Dublin – Round Two!

Sorry to report another hiatus… But we ARE excited to report that we are writing to you from Vernazza right now!

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Breathtaking!

We will get back to blogging about Ireland and Scotland but we thought we would keep our readers, friends and families up to date with our current adventures! So here goes:

We flew into Dublin, after an exhausting day of planes and airports.

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We had a layover in Calgary – where passengers bound for Cowtown disembarked the plane, but apparently we lost a passenger who was supposed to continue on with us to Toronto. We never found out what happened to this person… but eventually after hand checking the passenger manifest several times, we loaded up some new passengers and headed off to Toronto. At Toronto, we had a 4hr layover, so we managed to grab some dinner. The first airport restaurant we came upon was called Fionn MacCool’s!

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Tired and hungry!

We took it as a sign that we were meant to be eating there!
It was airport restaurant food, so it wasn’t authentic Irish food or anything… but after two flights without any meal or snacks, we were ready for a meal.

After our dinner, we ventured to our gate to wait for our flight. I’d been trying really hard not to fall asleep the whole day, so I could adjust to Europe time. But it was getting really difficult now… (having been swamped with numerous rehearsals and wedding events and 3 ballet performances the week before we left, I was up until really late packing.) We were eagerly waiting to get on the plane, fall asleep and wake up perfectly adjusted to the local time in Ireland. And so we waited and waited… and eventually our boarding time passed without a plane being at the gate…

Finally about an hour late, we started boarding – an apparently new Airbus. It still had a bit of a new plane smell! We were seated at the very back of the plane, which we didn’t particularly mind. Except when the meals were being handed out! Both times, they had run out of a lot of food options by the time they got to us ūüėě But we settled happily for a grilled vegetable sandwich!

Finally after a full day of travelling, we landed in Dublin. It is nice revisiting a city that you have been to before. You already know how to get around and you already have your bearings. So we grabbed our luggage, walked straight to the Airlink stand and off to the city centre we went!

Once we got off at our stop, we easily found our way to the Barnacles hostel.

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We enjoyed our stay the last time we were in Dublin, so we decided to stay here again. Plus it was right in the city centre – a couple doors down from the Temple Bar and we could easily walk to wherever we needed to go.

Once we checked in and dropped off our things in our room, we headed out to wander Dublin. Since we had done most of the ‘tourist-y’ things last time around, we didn’t have many plans for our stay this time. Especially since we were only staying for a day and a bit… But we did have our list of things to check out and do: Grafton Street for the Disney store (of course), Murphy’s Ice Cream (which we first had in Dingle), drink Guinness (which tastes completely different in Ireland than at home) and listen to some trad music!

We checked off most of these things! (Food post to come next – because it deserves its own post!) We also leisurely wandered around to our old Dublin haunts…

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Ha’penny Bridge

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Iconic…

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Dublin Castle

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The iconic alley from “P.S. I Love You.”

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Grafton Street!

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The Disney Store! ūüėć

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Back to the Old Storehouse for dinner!

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We did scrutinize the technique and pour of the Guinness… but it was still good!

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Gorgeous at night!

More snippets of our trip to come! In the meantime, check out our Instagram for more photographs!

Ioana and Natalie

LettersofWanderlust3


© Letters of Wanderlust, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of any written material and/or photographs without express and written permission from this site’s authors is strictly prohibited. Please get in touch if you would like to republish any of our materials or if you would like to work on a project together!

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Shamrocker All Ireland Rocker Day 6: We Left Our Souls in Ireland!

Sorry for the hiatus!

It has been a crazy couple of weeks for the both of us – trying to balance life and work. And special events – like my childhood friend’s wedding, which is in less than a week’s time!!! So there have been dress fittings, a bridal shower and lots of cookies being trialed, tossed, baked and iced! And I’ve started moonlighting at a second job, although some might call it my third job… Plus, there’s a ballet performance coming up – so there have been and will be many more ballet classes and rehearsals before this week is done! I feel like I’ve been running around like crazy these past 2 weeks!

AND THEN…

We are leaving on a jet plane in less than a week’s time – headed for Dublin and then onwards to beautiful Italy! We’ve barely had any time to plan this trip! So we gotta get on that pronto… Starting next Wednesday, check us out on Instagram for more of our Italian adventures.

