Food, glorious food!
Even the few things we have eaten on this trip that were slightly disappointing have been fantastic.
Last night, we ate at O'Connor's pub, here in Doolin. Erika had the fish and chips, with Bulmer's cider. I had the beef and Guinness stew, with a Murphy's stout, and neither of us wanted to stop eating... But, alas, we had to stop when it started coming out our ears.
Today, I awoke early. Not to the sunrise, but to the sound of the rushing wind as it tore down the valley and returned like the tide to the sea. Where our arrival in town had been greeted by an icy, though fleeting, rain storm, this morning, the skies were clear (for Ireland), which we took as a good sign for smooth sailing to the cliffs of Moher, and the Aran Islands. After and incredible, and entirely filling, breakfast of fruit, home-made yoghurt, orange juice, and porridge with strawberries, brown sugar, and Bailey's Irish Cream (with tea, of course), we drove down to the coast to start the day's adventure. Despite our host having received an email from the man who runs the boat tours, saying they were running today, and telling her the times, the place was empty and locked when we arrived fifteen minutes early. All of the tour shops were closed, and the one we'd come for had a note on the window saying, "No sailing today. Will sail tomorrow", with dates and times.
Not to worry. We are not tourists, set to schedules, and thrown off by changes. We drove off into the wind for a rambling, self guided, tour of The Burren.
The Burren is a large area of protected landscape, kind of like a National Park or preserve, that seems to be a cross section of all of Ireland. It has seashores, grassy hills, plains, and vast expanses of grey rock with gaps and fissures, either from erosion, or having somehow been naturally formed that way, which makes the whole ground look like an enormous cuneiform tablet. It's as though some long dead race of giants carved out their collected knowledge in the surface of the country.
The first place we came to on our alternate excursion was Doolin Cave. It was discovered in the 1950's by two 19 year old English explorers who happened to find a river coming out of a small hole in a hill, and decided to crawl into what turned out to be a 200 meter muddy crawl space that took them all day to get in and out of. To their damp and cold but overwhelming joy, what awaited them was the largest cave in Ireland (that we know of). The chandelier in this underground ballroom is a crystalline calcium rich Cthulhu, seven meters long, over three million years old, weighing over three tons, and still growing.
For the next few hours, we drove around the Burren, though most of the stops along the way were closed, we were fortunate to find the Poulnabrone Dolmen (an ancient standing stone tomb) and Caherconnell stone fort... though that was only visible from the side of the road, since it's not yet open for the season. On completion of the ring around the Burren, and our safe return to Doolin, we went back to the ferry docks to find... still no trips to the cliffs. We are hoping to get one tomorrow though, because they have been the one thing Erika really wanted to experience on this trip (I think it's because they were in Harry Potter and the Halfblood Prince, and she's super nerdy and stuff...), and I would hate for her to miss it.
Tonight, we watched a one legged man who (aside from the missing leg) looked just like the farmer Logan stays with in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, sing Celtic music at the pub. I wish I could be more eloquent and descriptive, but I am going to sleep. I'll see you in the morning.