24 June 2006

Ireland

Dublin is just a very dirty city, and when we were in a cafe our first night two drunkards wandered in and started fighting with the store manager and before you knew it they came to fisticuffs and there was yelling and punching and screaming and Allison and I were just frozen in our chairs! Basically there are a lot of drunken people here, and we know it's because the city is just covered in garbage (our faces are like that becuase we're trying not to think about the smell). And since we're not here primarily to drink, we seem to have a shortage of things to do. But the weather is nice! Yes no more crazy windy rain storms.

Recently, Ireland has gotten in trouble for not doing more to curb the smoking epedimic. Here is the new campaign they've launched as a response. I like it! On the other side of some of the cigarette packs they have pictures of people with diseased faces or lungs as a result of cancer from smoking. Oh and Cigareettes are REALLY expensive. Good work Ireland!

I'm glad to report that once we got out of Dublin we have found Ireland to be a very pleasant place indeed. Right now we're in Galway, where we just saw our second impromptu air show, and a parade with a marching band! (Geek, I know!) We took a short train ride here to discover that all of the hostels were pretty much full. We ended up finding a place in what appeared to be a Polish Mafia hostel. Okay, it wasn't that bad, but we didn't want to use the showers there, let’s put it that way. Originally we were in a big dorm room, but got moved into a smaller room that appeared to have a young couple living in it. They were unhappy by our presence to say the least, so we made ourselves scarce.

We wandered town, which only took a few hours, before catching a choir concert by the Moss Chamber Choir from Norway. It was amazing, and we were lucky to have heard abut it. We also found this beautiful church on the back end of town.

After an unsatisfying dinner (i.e. $10.00 food that tasted like it had been cooked in a microwave) we walked out on the beautiful pier. Later we went running out there and caught the beautiful sunset (here's the pic from that epic night)!

In the morning, we got up early and booked it out of the Mafia hostel booked a different, rather pleasant one around the block. We headed out on a tour to the Cliffs of Mohr, and opted to do a walking tour of the hills beforehand.


A little geological history: Ireland started as a shallow ocean bed, and when the sea creatures died their bones formed into Limestone which now cover the hillsides today, known as the "Barren", the Irish word for "a rocky place". As you can see, the hills look like there COVERED in limestone down to the last inch, but once you get up into the foothills you realize there are big grassy patches. During the great Potato Famine, these grassy patches helped to feed the cows in the region, which in turn kept many people alive. During this time, the Irish government also paid thousands of laborers to make walls out of this limestone, just to give them something to do. So some of the hills now look like checkerboards, with big green pastures criss-crossed by limestone rock walls. Anyway, the hike was amazing and definitely helped me to appreciate this place that much more.

The Cliffs of Mohr are quite famous, but now WAY over populated with tourists. They've put up fences and walkways and a stupid gift shop, so the beauty you go there to admire is colluded by the modernization and the air is filled with smokers. You really lose a lot of the natural beauty and experience of it. Granted, people have gotten too close to the edge and fallen to so maybe you NEED a fence, but why let those people ruin it for the rest of us?


Next we headed to Dingle, where GrandBob treated us to a lovely stay in a B&B. Here we did our 1st sink laundry, which would become a real stable in our travels. We stayed two nights, and on our first full day we rented bicycles and rode around the Dingle peninsula.
This is similar to the Ring of Kerry, which is much more famous, but we could ride it in about 5 hours instead of having to take another bus ride (where I would surely fall asleep and miss the beauty). Boy were our butts sore! Oh and Allison got a SERIOUS sunburn, which was funny because it was CLOUDY all day. Oh well.

From Dingle we lacked didn't have a plan but decided to head to Kilarney. Unforunately most of our pictures from Kilarney (including the one of our MASSIVE free ice cream Sundae) were lost with Allison's camera, but we have some fond memories nonetheless. Mostly we wandered town for a few days and visited the many beautiful churches and castles surrounding the city. At night, we went to the same bar two nights in a row where we met a lovely Irish tour guide and his group of American Tourists. No one from Seattle, but we did meet some very nice Bostonians...Man those accents are cool!

From Kilarney we headed into the County Cork. Here the Irish Accent is at its best. You can hardly understand anyone, but that's the fun of it! We stayed in a nice hostel with a lovely staircase, and of course we were on the 4th floor! Cork was a lot like Dublin, in the big-city, dirty sense, but it was a little more relaxed and had a nice market that we frequented often. They also have an, err, interesting sense of fashion there:

From Cork, we did a day trip to Blarney Castle and yes, we kissed the Blarney Stone. They have a man seated up there to help you lean back over and really lay one on that stone. The castle itself is very beautiful (but dilapidated) and is situated on a very lovely grounds. I was continually surprised by how GREEN everythign was there. And of course you all know how much I love that color! While we were wandering the grounds, we ran into some French boys from our hostel, and of course Allison was very happy to get to practice her French! Of course, they were equally excited to use English...se la vie.

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