But enough of that! Let’s take you back to the beautiful Emerald Isle!

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After a spot of lunch, a visit with Fungie and a wander around Dingle, we piled back onto our bus and embarked on our next adventure exploring the Dingle Peninsula on the world famous Slea Head Drive.

The circular Slea Head Drive, starts and ends at the town of Dingle. Heading out of Dingle, I stared out of the bus window and tried to memorize the amazing scenery passing by… beaches, cliffs, ocean and waves – each more beautiful than the last.

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And then came the hairpin turns… We were told that tour buses do the drive clockwise. I don’t imagine it would be much fun to have two tour buses facing each other and trying to edge past one another on these tight narrow roads – much less if they were on one of those hairpin turns! So it makes sense to have a set direction. However, this presents a conundrum for other drivers… Do you go clockwise and follow behind these tour buses? Or do you go counterclockwise and end up facing these tour buses head on – and possibly need to navigate your vehicle backwards on these narrow roads? Which adventure would you choose?!

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Besides the sharp turns and the cliffs, you’ll also want to watch out for… SHEEP! Or as they are called: Suicidal Sheep! Gillian, our tour guide, warned us about them. Look at how nonchalant they are – just perched there and munching on grass, without a care in the world. Don’t they know that one wrong step could send them tumbling off into the water?!

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Check out that cute little one in the left bottom corner – just photobombing!

We also spotted some beehive huts on our drive. A beehive hut is also known as cloch√°n. What a remarkable structure to be able to withstand the rain, wind and storms off the Atlantic.

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We also drove by some ruins – perhaps from the Great Famine, we were told.

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We got a chance to step off the bus for some fresh air and to admire the gorgeous view.

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So peaceful and quaint!

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And some lovely neighbours too!

Once we were back on the Slea Head Drive, we spotted the Sleeping Giant!

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Can you spot him?

The Sleeping Giant or the Dead Man (An Fear Marbh) is actually the island of Inishtooskert or¬†Inis Tuaisceart.¬†Inis Tuaisceart¬†means¬†“northern island” in Irish Gaelic.

This island forms part of the Blasket Islands off the west coast of Ireland. Since 1953, the Blasket Islands no longer had any human inhabitants, as it was deemed unsafe to live there. The Blasket Islands are home to lots of wildlife however, including seabirds, whales and dolphins. Even though no one lives on the Blasket Islands anymore, you can take a boat tour and spend a day visiting the Great Blasket Island. We think it would be a grand adventure!

Inis Tuaisceart really does look like a Sleeping Giant, doesn’t it?

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Then Dunmore Head came into view. Some people would argue that this is the westernmost point of Ireland and mainland Europe. What a breathtaking vista! As you may already have noted from our previous posts on Inis Mór, I have a thing for cliffs, the ocean, crashing waves and gorgeous scenery! So I was happy just admiring the scenery, committing it all to memory and snapping away on my camera.

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We made a stop at Coumeenoole Beach. Just one look at it gave me goosebumps Рwith its green jagged cliffs, the smooth sand and the crashing waves coming in from the Atlantic Ocean.

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This next photograph is one of my favourites from Day 6 of our All Ireland Rocker tour. It is rugged beauty at its finest.

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The mesmerizing waves rolling in from the wild Atlantic Ocean – seemingly calm in the distance but gathering speed and force as they crash onto the rocks and onto the beach.

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Look at this gorgeous stretch of beach! Who would have thought Ireland would have beaches like this – certainly not me! (Same goes for Scotland!)

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Legend has it that if you dip your toes into this part of the Atlantic Ocean, the ocean claims a piece of your soul. You have 20 years to return and claim that part of your soul again. We don’t know whether we actually lost our souls here, but we know a piece of our hearts was left behind in this beautiful and wild part of the Emerald Isle.

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Leaving our souls and footprints on Coumeenoole Beach. This is another one of my favourite photographs from today!

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I was so glad we had plenty of time here – exploring the rocks, reflecting and staring out at the ocean and admiring the power of the waves! (See – it’s my fascination with waves and ocean and water showing through again!)

