Ireland Part I

We didn’t have a plan for our first day in Ireland. We were staying in Dublin, and decided to just walk for the day and see what we saw.

The hotel didn’t provide any breakfast, but they did provide a “HandyPhone” — a mobile phone with a data plan free for us to borrow for the day. We brought it with us, but we didn’t end up using it at all.

We Googled around a bit to find a breakfast place and a path there; we stopped for coffee on the way. Breakfast at Beanhive was very tasty, although it’s a tiny little shop and we ended up sitting at a table outside. KrisDi had the Irish Plate, and I had scrambled eggs. I asked for hot sauce, had to work a bit to explain the concept, and then the proprietor said, “Let me go ask the ladies downstairs.” He came back later with a pickled/dried/oiled pepper mixture familiar to me as a Chinese condiment. I had coffee, KrisDi had tea, some stranger had a cappuccino with an impressive likeness of herself in the foam. It was a nice breakfast.

We walked from there to Dublin Castle. On the way, we passed by an interesting donut shop. We didn’t go into the castle, just walked around it. We did stop and get Mom some earrings at their gift shop. Then we headed to the neighborhood magnificent cathedral — Christchurch.

It was, of course, beautiful and historic. This one let us into the crypt, where they had lots of neat stuff including a mummified rat and cat that (it is thought) fell into the pipes of the organ, died, desiccated, and stayed for centuries before being found during maintenance or cleaning or something. KrisDi bought hats for the kids from their gift shop.

We meandered on to the nearby River Liffey. It was fairly boring. We decided to head to the Guinness Storehouse, but ran across the Brazen Head, the oldest bar in Dublin (claiming to have been a pub on that site since 1198). We decided we should stop in for a pint. Then I failed to order an Irish Coffee, instead getting an Irish Whiskey, which was nice — Teeling Single Malt.

On our way to Guinness, we encountered a wacked out local. Apparently he saw me walking with the big camera in my hand, and came up behind me and started posing with a huge smile and two thumbs up and saying, “Take my picture!” I didn’t notice him until KrisDi nudged me. Luckily he wasn’t mean or aggressive or anything like that — just weird. We did end up taking a picture of him.

When we got to Guinness, we decided it wasn’t worth going on a two hour tour just to see the gift shop. Seems weird that they would require anything aside from interest to enter a gift shop.

We picked a destination for lunch and got drawn in by a place named the Beer Market on the way (great beer marketing, right?). We stopped in for a pint, and ended up having two plus lunch. Talking with staff, we learned it’s owned by Galway Brewing.

My IIPA was really good. KrisDi’s beers were pretty good. They disappointed me by being out of chicken schnitzel, so I got a pork burger instead. KrisDi had braised beef shortrib philly with onion and cheese on a baguette. All the food was good. The staff was really friendly, knew a lot about beer and the local scene. A film crew came in to make an advertisement, and our waitress was less than delighted to be filmed.

I found Molloy’s on Google and thought it would make a good stop. Independently, our waitress recommended it, which finalized the decision. We bought six bottles there to take back to the room. We stopped at Rolling Donut to pick up the next day’s breakfast. We chilled at the room for a while, put the beer in the fridge with the chocolate from Talisker. I made some work phone calls, and we went through photos from previous days to post on Facebook, searching and planning our next day.

We had dinner at the Chop House. I had lamb rump medium rare — very good. KrisDi had 35 day aged prime limousin 10oz Ribeye, which was not as good as it sounds. We went back to the room to drink beer and go through pictures some more and juggle the contents of our luggage again.

We put the HandyPhone back where it came from and went to bed.


We got up at six, checked out before seven. No breakfast was provided, just the donuts we bought the day before. We had a two and a half our drive to Galway. We stopped for coffee. Google Maps tried to take us on a nonexistent road. We parked on the street in Galway. Stopped for coffee and a sausage roll at a local shop. We went to see our first destination, Lynch’s castle. Disappointingly, it was basically just a bank on a street corner. We walked around a nearby park (Eyre Square) and then we went to a knitcraft store across the street, where KrisDi bought herself a hat and I had to loiter outside because my coffee wasn’t allowed inside.

