With our first two days full of rain we held high hopes yet low expectations for those ahead of us. Day three started early, again with more food than my stomach was prepared for and this time packed bags and a goodbye to our friendly host, it was time to move on. The itinerary for day three took us around the Dingle Peninsula, up the coast to the Cliffs of Moher and eventually to Galway. With a long day ahead of us we all had fingers and toes crossed for some sun, hours in and out of the car filled with wind and rain didn't sound fun on any account.
Our early start wasn't only because we had along day ahead, we were also making our best effort to avoid the over sized tour buses which flood the narrow, winding roads of Dingle. I love to hate these buses, but I try my best to keep an open mind, I may too go that route one day and I like to appreciate travel in all forms. The sky was promising as we left, blue skies and only a few clouds in the distance, we just hoped that it would remain for the rest of our day. The first stop was in the town of Dingle and despite having just consumed our breakfast spread, we couldn't pass up a stop for Dingle ice cream at Murphys, although we did decide to share. With 6,000 years of history and over 2,000 old ruins, the most in western Europe, we had to be selective in where we stopped, but I think we picked some good ones.
We couldn't have been luckier as we ventured down Slea Head drive, while the antsy side of me wished I had been walking or hiking, the views along the coast did their best to quiet those desires. The first stop me made was the Fahan BeeHive group, a collection of old huts, which like most old ruins left a lot to the imagination, what exactly did these look like thousands of years ago? We eventually made it to the Slea Head lookout point, including a steep walk down to a small beach, but unfortunately by this point we were no longer alone. A few large tour buses had caught up and it was here we saw our first casualty of the day, a poor older woman who didn't anticipate a fast change in high tide and took an unintentional dip in the ocean. Thankfully, she was fine, but I hoped she had a change of clothes in the van or she was in for one long, chilly day of touring. Dingle was impressive and we definitely could have taken more time for exploring, but we had a schedule to meet and thus had to move along.
We could have driven the Conor Pass for our departure from the peninsula, but our host form the night before informed us that should we meet bad weather this is likely where it would be. The low hanging clouds would almost guarantee bad weather and low viability so we played it safe and retraced our steps from the morning. Another bit of helpful information from our host was his suggestion to take the Tarbert car ferry, shaving a good amount of driving time off our day, along with a change in scenery and opportunity to get out of the car. It didn't last long though and we were soon back in and on the road, headed to the Cliffs of Moher. You may be thinking our trip sounds a bit rushed and you'd be right, we were moving much faster than I was used to, but I was just along for the ride.
Entrance to the Cliffs ends at 7 pm (varies by season), but we arrived with still a few hours to spare. Temperatures were beginning to drop while winds at the Cliffs are fierce and the few layers I had with me weren't quite cutting it. I'd be lying if I said whether doesn't affect my mood, but I tried my best to not let it ruin my experience and pushed ahead. The Cliffs reminded me vaguely of my visit to the twelve apostles in Australia, or one of the numerous other cliff faces I've visited in recent years, but that didn't make them any less impressive. After managing to freak my brother out by getting "to close to the edge" we wrapped up our visit and set our sights to Galway.
One of the benefits of traveling with a larger group of companions is the greater chance of having travel connections at your destination. Part of the reason our trip required us to visit Galway was an old friend of both Katie and Beth, whose family just happened to own a guesthouse and were more than happy to provide us a room. We met Stephanie (yes, there were now two of us) in Galway for dinner, but weren't done yet. Our home for the night was actually in Clifden, another hour from the city.
The home and Guinness, potatoes and the Blarney Stone. Ireland was never exceedingly high on my travel list, despite my Uncles passionate endorsement, but upon further investigation I discovered there's a lot to be said about this small, often rainy, country.