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I would never leave such a gorgeous place without a ballet photograph!

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The lighting at this time made for some dramatic photographs and we just couldn’t help taking a bunch of fun photographs!

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Gazing…

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And the gazing continues…

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I think it would be amazing to make the Slea Head Drive early in the morning and catch the sunrise right here – at Coumeenoole Beach. What an experience that would be! It’s on the list for our future road trip through Ireland! But for now, there was more exploring in store for us!

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Leaving Coumeenoole Beach and a piece of our souls… We’ll be back in 20 years!

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Stay tuned for the next part of the Slea Head Drive!

Ioana and Natalie
LettersofWanderlust3


© Letters of Wanderlust, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of any written material and/or photographs without express and written permission from this site’s authors is strictly prohibited. Please get in touch if you would like to republish any of our materials or if you would like to work on a project together!

 

 

Shamrocker All Ireland Rocker Day 6: From Ennis to Dingle

After a great night out in Ennis, complete with Irish dancing and trad music, we set off for Day 6 of our All Ireland Rocker tour. And it would be a good one! We were off to the Dingle Peninsula to check out the westernmost area of Ireland. Some would even argue this to be the most westerly point of Europe (excluding Iceland!).

We had a bit of a drive from Ennis to our destination. We were glad, since that gave us a chance to relax and check out the scenery that was passing by. On our way, we passed by Bunratty Castle Рa 15th century Tower House. It is now a famous tourist attraction, holding medieval castle banquets complete with a lord and lady, musicians, period costumes and entertainment!

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Bunratty Castle

We also caught a glimpse of some ruins from the highway. I wonder what this used to be and what its history is… I think a road trip through Ireland may be in order – so we can explore small towns, castle ruins and stay as long or as short as we like!

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We also made a stop to take in the gorgeous views of Tralee Bay.

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The green of Ireland still amazes me. We live in the Pacific Northwest, in a temperate rainforest. And we think we get a lot of rain – hence Raincouver… But our green is still nothing compared to the green of Ireland.

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We finally drove into Dingle just before lunchtime.

Dingle or¬†Dingle/Daingean U√≠ Ch√ļis, is a town on – you guessed it – the Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry. Most visitors, like us, stop here before or after the Slea Head drive.

After getting off the bus, we were greeted by one of Dingle’s most famous residents – Fungie the Bottlenose Dolphin! It is said that Fungie has been living in the waters surrounding Dingle since 1983. He is apparently friendly with swimmers, surfers and divers. He is quite a celebrity in town – he even has his own Instagram account!

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Fungie!

We were given some time to stroll around Dingle and to stop for lunch, before the highlight of our day – the Slea Head Drive.

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Taking in colourful Dingle!

Wandering into a cute little stone archway, we came across Danno’s Restaurant and Bar. I settled for one of their specials – the Smoked Salmon P√Ęt√© dish, while Ioana got the clam chowder.

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We still had some time after our lunch, so we went for a wee wander around Dingle. Love the colourful buildings!

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And we couldn’t stop in Dingle without trying Murphy’s ice cream! Their ice creams are made with fresh and natural ingredients, right in Dingle. They even boast using “milk from the rare and indigenous breed of Kerry cow.” How could we not try it?

I got a scoop of Irish Whiskey and a scoop of Kerry Cream. Even though it wasn’t a sunny or warm day, the ice cream was just perfect – creamy, rich and flavourful! (We just discovered they have a branch in Dublin! Might need to stop by on our next trip!)

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After finishing our ice cream, we headed back to Fungie and the carpark – excited for our next adventure and highlight of the day. Next up is the Slea Head drive!

Stay tuned for some epic photographs of waves, cliffs, beaches and beautiful sunsets – basically all of my favourite things!

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Ioana and Natalie

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© Letters of Wanderlust, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of any written material and/or photographs without express and written permission from this site’s authors is strictly prohibited. Please get in touch if you would like to republish any of our materials or if you would like to work on a project together!

 

 

Shamrocker All Ireland Rocker Day 5: Overnight in Ennis!

