Thursday, August 21, 2014

Rothaíocht ar Inis Mór

Day two on the Emerald Isles brought us to the even smaller Aran Islands off the coast of Galway. The night before, when we met our gaggle of guys, we were told that there is actually an airplane that goes to the islands every day, takes only 7 minutes, and costs about €44. Since I am not a fan of planes in general, I can't imagine I would love a tiny contraption that seats only 8 people or so. However, I did not anticipate that mild hangover plus insanely choppy ferry ride would leave me so nauseous that I almost lost it on the hour trip after an equally lengthy bus ride. The plane wasn't looking quite so bad for twice the price. Tragically, it took me a bit of time to let go of the deathlike grip on my stomach, but riding around an Irish Isle on a bicycle as the wind blows through your hair and a light mist of rain brightens your face can certainly change your outlook to the positive. While it was not the clearest of days, Inis Mor is a sight to see and many tourists take the opportunity to rent bikes just off the docks and follow the curves of the luminous cliffs around the land. This is a place where the world seems to have stood still and the natives are lifers who cling to their traditional Irish tongue. The paths are speckled with endless ruins of old abandoned shacks or cottages, the occasional modern dwelling besmirching an otherwise idyllic scene. 

We saw a beautiful beachside, though much too cold to dance in the waves, and chatted with a variety of creatures from horses to cows to seals lounging in the distance. We ventured into an old fort, once defending the coast of this beautiful land and now home to a variety of travelers who walk on its terrain each day. Unlike the Cliffs of Moher, which are so overpopulated with tourists that you cannot walk right up to the edge due to safety precautions, the cliffs here were free from any such impediment, ready to sweep away any unsuspecting soul in the treacherous wind. But the best of all was a naturally occurring structure a bit further down the line fondly referred to as the "Worm Hole". The men we had met the night before claimed they were venturing to the island to jump into this otherworldly swimming pool. You can ride your bicycle only so close before having to foot it the rest of the way, over the winding cliffs, as pockets of water grow deeper and deeper and a brilliantly lime green algae begins to appear. As fate would have it, just as we were making our way from the road to the desert of rocks peppered with wildflowers and litter, we ran into the man who had found me so charming the night before! Apparently his mates had chickened out about the jump, but he at least wanted to see the anomaly before joining them down the pub. It's always a crazy coincidence when you meet a friend or acquaintance in an unexpected location far from where you both live and exist. That was the end of our brief encounter, but a lovely anecdote nonetheless.

As we approached the Worm Hole, I noticed two men in front of us carrying a large white bucket, and to be honest, it took me a while to realize that they were planning to engage in the currently famous ice bucket challenge before taking the plunge into the watery ravine. Quite a backdrop for ALS awareness and I was rather glad to see someone actually participate in the cliff-diving this pool is known for. If I hadn't been fully recovered from the morning nausea before this, I certainly was by that point. We finally cycled our way back into "town", or the closest thing that could be described as such. Once again, I was left with the desire to own and use a bicycle, though knowing that until I live in a slightly less populated metropolis it really isn't possible. Before the ferry back home, we stopped by the pub for a pint or two, and I can happily report that I slept most of the ride home rather than profusely vomiting.

When we made it back to Galway at last, we were bent on food first and foremost, followed by some live "trad" music, an abbreviation I didn't realize existed until my friends kept referring to this as yet unknown form of musical stylings. A local bar called The Craine is famous for their attractions, so we spent a bit of time listening to the sounds of traditional Irish folklore before fully and completely crashing for the evening in our heavenly loft. 

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