Then we went to Saint Mary’s cathedral, which was beautiful and ornate on the inside. We walked to the Spanish Arch, which was boring and disappointing. We went back to the car to feed the parking meter and have lunch across the street at Dail. It won a coin flip against a kebab place. But, we had to kill time until noon, so we went to a nearby chocolate shop, where KrisDi scalded the inside of her mouth on her hand made hot chocolate, spitting a nontrivial amount of it on the ground. Mine was mint chocolate, and hers was praline space. Very tasty.

We wandered through a nearby shopping center until we went to lunch at Dail, which was disappointing.

We drove toward the Burren, somewhat confused by the multiple similarly labeled destinations on Google Maps. On our way, driving across scary single lane roads, we ran across Kilmacduagh, a 1400 year old church now a cow pasture and cemetery. It seems ludicrous to just run into this kind of thing — and for it to have turned into an every-day pasture.

We continued our drive, and found the head of several hiking trails. We followed the easiest. It rained on us a little bit. The Burren is fascinating territory to look at. Barren, rocky, rugged. All over Ireland are these super cool walls made of piled rocks, and there are lots visible in the Burren.

We drove to a different Burren site, closer to the ocean, and walked through crowds of other tourists there. Rocky cliffs over the sea. It was really cool. Some clearly expert climbers were on the cliffs, and some clearly idiotic tourists were running and jumping across the rocks.

Our next stop was the Cliffs of Moher, probably most famously known as the Cliffs of Insanity (but also having some cameo in Harry Potter somewhere). This was beautiful and fascinating. We read or heard somewhere that there were puffins, but we couldn’t see any. Until we used the megalens — then we saw that there were thousands covering the rocks and cliffs. We spent a fair amount of time wandering around and taking pictures here (which is part of why we have 700+ pictures on this day alone).

After a while, we went to check in to our room at Island View. The room was big and nice, the bathroom was huge. We had unknowingly driven by and admired that specific house on our way to the Cliffs of Moher a little earlier. We were the only guests that night.

We headed down to the village of Doolin to one of the recommended places for dinner, I think it was called Gus O’Connor. A parked car leaped out and attacked our Qashqai (I got too close to the left side and rubbed against someone’s Toyota’s mirror). We parked, got out, and inspected both cars, but couldn’t find any visible damage on either one. There was, of course, a smirking witness, smoking outside of a nearby bar. We eventually decided we were going to pretend it never happened (I don’t like to do that, but weighing the pain in the ass of a potential international insurance incident against the fact that I couldn’t find even a smudge in the dirt on the car had a pretty clear conclusion). Not proud, but I stand by my decision.

We had a beer (they had Coors, but I didn’t order it). We ate garlic bread, salmon, and bangers & mash.On our way out, we saw a woman strolling happily in the general direction of the car we bumped. We joked that it was the owner, and then she unlocked the car. We immediately started whistling innocently, looking in any direction but hers, and strolled right past our car. She drove away, and we skulked back to our car.

We headed back to the room, ogled some more majestic ruins on the sides of the tiny roads, drank our last beers while going through photos again, and then went back out to the Cliffs of Moher in the hopes of seeing the sunset (scheduled for 9:59:14 PM). It was wet, gray, cold, and we had a lot of fun. We talked with a woman from the US who loved puffins, but hadn’t seen any. We let her look through our camera with the big lens, and we made her day.

We watched the clouds roll in, we took pictures and waited around and became increasingly damp, and then we started taking a picture per second, capturing the full magnificence of the Irish sunset over the span of 18 pictures.

We quickly fled back toward our illegally parked car as the rain picked up. We ran into a weird, slightly creepy, black clad dude reading a sign alone in the darkening night. He asked us how far up we went. Talked a bit, and we mentioned puffins. He lit up, yelled “Puffins!” and I guess he thought to himself, “I guess axe murdering this American couple can wait until I go see puffins!” He literally ran off. Which I guess might have been reasonable considering the increasing rain.

The puffins seemed more active in the evening (or the rain).

We went back to the room and went to bed. The wind and the rain was super, super loud at night.

Posted by snaotheus

3 comments

What’s the story with the colorful doors in Dublin?

The steps on the trail in the Burren look just like some of the (occasional) steps on some trails in Guam. Yes!

No idea about the colorful doors. Just thought they looked cool.

Edited the post to add a paragraph about the happy wack job that really wanted me to take a picture of him.

He gives me a giggle every time.

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