After the Cliffs of Moher, everyone on our tour was pretty much tired out! Our guide Gillian clearly understood this because we made no stops on the way to our hostel! That night, we would be staying in the town of Ennis!

Lovely River View from our Hostel

Ennis is the largest town in County Clare and the 11th largest in all of Ireland! It is on the River Fergus, which offers some splendid views! We didn’t have much time to actually explore the city, and this is the only downside of being on a tour. You are on a set schedule – which means the you might not have time to explore the cities that you may want to see more of. But as we said countless times before, this is just another reason for us to return to Ireland and delve deeper into its hidden treasures!

As we were arriving in Ennis, Gillian was telling us a tentative plan for the night: get to the hostel, go eat dinner, then head out for some live music and Irish dancing! We were a tad over excited for the Irish dancing since we had been anticipating it since we had been in Galway! Not only this but Ennis and County Clare in general, is known for its abundance of traditional Irish music!

Our hostel for the night would be the Rowan Tree Hostel. It was a lovely escape from some of the smaller, cramped rooms we had stayed in. The hostel was right in the centre of Ennis, so it was close to all the pubs, shops and lovely town sights.

Our room held 8 people but it was airy and large enough so we didn’t feel like there were so many of us sleeping in one room! After unpacking what needed to be unpacked and finally taking a much needed shower,¬†we set out to explore Ennis.

Exploring the Streets of Ennis

We decided to grab some snacks for our bus ride tomorrow and what better place to do this than the local Tesco! If we haven’t already mentioned before, Tesco became the place where we could find good, cheap lunches to take with us everyday! (And delicious cheese and onion Pringles – which we became addicted to and have not been able to find here at home!!)

Walking to Tesco, we saw a bit of Ennis but most stores were already closed, seeing as it was almost dinner time! We grabbed our snacks for the following day and headed back to our hostel. Walking along Francis Street, we saw some lovely sites, like this local Roman Catholic Church built in the Gothic style!

Church of the Immaculate Conception on Francis Street

For dinner, Gillian organized our whole group to have dinner at the little restaurant adjoining our hostel! Who would have thought we would be eating Mediterranean food in a town in Ireland! The Rowan Tree Cafe Bar offered a delicious selection of food at very affordable prices. We decided that since it had been a long day, we deserved a glass of wine! To accompany it, I had the Baked Wicklow Brie – a lovely platter of Brie with Pear Chutney and crusty loaf!!! Unfortunately, I was so hungry I didn’t even get to take a picture of it… You’ll just have to trust me when I say it was delicious ;). Natalie and another trip mate shared a salad and the Pizza Margheritta. It was just as delicious as my Brie platter, I would know I took a bite =D.

After satisfying our stomachs and relaxing for a bit, we made our way to what would be the highlight of our evening!!! Following Gillian’s advice, we headed over to the Knox Pub for an evening of traditional Irish music and dance. As mentioned before, in Galway we had been robbed of the opportunity to try¬†Irish dancing and this night in Ennis would be the night we learned how to do it.

After obviously – having a pint or two, we headed up to the empty part of the Knox Pub so that Gillian could give us a crash course on how to dance like the Irish! Although we were amazingly uncoordinated, it was probably one of the most fun nights on our tour. Don’t let anybody tell you Irish dancing is a breeze… its upbeat tempo and constant need for coordination with your own limbs and everyone else’s, can make you out of breath in seconds!! Of course by the end of Gillian’s lesson, we were all well on our way to becoming experts in the art of Irish dancing :P.

County Clare is known for its amazing abundance of traditional music hot spots, especially in Ennis. Gillian knew this and we were able to sit in a very cozy setting to listen to some live local musicians playing some great trad music! It was amazing to say the least and almost made me want to stay in Ennis and just learn how to play alongside them!

Authentic Irish Music – Live!

For me, that was probably the best part of the trip, getting to meet some excellent musicians and have them take requests from our small group in such an excellent setting as the Knox Pub.

Our evening in Ennis was one to remember, that’s for sure, and although we didn’t get to see much of the town, we know we will be returning sometime in the future to explore further!!!

Up next on Day 6 of our Shamrocker All Ireland Rocker tour, we head to Killarney for the night. Get ready to learn about some “beautiful beaches, sheer cliffs and stunning views!”

