I apologize now for the length of this entry. But pictures! You said you loved them! :)
So our last day was a train ride across Ireland. We left Dublin early: like meet at the station at 6:15 early. This is when I discovered the fact that there are places in the world that make you PAY TO PEE. (I now, when referring to having to go to the ladies room say - "Gotta go pay thirty cents.")
I found this small fact so crazy, Sam took a picture.
After *that* amazing morning excitement, we met Tracy, Peter and John at the train. We climbed aboard and headed to Limerick, where we then got on a bus to take us to Bunratty Castle. It's one of the few castles built as a home, someplace people actually lived, and it was sort of awe striking how big it was . . .
It's right off the river Shannon, which was cool to see.
We got a tour of the castle, where I got to see an actual Sheela na Gig. She's a carving of a pagan goddess, referred to as the "sacred whore" or "divine" hag. They used to be found throughout Ireland, but the church destroyed most. Now there are only a few left, and it was cool to get to see one in person. She's a fertility symbol, as well is supposed to ward off evil. I touched her for the latter.
After our tour of the castle we wandered the grounds; a folk park with all kinds of small houses and such different people who worked for the castle would have lived in.
And, well, Sam pretended to draw his sword . . that pic's just for you, Ben.
We saw some cool stuff, not the least of which were these brilliant flowers.
I love this photo simply because right there? It looks like Sam is at Sean Thorton’s house in the Quiet Man. I know, I’m ridiculous.
After the castle we headed to Doolin and O'Connor's Pub - to eat, what is easily, The Best fish and chips ever.
Doolin is also where Sam bought me THE most beautiful Irish-knit sweater ever. I'm wearing it in the pictures I'll show you of the END of our night, since the weather this day was, yet again, perfect for us and I didn't need it. From Doolin we went to the Cliffs of Moher.
And, they were amazing. I'm not going to even try to find the words. And the photos don't even do it justice.
We took a BUNCH of photos, and next time I see you in person, I'll show you them all. It was really quite an amazing place. And dangerous too, by the signs. Which we did not take serious enough, obviously.
And just when we didn’t' think the landscape could get any more awesome, we headed to the Burren. In all the tourist stuff I read, it said the Burren had a "lunar-like landscape." And sire, on the way there we noticed it got quite a bit rockier . . but it wasn't til we got there that we understood.
The guide said, "It's as if the very ocean floor has been forced up." And, well, it was. It was crazy and beautiful and just, well, *wild.*
It ended up being one of our favorite stops.
From the Burren, we drove along the coast to Galway, City of the Tribes. It felt like everywhere we had gone that day I could have spent weeks at - and the city of Galway was definitely not excluded. We only had an hour so we walked through the main square and down a small pedestrian marketplace. Sam bought me a beautiful claddagh ring (they originated there) and our friend John got a hurling ball and stick.
We then stopped in a small pub for a pint. Of course.
We then, sadly, got back on the train and headed home to Dublin. You'd think our day (already 16 hours) would have wound down. But no! We were leaving the next day! There was more fun to be had!
Mainly the kind of fun that involves more drinking and supporting our favorite Irish celebrity, Bono. We headed straight from the train station to the Clarence Hotel, owned by U2. (Who alas were on tour and NOT there, but I wore my cute new Irish sweater *just in case.*)
We had high hopes for the Clarence and it did not disappoint. John and Sam continued with their love our all things Irish-Guinness and I had THE BEST tom collins ever. Ever people. And it's a sad admittance I've had A LOT of tom collinses. This? Hands down the yummiest.
We stayed 'til the night got too fuzzy and then walked our way to a SuperMac's to officially end our night. Nothing like the yumminess of Irish fast food to get you ready for a good night's sleep.
And then, before we knew it, we were on our way home.
I don't believe either of us were quite ready to be gone yet. But it was a wonderful trip. And on the way home, we began to plan our next one . . .
6 years ago