' awesome). We were also able to keep our eyes on the Southernmost tip of Scotland during the Northern coast portion of our drive. You can just barely see it in one of my photos below…but I swear, it's there (and is as close as I've ever been to Scotland, sad face). 

Along our bi-costal drives, we stopped at a few vantage points for photo-ops and necessities such as lunch and bathroom breaks. The first set of photos is from our stop on Day 1 just around the Galaway Bay area (before we arrived at the Cliffs of Moher). During this stop, we got the best of both types of Irish weather--clouds and gray skies sulking low to our left, blue skies and bright sunshine beaming off to our right…a totally mind-blowing contrast. This dark vs. light battle in the sky turned the sea into an unexpected shade of turquoise that had me glued to my camera. In fact, D and I were the last ones to return back to the bus because I was so enamored with the sea. I have a feeling these colors might end up as wall paint in our future home…I'm still dying over them! Even though many of these photos are from the comfort of a coach seat (and may have a few window smudges in them), we saw SO MUCH of Ireland with these tours. If you've got a short amount of time and lots you want to see, there's definitely something to be said for a good day-tour with a knowledgable guide. The cheery Irish folk music we listened to the whole trip certainly didn't hurt any either. More from Ireland to come! ;)

Northern Coastline
[Antrim Coastal Road]

Apr 28, 2014

Ireland: Cliffs of Moher

I'm skipping around a bit, but I've been teasing you guys with snippets of our Cliffs of Moher photos and thought it was high time I share the best part of our Ireland adventure in its entirety! After 3 hours of driving from Dublin across Ireland's vast, green countryside, stopping in a few sleepy fishing villages, visiting Corcomroe Abbey, and motoring along the Southwest coastline, we finally made it to the Cliffs of Moher. Normally I'd HATE having to ride on a bus for that long, but we got to see so much of Ireland along the way, I hardly noticed those 3 hours pass by. Once we arrived at the main attraction of the day, some of our tour group got dropped off at a cliff-side walking path that leads to the area of the cliffs we explored. That walk took 30 minutes to complete and got you SUPER close to the edge of the cliffs, so we opted to spare our lives and spend our full 2 hours along the cliff's most popular (and safer) areas. This was no time to flex our adventurous muscles. Truth is, we have none…or at least I don't (hello, slightly scared of heights and falling to my death.)

You know that feeling you get when you first lay eyes on a landscape that you've only ever seen in postcards and history books, but are finally getting to see in person? Goosebumps and giddy joy and complete awe-stricken wonder? THAT. The second we peered over the cliffs for the first time, those feelings flooded us both. Hearing the sound of the turquoise waves crash against the rocks below while gazing at the sun dancing off the grassy cliffs was almost more than this traveler's heart could take. I kept asking D if he could believe we were standing there. He couldn't…neither could I. The views were phenomenal...mesmerizing, even. I couldn't stop snapping photos of the view to O'Brien's tower, the highest point of the cliffs. You can just barely make out the little dots of tourists scattered along its stone walls. While my photos turned out great (a little toot, toot!), they don't compare to seeing this place in person. Not even close! And can I just tell you happy I was to be wearing my wellies? Mud everywhere. Even though we had mostly blue skies and sunshine during our visit, we encountered two brief sun-hail storms (weird) and lots of puddles from previous rain showers. Even with the wet ground, we still plopped on the grass and hung our feet over the cliffs, feeling slightly on top of the world. D was also nerding out over the rock where Harry Potter and Dumbledore appear when they're on the quest to find a Horcrux Voldemort left in a cave at the cliffs. I just kept quoting The Princess Bride and requesting D not jump over the Cliffs of Insanity. We had a lot of fun that afternoon. ;) Dublin is great and the pubs are fun, but if you plan a trip to Ireland, make good and sure the Irish Coast and the Cliffs of Moher are on your itinerary. They're absolutely not to be missed!

Admission: €6 per person (children under 16 FREE!)
Opening hours: 9:00am-6:30pm in the spring…later in the summer.
Gift shop, restaurant, and cliffs exhibit also on site.

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