Stay tuned!

Ioana and Natalie
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© Letters of Wanderlust, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of any written material and/or photographs without express and written permission from this site’s authors is strictly prohibited. Please get in touch if you would like to republish any of our materials or if you would like to work on a project together!

 

 

Shamrocker All Ireland Rocker Day 5: The Cliffs of Moher

After visiting the Mini Cliffs of Moher at the start of Day 5 of our All Ireland Rocker Tour, we finally made our way to the destination I had been waiting for the whole trip: The ACTUAL Cliffs of Moher!!!

As our bus was parking,¬†my feet were itching to get out and start exploring!!! I had such high expectations from pictures I’d seen, that I was hoping not to be disappointed. But then again, how could I be?! The moment we¬†stepped on the stairs that led to the views of the Cliffs around us, I was mesmerized, not to mention the weather was some of the most intense I’d ever experienced in my life!

The view speaks for itself!

“Standing 214m (702 feet) at their highest point they stretch for 8 kilometres (5 miles) along the Atlantic coast of County Clare in the west of Ireland. From the Cliffs of Moher on a clear day one can see the Aran Islands and Galway Bay, as well as the Twelve Pins and the Maum Turk mountains in Connemara, Loop Head to the south and the Dingle Peninsula and Blasket Islands in Kerry.¬†O‚ÄôBrien‚Äôs Tower¬†stands near the highest point and has served as a viewing point for visitors for hundreds of years.” – Check out the Cliffs of Moher website for more on this spectacular location.¬†

O’Brien’s Tower

Fortunately for us, entrance to the Cliffs was included in our Shamrocker All Ireland Rocker Tour.¬†If you are travelling alone, you can buy your tickets online or in person at the cliffs themselves. Ticket prices are¬†‚ā¨6.00 for an Adult and¬†‚ā¨4.00 if you are a Student! If you want to go up to the top of O’Brien’s Tower it is an additional¬†‚ā¨2.00 for an Adult. Although we didn’t do this, it is definitely a reason to go back and see the Cliffs again. The prices are reasonable for the sights you are going to be seeing.

The Promenade and the Cliffs in the Distance!

The Cliffs of Moher website states that if you are driving and planning to visit during peak season, it is advisable to avoid the hours of 11am – 3pm, as this is when it is most crowded. Plan you trip ahead of time so you can make sure you get the best of it!

Also, WEAR LAYERS! I suppose it would depend on the season you are going to visit but, when we visited in September, layers were definitely needed! We experienced rain, very VERY high winds, and gorgeous sunshine all in one day. This weather just added to the dramatic experience of the Cliffs overall!

Remember come dressed appropriately!!!

Even the countryside surrounding the Cliffs was amazing

When we arrived, we were so stunned to see the views that we literally couldn’t stop taking photos. The landscape is truly awe inspiring in its grandeur. We could barely pull ourselves away from the breathtaking vistas. At first, we climbed the promenade stairs up to O’Brien’s Tower. The tower itself is like a little castle. It was built as an observation tower for the hundreds of visitors that came through the area each year. As stated above, we didn’t go see the views from the top of the tower but we will definitely do so next time ;).

Getting closer to O’Brien’s Tower! Notice the viewing deck on top!

The Cliffs have an extensive history created by wind, waves and a little bit of Irish Legend. As with Giant’s Causeway, there are a number of legends linked to the Cliffs. After reading through them, my favourite would have to be about the Mermaid of Moher.

The Legend goes as such:

“There once was a local man who saw a mermaid while fishing from the Cliffs of Moher. He engaged her in conversation and while they were speaking together he noticed, lying on a nearby rock, her magic cloak.¬† This cloak she needed to wear to be able to return to sea. Seeing an opportunity to capture the mermaid, he grabbed the cloak and ran off to his house, where he hid the magical garment.

She followed him to his house to get the cloak back but it was well hidden. She agreed to marry the fisherman and they had a son and daughter. But one day some years later, while her husband was fishing out at sea, she found her cloak. He came home to find her gone, returned to the sea and he and his children never saw her again.”

