Travel slowly, staying in vacation rentals (villas, farms, cottages, apartments)
Report 1922: Coasting Through Ireland on Pints of Cider
By Green Dragon from FL, Spring 2011
Page 12 of 21: Sunday, May 22nd: It's Not My Inner Thighs That Hurt, It's My Inner Butt!
We slept well, and saw sun in the sky, so we set off to breakfast with refreshed vigor and high hopes for the day ahead. Maura had broken her ankle, and was off to an anniversary mass for her mother's death a year ago, so Joe was cooking breakfast for us. I had some wonderful smoked salmon, and loved a country in which I could have this for breakfast and not be considered odd.
We were concerned about the weather. PJ had mentioned that there was a storm due to come in tomorrow, with 45mph winds; he listened to the marine forecast. When I discussed this with Joe and Maura, they did express some concern as well. PJ had thought they might cancel the ferry back, which would mean we needed to stay on the island a third night, and make arrangements for that and a missed night in our next stop.
Maura was certain that they wouldn't cancel the ferry, but we were still a bit worried. The ferry office said they wouldn't know until the time of the ferry the next day, so we decided that, to play it safe, we would take the morning ferry out instead of the noon ferry, as we had planned. That way, if one or even two were canceled, we could still get out on the third. The blow was unlikely to cancel all three. Joe said he'd arrange an early breakfast and a taxi to go out to the docks with us and our stuff. What wonderful service (as long as the taxi wasn't Joe Gill and his blue van)!
Joe said he would order some bikes delivered so we could have a little more mobility and freedom, but they wouldn't be here until 10am. In the meantime, we walked up to the village. No tourists yet this day, so everything was still locked up tight, but we decided to see if we could get through to Dun Aengosa, which was nearby. The visitor centre had evidently just opened up, and I think they were quite surprised to see us so early. We climbed the path up to the 2,500 year old fort, from about sea level to a 300 foot cliff. It was amazing to have the place to ourselves – the last time I'd been there, I was a day-tripper with all the others, and there were probably about 75 people all over the place. This time we had no one but us, the wind, and the now shining sun. It felt prehistoric, momentous, and intimate at the same time. The high wind meant great, crashing, powerful waves far down on the cliffs and rocks below us.
We tore ourselves away from this wonderful place, and got our bikes. Now, this is the first time I'd ridden a bike in probably 25 years, and I wasn't nervous at all until I realized what I was about to try. I'm still a very heavy girl, even though I've lost 100 pounds, I've another 100 to go until I'm at a 'normal' weight. But, after adjusting the seat up much higher than it was (I was hitting my knees on the handlebars!) we headed off towards the Seven Churches.
We saw a sign for Clochan na Carraige – I thought I remembered something about that, but the brown sign gave no indication of what it was. We parked our bikes and started walking down a path. Then down another path. And another – winding through short dry stone fences, we finally gave up. We found out later it was a beehive hut, which is fine, I'd seen many of those before, and V wasn't particularly interested in them. I think that's about the time I took my first spill on the bike, landing on the knee I hadn't hurt when I fell at Carrowmore. I felt better with a matched set – again, it wasn't a particularly injuring fall, but it did concern V that I fell again.
We went on towards Seven Churches, and found it shortly thereafter, about two miles down from the B&B. As we walked down the driveway to the site, there were two farmers (and their dog) trying to get a very upset cow to stay in a pasture. She had another cow with her, and a calf, and she was complaining loudly, and trying to escape at various points in the field. We quickly vacated so the farmers could get their job done without worrying about stupid tourists hanging about getting hurt.
We explored the Seven Churches area a little bit, and took lots of photos (V preferred the beach and coastline, so went and looked at that while I tramped around the church). Again, it was delightful to wander around, get the shots I wanted to get without other people in the way. I found the exact spot I had taken one of my more popular photographs at in 2006, and tried to recreate it. That never works, but I keep trying.
We got back on the bikes and started the long trek to Kilronan – about seven miles from where we now were. We were foolish and did not take the coastal road, not realizing that it was much more up and down, hill and valley. I fell at a couple more times, usually when braking. I couldn't get the bike out of sixth gear (they were both pretty old and rusty, and I think they were both stuck in sixth) so getting up hills was difficult – we walked them up. The bike chain fell off the gears when I tried to switch them, but V figured out how to fix that. Then my brakes seized up on me – I had a bit of a tantrum, and V suggested we switch bikes, since she had ridden them more recently than I had. That seemed to work a little better, and we made it safe and sound to Joe Watty's. I was so ready for a pint and some lunch!
We walked in, and found Declan waiting for his own lunch, so we joined him and chatted some more. I was disappointed that the mackerel salad I had loved the night before wasn't on the lunch menu, but got a Greek Salad instead, and it was delicious. V wasn't yet hungry from the Full Irish Breakfast she had eaten, so we just had some pints and talked politics, education, etc. We left Declan and went off into town for some serious shopping.
I had remembered the large woolen outlet from the last trip, and had been looking forward to the selection. I was looking for a sweater to keep me warm the next winter, so it had to be too small for me now, longer (past the hips), zipper was preferred, pockets, and a darker color. White and off-white don't mix well with me, it gets instantly dirty!
I found one that fit my requirements, but decided to shop at the other shops a bit before deciding. We laughed at some of the kitschy bits for sale, wandered down the street to more shops, bought some things there – and found Declan again. He was evidently bored enough that he agreed to join us shopping – I think he just wanted to see what American tourists considered worth buying. I got the sweater (a nice dark green) and then we had some ice cream at the Spar. We ran into Ken and Maria, hugged everyone goodbye (their ferry was leaving soon) and rode our bikes back along the coastal route. This route was much more level and easier to deal with, and was much more pleasant, despite biking against the prevailing and increasing wind.
We saw the seal colony basking in the surf, and they were so still we at first thought they were statues put there to fool the tourists ... but no, some of them moved a bit! We took copious photos, and moved on to the village near our B&B. They were closing up, but V managed to go in and buy some bits and bobs before they were done. We biked back to the B&B and recharged a bit.
After some relaxation and reconnection, we decided to head for Joe Watty's again – but not by bike. My inner butt hurt too much to try that right away. We were taking a taxi this time! I had told Maura about my previous night's experience with the blue van, and she said she knew just who it was, he had been a problem before. Tourists beware! Don't take Joe Gill's blue van – he has a bad attitude.
Today's taxi driver was John, and he had a jeep. He picked us and another couple up, and took us down to Joe Watty's for dinner. The mackerel salad was back, woohoo! V had her staple of seafood chowder, we had pints, and noticed that most of the folks around on a Sunday night were locals, as opposed to the tourists from the weekend. That made sense, of course – and even at that, most of the tourists had been from other parts of Ireland. But everyone was speaking Irish, and that made it more interesting to me. I tried to catch a word here and there, and barely succeeded.
Some other interesting quotes of the day included: "It's a romantic candlelight dinner now, maybe I can get my thighs rubbed." "I like the soft underbelly." "Mine curl like monkeys around rocks."
We chatted a bit with Grace, PJ's wife, and when she mentioned that her sister makes jewelry, I dragged out my stuff again. She ended up buying a pair of earrings, and offered us a ride home later in the evening. I really do appreciate the way Irish folk do things – and wish it wasn't such an unusual occurrence in the rest of the world that I have to note it as different.
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