Saturday, April 04, 2015

Bus Trip to Galway (Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Not Break the CD Into a Thousand Pieces)

I just want to sleep.

That's my sentiment pretty much every day at 6am, but especially when I'm in another country on vacation. I do not want to be awake.

Today's adventure is a day trip to the Cliffs of Moher, which are big and nature-ish and cliff-like and on the other side of the island. So we boarded a bus at 6:50 in the morning, bound for Galway.

I'm not great at sleeping in transit, but was tired enough that while I couldn't sleep, my attempts to stay awake by reading were pretty much useless. Not in that I actually fell asleep for any appreciable length of time, but more in that I'll have to re-read a bunch of things because it was all an incoherent jumble.

We stopped briefly in Athlone for some coffee, and then it was on to Galway by about 10am for a short tour of the city by a tour guide who, though very good at her job, was also at least an order of magnitude more awake than everyone she was dealing with.

Happily, Galway is relatively small and walkable, so running around the streets was pretty doable, even for a big large touristy group that is clearly a big large group of tourists. We were brought to a market street (appropriately, on Market Street) and were given the option of splitting off to either buy things in the market or walk around St. Nicholas' Church, which is big and very old and very made of stone. I wound up in the church (which had a huge number of memorial plaques and was getting ready for Easter services), while Marina and Alice headed off to the market. So good times for all.

After corralling the group, we boarded the bus again (minus two people, evidently) for the trip up the coast to the Cliffs of Moher with a few brief stops along the way to get out, walk to smaller cliff-like structures and take in the natural beauty of the place, mostly in the form of people taking pictures of it. Not that I was immune to that.

I assume this is from the future cover of an album of terrible smooth jazz I will make at some point.
We got a brief stop in a pub who clearly deals mostly with big obnoxious tour buses and continued to the Cliffs up roads that I'm really, really glad I wasn't driving on.

We were told, when we arrived, that we'd have two hours, and couldn't understand what we'd need all that time for.

As it turns out, we'd need that time for running around and looking at things. Which was incredible. I know that most of this has been repeated insistences that I don't have the ability to describe any of the scenery in anything close to a grand enough manner, and this isn't any different.

Look at this. This is nonsense.

One thing that this side-trip did teach us is that Skye was effectively deserted when we were there. It was awesome. Sure, there were some folks that we thought might break into our car and some awkward co-tenants at the B&B, but overall, there were just very few people. The Cliffs, on the other hand, have something like a dozen or so busloads of people, so while it's beautiful, there are just a ton of people running around doing things. Which is fine, but makes actually using the pathways a little slow and inconvenient.

Also, I've learned that my fear of heights seems to be based on whether the heights are man-made? I guess? I usually don't like heights at all, but as a city-dweller in a very flat part of the country, I'm more likely to encounter heights in the context of a building. For some reason, I was much more comfortable near the cliff edge. I have no idea why that should be the case.

We blew through our two hours and were back on the bus to Galway, and then to Dublin. At this point, the lack of sleep caught up with me and my attempts to stay awake to Dublin by listening to an audiobook were foiled; I drifted in and out and was absolutely baffled by the time we got to Galway. The trip back to Dublin was three hours, but it was three hours with the same four songs on what I assume is just a collection of traditional music that we'd had all day. We got off on the north bank of the Liffey and I swore that if I ever heard another about ripples in the rockpools I would set fire to something.

We crossed over into Temple Bar, which was orders of magnitude more lively. Street bands, pubs full of people, and general chaos. First things first, we went and bought the bottle of Talisker, then found a Mongolian BBQ restaurant (which helped my mood immensely, as I was still in a foul state after the bus ride),  We stopped by one of the less-crazily-populated pubs as it felt like we were more or less required to, then hailed a cab and headed for the hotel.

And that's it. That's pretty much our trip. Alice will continue on to other destinations, but we're headed home. Both Ireland and Scotland were great, but I'm also really looking forward to vehicles being on the side of the road I'm accustomed to.

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