This is only one of the Legends associated with this area. Maybe if you look out onto the water, you can spot the Mermaid wearing her cloak! If you want to read some of the other Legends you can do so here.

Light and Shadow – What an amazing sight!

Besides the fact that the Cliffs have Legends attached to them, they are also so famous that they are featured in many movies! If you’re a fan of the Harry Potter series, you may or may not know that the Cliffs were the site for a specific scene from the Half Blood Prince movie. The scene in particular is when Harry and Dumbledore enter a cave to find the Horcrux! Yes, that cave was in the¬†Cliffs of Moher! Also, if you love the Princess Bride, the Cliffs of Moher were the Cliffs of Insanity in that movie! There are many, many more movies that feature the Cliffs and it’s no wonder why!

No matter where you stand, there is a picture opportunity…

After viewing O’Brien’s Tower, we went back down and started heading towards the Cliffs themselves, of course snapping about 100 more photos on the way!¬†Walking on, we reached a fork in the road!

Do Not Pass?! Of course we won’t…ahrm!

The safe or the adventurous way! In true Irish fashion, and because the path wasn’t blocked :P, we decided to live on the edge, literally, and boy, was it worth it!!!

And that’s how close to the edge we went!

The pathway just continues onward!

The views were spectacular…I didn’t want to leave!! We continued down the unobstructed pathway and ended up getting really close to the edge to take same amazing photos of the promenade area we had been at earlier with O’Brien’s Tower.

O’Brien’s Tower in the distance

The ocean views are stunning! I bet it would be just as amazing viewing the Cliffs from the ocean, as it is from walking on them. You can actually get a guided tour, in addition to a cruise from sea level! You can book this when you purchase your tickets and I bet this would be a once in a lifetime experience! Another reason for us to come back for a visit ;).

Endless Sky. Endless Ocean. Reflections abound!

If you continue to walk along to the southernmost tip of the Cliffs, apparently you reach the Hag’s Head. At this location is the Moher Tower, which is the ruin of an old watchtower.

“The human story and history of the Cliffs of Moher dates back at least two thousand years as the name derives from a 1st Century BC fort that stood where Moher Tower now stands. The old Irish word ‚ÄúMothar‚ÄĚ means ruined fort and it is this that gives the cliffs their name.”

Unfortunately we didn’t have enough time to walk all the way to the southernmost tip, so we didn’t get to see the Moher Tower. We walked long enough that we could take some amazing shots and absorb the wonder of what was before us but we DEFINITELY have to go back and explore more!

Can you spot Moher Tower?!

After noticing that our time was running out, sadly, we started to walk back along our perilous path, but couldn’t resist taking some silly pictures along the way.

Who knew you could capture the tower between your fingers?!

Goofing around!

Walking back, we also made some new friends…

Moo!

It’s crazy how on one side of the Cliffs, there are cows grazing and then the other leads to some of the most amazing scenery in Ireland!

It’s insane how blue the sky is, when just a couple minutes before it was overcast!

I would have to say that the Cliffs of Moher were probably my favourite part of the trip to Ireland. As I said earlier, I had high expectations and they were so completely met. I loved the wind, rain and sun. I loved the mist and the clouds and the mystery that these Cliffs offer their visitors!

The Cliffs of Moher truly did capture our hearts with their mystery and magic!

Go Visit the Cliffs everyone!!!

Sadly, we had to leave the Cliffs behind us but we weren’t leaving County Clare without a little bit of Irish dance and authentic Irish music!!!

Stay tuned to find out how that went!

Ioana and Natalie
LettersofWanderlust3


© Letters of Wanderlust, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of any written material and/or photographs without express and written permission from this site’s authors is strictly prohibited. Please get in touch if you would like to republish any of our materials or if you would like to work on a project together!

 

Shamrocker All Ireland Rocker Day 5: The Mini Cliffs of Moher!

Leaving Galway behind, I was extremely excited to be finally getting to the Cliffs of Moher on Day 5 of our All Ireland Rocker Tour! This was probably the most anticipated part of the tour for me! Driving along, Ireland didn’t disappoint – giving us some beautiful views of the countryside.

Proof that Ireland is actually all green!

