Sunday, September 12, 2010

Western Ireland

The west coast of Ireland is rugged and rainy due to the pounding Atlantic Ocean. We only had a few days and wanted to spend time exploring the rugged landscape. Although the Dingle Peninsula was highly recommended to us by both Rick Steves and a few friends, we opted for Doolin in County Clare. Doolin is a tiny village known for good live music and located on the coast near The Burren national park.
Apparently, we weren't the only ones who heard about Doolin's music scene. The four local pubs got mobbed with tourist buses (the bane of my existence) every night. Not only that, but the music wasn't as good as what we'd heard in Dublin. But we made the most of it by chatting with some visiting Germans. It was a very funny situation. Two other couples and we were crowded at a table together, when the Irish couple asked the Germans where they were from. The Irish couple replied, "Wirklich? Wir haben in der Schweiz gewohnt." To which I replied, "Also, alle in Doolin sprechen Deutsch." ("Really? We lived in Switzerland." "Apparently everyone in Doolin speaks German.") The German couple were quite surprised that the Irish people and the Americans sitting with them could all speak German, and we had a very nice conversation, and the German couple were nice enough to give us a lift back to our hostel. (It was pouring by then.)

We drove along the coast and hiked in the Burren. The landscape was unbelievably rocky; I can't imagine trying to farm this land. The Burren was unfortunately very touristy, but we did have one nice hike away from the crowds.
atop a huge hill in the Burren

The main draw of the Burren are the neolithic sites. We managed to see a few-- the frustration was a lack of trails, which made me hesitant to wander too far away from the car, there aren't exactly a ton of landmarks on this kind of terrain. But maybe with better organization, one could see more of the neolithic sites away from the crowds. Here is a very visited tomb entrance that was pretty cool.
All in all, western Ireland is very cool, but if I were to go back, I'd probably pick a different place to stay.

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