25.07.2015 - 29.07.2015
We have been so busy that we have been slacking on our blogging duties. So much has happened in the last 4 days that I am not sure I will get it all in, or remember it. But here goes.
Aran Islands - Syd's Birthday
We had a great time on the Aran Islands, they are absolutely beautiful. The day started with a Ferry ride to the Islands where miraculously we encountered our Irish friend on the Ferry showing her American friends around her country. That was a very nice surprise and we had about an hour and a half of her telling us more about Ireland. That was a great (presumably) last visit for us. There are 3 main islands in the chain (maybe only three, Im not really sure) but there is a big, medium, and small island that ferries run to. We rented bikes and toured the large island called Inishmore for the day. Syd and I loved it and it was a great way to spend her birthday. Here are some pics.
The last pic is of the Cliffs of Moher that we saw a couple of days earlier from the top, this time from the water. Very cool.
Here is Sydney blowing out the candle on her birthday dessert. She is getting so old on me
The next bunch of pics are from various parts of the drive between Galway and Westport. It is a wonderfully gorgeous drive which I think most tourists miss out on. In the last 4 days we have been in the West and Northwest of the country and it is sparsely populated. I also have noticed that the amount of foreign tourists here has also decreased dramatically. There seems to be a lots of Irish tourists but not so many Americans as was the case in the South. I think this is too bad because it may be more beautiful here than it was in the more popular south and the Irish language and culture also seems to be much stronger here. It is a shame that more people do not get here. I am not saying I like it better than the south but it certainly does deserve more visitors. Some pics for you to decide upon.
I may have mentioned this before but we are having some wonderful adventures with the GPS. The GPS likes to "save us 200 meters of travel distance by taking us off the main highways and onto back roads. We lovingly refer to these as "Bob's Road" If you have seen the movie Twister you will know what I am talking about. There are several types of highways in Ireland. Ones that start with M such as M7. These are Motorways and are divided and have multiple lanes each way. We dont get on these too often as we really are going to some off the beaten track places. There are N roads such as N17. These are not divided and usually only have one lane. If there are only 2 numbers after the N these would be typical of rural highways back home. Reasonably wide but one lane in each direction. There are N roads with 3 numbers after such as N239. These can be quite narrow and bendy. They have a speed limit of 80 but often you really cant go that fast. If you do you will miss the turns or get a bunch of air in your tiny rental car (that maybe happened). Then there are L roads with 4 numbers (L2337) or Bobs Roads. There are even L roads with 5 numbers (L23372). These are even worse. L roads have no lines, frequently have overgrown bush cramping the road, almost always have grass growing down the middle and frequently are covered in horse poop. Thats Bobs road. Here is a pic for you.
I have to tell you this isnt even a bad one. There are so many ones worse than these. We never get pics of those because we are too busy folding in our mirrors or backing up the car because this is two lane traffic and we have to back up to a turnout to let cars pass. It has been a lot of fun. We still fall for it because often we need to take these roads but we love it when the GPS takes us off N8 just to do an 800m circular arc back to the N8, great times lol
Below is a picture of Kylemore Abbey. This rich dude fell in love with an Irish girl and built this castle for her. I have to point out that I hate this dude because he is making the rest of us gents look bad, however, I cant blame him. In my time here I can see why he fell in love with an Irish woman. If I had the money I might build a castle myself. Anyways Sydney and I decided I should buy it instead, and conveniently, I wouldn't even need to change the name of it. The castle is built on a lake on like a bagillion acres. It has its own church, and gardens and walking paths and all sorts of stuff. We got a bit lazy with pics starting here so this is all we really have.
After this we were in the Town of Gulway and Westport. We got really lazy with pics here and in fact don't have a single one from either town. I will say that so far one of our favourite towns is Westport. It isn't too big and there are not too many Americans or Germans (no offense to Americans or Germans intended). Although every time we see a German tour bus we laugh and go "Das Tour Bus". Its stupid and makes no sense but we are tired and goofy right now. West port has a nice chilled nightlife and a calm and refined daytime feel. We like it a bunch. We also finally made our way to a traditional Irish dancing show in Westport. There were signs all over town and in the tourist office for the show. We were expecting a large production with hundreds of people. What we got was 30 people attending a youth Irish dance troop. However, before I go on I have to say the dancing was amazing. The boys and girls blew our mind with Irish dancing that you wouldn't even believe. This being said Sydney and I were in for a bit of a surprise. What this basically was is a dance recital for family and friends. It was certainly open to the public but we were the only non-Irish people there except for 2 people from the UK. and of the 30 people there 25 were relations to the dancers. Again, all well in good, no problems lets just watch the dancing and have a good night. However, this is not how family dances go in Ireland. In Ireland, or so I am led to believe from this one experience, the audience are very active participants in the show. The show had dancing but also a lot of signing, which of course the crowd always joined in to and frequently were the only ones signing. Of course Syd and I have not brushed up on our Irish folk music and did not know the words to any songs. We stuck out like sore thumbs. We were asked by the MC of the night to tell us where we were from , we of course said Canada and she assured us that we would be sharing in the signing of a Canadian folk song before the night was up. I can absolutely guarantee she was not joking. She kept on alluding to the second half of the show where people who be coming to the stage and sing or dance. Here is the problem, I dont sing or dance and I really dont know and Canadian folk songs either off by heart. Maybe the Log Drivers Waltz or The Hockey Song but I aint signing any of those. Long story short, we did have to hold hands in a big circle of people and sing Irish songs and somehow we avoided having to sign in front of these people and overall we had a very enjoyable cultural experience. In all about 15 people did come up on the stage and sign or dance. It is amazing, the young and old just stood up, went on stage, and did their thing. The Irish are so proud of there heritage and culture. It is something we very much admire about them even if we dont know the words to the songs. Perhaps Canadians need to be more proud of their culture, or perhaps I just realize I cant sign or dance. In any case it was a beautiful and frightening night.
Tonight we are in Donegal. We cruised the town quickly. Looks very nice again. Here is a quick pic of the harbor. chat again soon. Off for now while we brush up on the North Mayo county song which we may have to sign in the bars tonight. For the record there are 32 counties in Ireland and they all have at least one if not more songs. And everyone is extremely patriotic to their county. So we are in Mayo county now and in the North of that county so we better figure out the song. Funny thing is someone did sing it last night on stage. Should have been more focused
One one more pic, a nice beach we visited today. We contemplated surfing but I was wearing a sweater and was freezing. 13 degrees today and cloudy with high winds, love the Irish summer.