I flew to Dublin again last Friday. I got up at 3 am and nearly cried when I heard the torrential rain outside. The rain stopped however and an hour later I marched in darkness through the almost empty city. I sacrificed sleep to fly reasonably early in order to have at least four hours in Dublin. This time I felt like a proper solo tourist on a budget: I took the bus to the city centre, not knowing exactly where to get off; I went to the tourist information cenre for a free map (one of rather few things one can get for free in Dublin); I had a cheap and cheerful coffee at McDonalds; I sat by the river, smoked a mini cigar and watched the world go by, then headed to Temple Bar before it got overcrowded with thirsty hordes…
I continued to St Stephen’s Green and wanted to visit the churches but decided to save them for another (more rainy) day. Soon it it was 2:30 pm and I had to use the Luas Red Line to meet my travel buddy. I’m told Red Line (Tallaght direction) is quite infamous and I was advised (afterwards…) to sit near the driver and NOT look anyone in the eye. I made it to my destination unharmed. I still felt like tempting the fate though and when a traveller on a horse cart suddenly turned up on busy a road I snapped a pic of him with my iPhone. Not a wise thing to do. He was shouting at his horse, the horse was clearly in distress. I walked past them quickly with my head hung low. Again, no harm came to me. Must have been my lucky day.
The reason we went to County Clare was to witness the Lisdoonvarna ‘Matchmaking’ Festival, an event suggested by another friend of ours who unexpectedly bailed out. Maybe she had seen some videos of it on You Tube…It was bad beyond words, a weird cowboy disco for horny pensioners. I can’t unsee what I saw 😉
Friday night was very wet and windy and Saturday brought even more rainy weather. We had to escape the horrors of the previous night and went to a lovely West Coast village called Doolin. For such a tiny place it had an abundance of shops and bars and I ended up buying a warm woolen sweater and a hat, both of which I started wearing straight away. The lady who served me in the shop was from Hoole 🙂
We then decided to go to The Rock Shop, a nice place but too much of a gift shop and not enough semi-precious stones and actual rocks for my liking…Our next stop was Aillwee Cave and Birds of Prey Centre. I watched the show standing in the rain but enjoyed it even though it made me sad and angry because of what I learned about extinction of so many bird species, including vultures. They are vulnerable to an arthrisis drug given to cattle. In certain countries dead cows are abandoned to rot and are eaten by vultures which then die from kidney failure caused by the drug. We were shown a friendly vulture called Dyson who stole my heart completely, three hawks and a falcon. There was also an exhibition explaining how the centre helps to protect and re-introduce such species of birds in Ireland. The cave visit on the other hand was very, very funny thanks to our guide, Justin. I don’t remember much about the cave but I do remember his non – PC jokes 😉 If you ever decide to see the cave, ask for Justin. No one else.
We noticed large signs for ‘Monks at the Pier’ seafood restaurant in Ballyvaughan and we decided to check it out. What a find! Their seafood chowder was delicious, almost as good as the one I normally have in Wicklow. Good selection of wines too. For coffee we wanted to go somewhere else so we drove back to Doolin and tried our luck in Gus o’Connor’s first, only to find it full of very loud blokes. Shame, because it’s the best local pub apparently. We ended up in Fitzpatrick’s Bar and had several Bailey’s coffees in civilized surroundings and to make it even better there was live music – a two man band kindly played Galway Girl for us 🙂 Doolin is like a traditional music mecca in Ireland. I’m very keen to go back there for more strong coffee and folk tunes 🙂
I had to fly back to Liverpool on Sunday evening which meant a 3 hour drive followed by a 2 hour coach journey, a 1 hour plane journey, a bus and a train back to Chester – 8 hours in total… but we managed to quickly pop in to Burren Smokehouse and stop for yet another Irish cofee in Ennis where I treated myself to a really nice 35 L Tresspass backpack. Women typically salivate over handbags and shoes, I guess I was just born different 😉
I soooo love micro-adventures! I happily embrace the fact that it yes, it does take long to get to and from places but once I’m there I can forget about the whole shitty week, I can even forget that I got asked to dance by a 99 year old fella. Bring on the next adventure – how about Isle of Man ? 🙂
PS. I recommend this B&B near Lisdoonvarna: it is run by a lovely Belgian couple who chose Ireland to be their home. Great base for visiting the Burren and superb breakfast including home made jams and bread and even yoghurt!