Getting closer to the Cliffs, our tour guide Gillian said we would be making a small stop before arriving at our destination. I honestly didn’t want another stop, I wanted to get to the Cliffs! But, after stopping and seeing what we saw, I’m glad we took the time!

We stopped at what is known as the “Mini Cliffs of Moher!”

Mood Setting Scenery

The landscape here was already changing and there were more rocky surfaces rather than arable farmland!

Similar to the Aran Islands, rocky surfaces are evident here

Clearly this rocky land would make for some beautiful scenery and Mini Cliffs!

People started building with the rocks!

If you are on your way to the Cliffs, do make a stop here and you won’t be disappointed.

Rock, Water, Sunshine!

The area is not as touristy and if you are lucky, you may or may not be the only people here taking pictures and enjoying the scenery.

Enjoying the View

 

From the Mini Cliffs you also get a teasing glance at the actual Cliffs in the distance!

Can you spot the Cliffs?

We spent some time taking photographs and enjoying the sunshine while exploring some of the rocky landscape.

Nothing better than a picture on the edge of a cliff

After having our fill of selfies and scenic photographs, Gillian rounded us all up and we climbed back aboard our bus and onto our final destination:

THE CLIFFS OF MOHER!!!

Stay tuned!

Ioana and Natalie
LettersofWanderlust3


© Letters of Wanderlust, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of any written material and/or photographs without express and written permission from this site’s authors is strictly prohibited. Please get in touch if you would like to republish any of our materials or if you would like to work on a project together!

Shamrocker All Ireland Rocker Day 5: Shopping in Galway

After an amazing day spent on Inis Mór, we were sad to be leaving Galway and the Aran Islands on Day 5 of our All Ireland Rocker tour! Ireland continued to amaze us more and more each day we travelled! Luckily for us, we had a late start the morning following our trip to Inis Mór and could spend a bit of time leisurely exploring the streets of Galway.

Eyre Square

I am so glad that we got to actually explore the city! Galway is truly an amazing place full of character, where old world meets new world charm. Galway is situated in the West of Ireland and lies on the River Corrib between Lough Corrib and Galway Bay. It is in the province of Connacht and is surrounded by County Galway. It is also the fourth most populous urban area in the Republic of Ireland! Not only this but Galway is what they call a University Town. If you’ve ever visited a University Town, you’ll know it is full of energy, excitement and always buzzing, probably because of all the youth populating the area :).

A splendid morning to be roaming around Galway!

Dave (our guide) had already told us that we should use this morning to go shopping for our Claddagh rings (more to come on that) and also to grab a lunch before we hit our main destination for the day.

Kegs, kegs and more kegs! Just sitting outside for another fun pub-filled day!

After eating breakfast at one of the best hostels we had that trip, Kinlay Hostel, we set out to buy lunch before we went shopping. After much deliberation, we got Subway and headed out for a much needed exploration of Galway.

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I was glad we could get a better look at Eyre Square that lovely morning. As usual, and obviously because we had somehow gotten the Luck of the Irish (probably that rainbow we saw ūüėČ ) we got sunshine following us around!

Eyre Square is an inner-city public park. Clearly bustling already so early in the morning, it was obvious school had started and everyone was about.  As we walked around, we got to take a look at some of the art pieces around the square and learn a bit about its history. We were told the flags in the square represent the original 14 Tribes of Galway. These are the 14 families who dominated the political, commercial and social life of the city between the 13th century and late 19th centuries. They are memorialized here in the centre square for all to remember!

The Flags of the 14 Tribes

Next, we noticed a piece of a wall enclosed in plexiglass. Of course being the architectural nerd that I am, I immediately wanted to learn more. Apparently, this fragmented piece of building is known as the Browne Doorway. This is the ground floor doorway and 1st floor window that came from the Mansion of Dominic Browne and his wife Maria Lynch dated 1627. It is a fine example of Renaissance of Architecture and was moved to the square in 1905. It had previously been used as a Gate into Eyre Square but since then, on the 300th anniversary of the Square, had been enclosed in plexiglass for protection.

Browne Doorway

If you want more information regarding Eyre Square’s history, you can learn more here or here.

