Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Rocks and cliffs and bikes

Yesterday we arrived in Doolin, County Clare. Doolin is mostly here because it's close to some beautiful sights - so basically for tourism, or for the tourists that make it all the way out here. That's because the coast is too rough for fishing, and the land is too rocky for farming. There are some cattle and dairy cows and sheep, a lot of open land, and a lot of tourists driving around lost in their rental cars (sometimes on the wrong side of the road).

Unlike Dingle, which had a ton of restaurants and pubs and shops, there are four places to eat in Doolin. It looks like more places are open during the summer, but this is low season and choices are more limited. So we ate twice at two pubs, had drinks at another, and walked into the last one and decided to leave. The place we are staying here is a normal B and B outside of town, not as cushy as the guest house in Dingle. There are cows across the street and it's so dark that we decided driving to town is safer than walking there at night.

Today we rented bikes and tried riding out to the Burren. There's a route to follow but we took a couple of wrong turns and missed part of it. The roads go up and down past sheep and cow pastures, a few old churches, some little houses with clothes hanging out on the line, and some great views. We were definitely off the beaten path - so much so that when we got way out there and weren't sure where to go, it started to rain and turn colder, and suddenly the road only went uphill. There were some miserable moments. We found our way back though, the rain stopped, and we decided that 20 or 30 miles on a rented squeaky hybrid bike is a lot harder than the same distance on our road bikes with the right gear and flatter roads.

After lunch and a hot shower we drove out to the Cliffs of Moher. They are breathtaking and huge drop-offs to the sea, but also the most touristy place we have been on this trip. With a half full parking lot and a few busloads of tourists in October, I can't imagine how crowded it gets in the summer! I think I heard about five languages just walking around.

We then drove out to the Burren to find what we missed on the bike ride. When you get there, all vegetation ends and it's just rocks all the way down to the water. The rocks go down in stripes like they are made of some giant building blocks and the whole place feels like you've gone to another planet, or at least the moon. Since the road out there is called Corkscrew Road, and with good reason, we felt better about not getting there by bike and then having to climb back up again.

So tomorrow we drive to Dublin in the morning and fly back to Hamburg. It's been a good trip. We met a lot of travelers who were doing one night in each town and driving every day, trying to see the whole country. We much prefer spending more time in fewer places and getting to know them a little better, even if it means having lunch in the same place two days in a row.

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About Me

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Thanks for coming to my blog. It started as a way to keep in touch with family and friends, and now has become an ongoing project. I'm an American living in Germany and trying to travel whenever I can. I write about my experiences as an expatriate (the interesting ones and the embarrassing ones), and about my travels. There are some recurring characters in this blog, particularly my husband Brian and several of our friends. The title comes from the idea that living in a foreign country means making a lot of mistakes. So the things you used to do easily you now have to try over and over again. Hopefully, like me, you can laugh at how idiotic it feels. If you have happened upon my blog, then welcome. Knowing that people are reading what I write makes me keep going. Feel free to write comments or suggestions for future posts.