Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Aran Islands

Monday, September 21, 2009

I’m so glad there is a heater in the bathroom. It is so nice to step out into a warm room, which would otherwise be very chilly. The cold has returned heralded by the wind. Today was somewhat dismal. It did not start out that way.

I woke up at 8:20 to prepare for the trip to Inishmor. The bus to the ferry port left at 9:30. Monica met us at the bus stop. It was about 45 min to the tip of Connemara where we caught a 40 min ferry across. This ferry did not carry cars, only passengers, so some would like it best if I called it a boat, but I think ferries can be passenger only. They are still ferrying something over to the island. However, I will call it a boat. Going over we traveled into the wind. Today was a poor weather day - extremely windy and gray. A little drizzle here and there, but never much. The boat was running against 5 foot swells, which gave the up and down motions of a roller coaster. A 40 minute roller coaster. A good number of people got up to get sick. I was thoroughly enjoying it much to the envy of others. I have wanted that roller coaster feeling of the tummy tickle for quite some time now. I got plenty of it today. I was giddy with laughter to be honest. Monica looked at me with disbelief, so I toned it down a notch or two. Honestly, when the swells died down and the boat came to a redundant rocking, I was not enjoying that.

When we got off the boat we were immediately struck by the winds of Inishmor. These were some powerful winds and the sky looked ominous. We needed to make a decision-10 Euro bikes or 15 Euro horse and buggy. Given the fact that I’m not sure I’ll ever find a horse and buggy that cheap again we went with the latter. Also, I don’t think I could ride a bike against that wind. Ronnie was the horse’s name and I’m not sure of the old man driving him on. The four of us (Zach, Monica, Man, and myself) sat in an open kart hitched up to Ronnie. We had blankets if we wanted them and a tour guide to answer any of our questions as best he could. The island is 9 miles long and 2 miles wide, so Ronnie didn’t have to pull us too far. We were told he liked to work, but I still wanted to get out and walk a bit on some of the hills to make it easier for him, but I was not given the option.

We were dropped off at the entrance to an ancient Celtic fort where we were able to eat some vegetable soup and brown bread before our hike. The sandwich bread in Ireland is amazing. Our bread is like cardboard compared to what comes with meals here. The forts were built on the cliff’s edge for another near death experience if you like. No barriers prevent the tourist from going over, only common sense. In the States, this would result in an immediate lawsuit, but not here. If you’re dumb enough to risk your life, that’s your problem not theirs. You’d be too dead to sue anyway, and relatives would likely be too ashamed to claim responsibility for one wanting to sit on the edge of cliffs hundreds of feet high.

Our carriage was waiting on us when we returned from the hike. This time we took the low road by the ocean. There were even beaches down here, but often too cold for anything but a stroll. There were supposed to be seals too, but we didn’t see any. There were a lot of rock walls and rocks in general. Ireland could make a fortune on exporting limestone, but that would take the beauty of it all away.

When Ronnie dropped us back in the little town we set out to find Katelyn and Hilary. The town consisted of three restaurant/bars, one café, one convenience store, a few boutiques, some Band B hostels, three bike rental places, and a Supermacs (Irish version of fast food)…so not much. I don’t know how those girls do it. I could not spend three months on that island if someone paid me. I’d go crazy with nothing to do after about a month. We found them fairly easily and Kathleen and Erynn were there also…surprise. They had arrived on Saturday and decided to stay till they felt like going back. I suppose enjoying the company on the island would help in staying around, but I wasn’t enjoying the company, and I’d almost forgotten how much I did not enjoy the company previously. Some people are just not the right ones to spend extended amounts of time with. Given the weather, the four girls were just lounging around in their room, so the three of us said goodbye and continued to walk around the island picking blackberries as a snack. We were told to find the ones away from the road. They would be just grand to eat. We headed back so as not to miss the ferry – thinking we could catch an earlier one out, but missed it anyway. We popped into the “American Bar” for dinner while waiting on the next ferry …boat. I enjoyed a nice sit away from the wind, as well as a chicken burger and chips (fries). Crisps are chips over here.

The boat ride back was much more serene. The water was still just as choppy, but we were not going against the wind. By traveling with the wind we actually arrived sooner than expected and the bus was not there. Waiting outside in the wind was not an idea I was keen on, but had no other choice. By now, my cheeks were very wind burned and I was extremely tired given the culmination of the weekend’s events, additional walking today and the weather.

The bus was a double decker. The group of Danish teenagers on a school trip took over the top, so we were resigned to the bottom this time. Our conversation the entire way back consisted of naming films and actors and actresses we thought were good since Monica seems to be the queen of American cinema. Starting out with who was the most attractive: top 3. Attractiveness in this case would not be based on lust, but an over appeal based on an added aesthetic quality and a genuine appreciation of beauty. A lot of exceptions arose and the list continued.

Back in Galway, we said goodbye to Monica. I stopped in a convenience store (only thing open at 7 on a Monday) to pick up some milk for hot chocolate and cereal in the morning. I’m retiring early tonight. The wind is still beating at the windows, so I think tonight will be a good one to fall asleep with my book.

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