History of Browne Doorway

After getting our fill of Eyre Square, we decided to move into the flattering shopping/food district of Galway. Only now do I realize this colourfully beautiful part of the city is called the Latin Quarter and that it is “where Galway comes alive”! We had been to several pubs the 2 nights before and had seen the bustling pub night life. But it certainly looks different in the daylight and during the day it was just as mesmerizing! It was the epitome of old world meets new world charm!

Latin Quarter full of shops and places to eat!

Clearly this city is known for its Claddagh ring history. We were determined to find ourselves the best fitted Claddagh rings for our personalities. There are many different designs that you can choose – based on what suits you best, but the story behind the ring stays the same!

The Claddagh ring is a traditional Irish symbol of love that was/is¬†given as an engagement ring or pre-engagement ring. Nowadays the ring can be worn whether you are single, engaged or married. There are a variety of legends related to the rings’ origins – this particular one tells of:

“A¬†Prince who fell in love with a common maid. To convince her father his feelings were genuine and he had no intentions of “using” the girl, he designed a ring with hands representing friendship, a crown representing loyalty, and a heart representing love. He proposed to the maid with this ring, and after the father heard the explanation of the symbolism of the ring, he gave his blessing.”

Of course, that is my favourite story but the legend probably closest to historical truth can be read here.

Jewelry Stores all over the place!

The Ring itself was designed in a fashion to illustrate friendship, loyalty and love, all of which should be present in a romantic relationship! There is a specific way the ring should be worn:

  • On the right hand with the point of the heart toward the fingertips, the wearer is single and may be looking for love.
  • On the right hand with the point of the heart toward the wrist, the wearer is in a relationship.
  • On the left hand with the point of the heart toward the fingertips, the wearer is engaged.
  • On the left hand with the point of the heart toward the wrist, the wearer is married.

So! If you do decide to purchase a Claddagh ring when in Galway, be sure to wear it based on your relationship status ;), or you may find a Irish fellow looking to change the direction of the heart!

 

Of course, we had to go into a dozen stores before we found the perfect one in which to find our Claddagh rings. McCarthy’s Jewellery¬†store was the perfect and most affordable place to get a ring!

Obviously the Claddagh ring has been commercialized to the point that almost every store carries a version or another, but not all are of the same quality. If you want an affordable (especially if you are travelling on a budget) and good quality ring, McCarthy’s is the place to go! The store was tiny and offered some of the prettiest and most appropriate Irish designed jewellery I had seen on the trip. I personally couldn’t decide which ring Claddagh ring I wanted, so I opted for a ring made of Celtic Knots to remind me of my trip to Ireland!

My Irish Knot Ring (that I now wear everyday)

Prices are affordable at around 15-30¬†‚ā¨ and are of 0.925 sterling silver! I’ve worn my ring everyday since the trip and am glad to say that it’s still in the same shape, which speaks to its quality! So, if you want a to take a little piece of Galway home, don’t hesitate in purchasing either a Claddagh ring or some other jewellery piece before you go!


Our morning flew by and having successfully purchased our rings and some souvenirs, before we knew it, we had to return to the Hostel, meet our group, and set out on our next adventure!

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We were sad to leave Galway ūüė¶

Natalie mentioned in her last post that we were leaving our tour guide Dave this day as well and this is a feature of the tour. Because we had more than one type of tour on our bus (5 day and 7 day), we were now leaving behind the 5 day group and merging with another group who was either on a 3 day or 5 day tour.

It was disconcerting to say the least and strange to invade the bus of another group! This was probably my least favourite part of the tour because we had already formed groups and so had the people on the other tours! It’s definitely difficult to connect with another group when you had already done things¬†and seen sights they might not have seen and vice versa! Even so, our new tour guide Gillian was great and definitely made the transition smoother than it might have gone otherwise!

It seemed to be a pattern that every locale we left behind in Ireland made us sad to leave. Galway was no exception. Leaving the bustling town behind, we got on our new tour bus and headed towards our next and one of my favourite, if not my favourite, sites in all of Ireland: The Cliffs of Moher!!

On our way to the Cliffs of Moher!

Stay tuned to see the sheer massiveness and beauty of these cliffs!

Ioana and Natalie
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