We woke up, packed our stuff, and went down to the breakfast area where it was in fact time for the Full Irish Breakfast. Our second bed and breakfast, The Castle House, had no other breakfast options, so they served the traditional breakfast I've previously described. It came on a heaping giant plate of food, which was obviously something we were getting used to, and I'll be honest, the puddings didn't really seem all that freaky at first. So I decided to eschew my normal hesitancy, and give those puddings a try. There were 2; black pudding and white pudding. Black pudding is beef or pork fat, some salt and pepper, grains, and some fresh pig's blood. White pudding is the same, but without the vampiric ingredient. Wanna make our own? Go here. Now apparently no one in Ireland thinks this is a strange meal, but who am I to begrudge a people who have until relatively recently gotten by on the best of a small amount of available food. If I had to live on a diet of 85% potatoes, I would very likely feel like experimenting with pig's blood as well. Fortunately, for me, I got to experience the joy of many excellently prepared Irish potatoes (normally fried), but unfortunately, I also decided to give the black pudding the benefit of the doubt.
It was not good. I barely found the napkin in time, and I most certainly didn't make it with a swallow. Remember the picture with the Guinness? It was kind of like that, but much worse. I also came to sort of enjoy the Guinness, where I fear the pig's blood market is going to always be shy of my business.
I don't eat eggs, so I put mine on Lindsay's plate. She got one egg, and I got two, because I guess they feed men more as a matter of course. And she couldn't eat that much, so when we left, it looked like I'd eaten all mine, and she actually found a way to not eat hers, and produce one more. It's not fair, but that's how it worked out. The bacon was sort of palatable, but then sort of not. It's about the size of a medium or large dog's ear, and there's a little tail hat hangs off. That part is like American bacon, and the other part is like that, but without fat, and more like the texture of leather. After the pudding attempt, I fear the sausage had no chance. It was just too similar. And that left the tomato, which was sadly on its own, and I didn't want it.
In an effort to avoid sounding like the pickiest and whiniest eater on the face of the earth (which I know I'm not, because that would have been me at age 10, and I'm much better now, believe it or not), I do have to say that before any of this happened, it didn't really matter because almost every day, we filled up on brown bread and toast. Every morning, they made with the brown bread, and Irish butter, and that stuff is just ridiculously good. Then came the toast, which was a huge amount of toast. I'd eat some fruit, have a bit of tea, and some juice, and I'm full before they bring the real breakfast. By the end, I just told them to not bother bringing the whle cooked breakfast, because the waste of food was getting to me.
In this dining room, there was a family of British people with exceptionally posh accents. In the center of them was their grandmother, who asked each member of her family, about 8-9 times, how they'd slept, and what they were doing that day. Her voice was magnificent in it's comedy. It was high pitched and squeaky, as if it was off an old re-run on PBS with lots of old people which teenage girls who practice Wicca think is funny. And every time she repeated the questions, it got funnier and funnier. For the record, they slept fine, and the girl was going to resume her windsurfing lessons. Oh yes, they windsurf in Ireland, and they'll teach you how to do it as well.
We didn't really have much to do on this day, and we didn't have that far to go, so we were going to take it easy. Originally, we would have had to drive around the mouth of the Shannon River, into Limerick, and then back to go up the coast, and get to the Cliffs of Moher, and then find a place to stay, but we figured out that there was a ferry that crossed the Shannon, and would avoid Limerick, and let us stay on the coast, and not have to inland. It saved about an hour or two.
Plus the ferry was wicked cool. Maybe it wouldn't be all that cool if you'd done it a bunch of times, or perhaps it wouldn't be that cool if you were on it and it crashed like in Grey's Anatomy, and you lost your face, and then got rejected by the jerky, but hunky doctor, but it was cool to me. The Shannon is a big river too. The trip was about 20 minutes across, and this morning was one of the first we experienced with any kind of weather. It was a little foggy and rainy, but not really very cold, so after the ferry took off, we were able to go up and take a look around as we crossed the river. Plus they had a snack bar.
After driving off the ferry, we took off up the coast towards the Cliffs of Moher, which was really our only destination of the day. We drove through a lot of small towns, and stopped a lot, and moved along, and repeated it, all going slowly up the coast and finally, started climbing a bit towards where the cliffs here. But the higher we climbed, the foggier it kept getting. And as we pulled in to the parking lot, the visibility dropped down to about 4-13 inches. Now, I'm not even going to begin to complain about the weather, because I still think we picked about the luckiest week in the history of Irish weather to travel, which you can see in the pictures, but this did kind of blow.
Why did it blow? Out of everything in the entire country, Lindsay really wanted to see the Cliffs? Was it because they were some of the highest sea cliffs in Europe? No, but it was used as the image for the Dread Pirate Roberts as he pursued Princess Buttercup in the Princess Bride. And therefore, it's very near where a Sicilian would have been messed with, as death was on the line.
That was the nerdiest thing I might have ever written, and I run a comic book website.
Anyway, I drove into the wrong entrance, and I pulled up to the gate for tour buses. They wouldn't let me in, justifiably, but she just told me that I was in the wrong place. But while she was telling me this, a bus pulled up behind me, pinning me against the gate. He got out, and came and told me that I was in the wrong place, but at the point, the lady on the intercom was non-receptive, so I held up a busload of people for a while. They eventually opened the gate, and my stupid foreigner time was over. I'd like to point out that the bus driver was the nicest person outside of the B&B owners we may have met the entire time in Ireland.
So the Cliffs...may well have been there. But we couldn't tell you because the fog didn't give much away. As you walked up and up, you ended up closer to the edge, and the only place you could see anything was just past a big sign that said, "DON'T GO PAST THIS POINT," which is where everyone went of course, because apparently, there's no security in Ireland. If you want to be a jackass, and fall off a 600 foot cliff, go nuts, because we warned you. Yeah, that's Lindsay's head right in the center above the sign. It took some convincing, but she went. So I went and peered down at the ocean, but I felt like I kind of missed the spectacle of the whole thing. There were huge numbers of people just staring out at grey nothing. And they were taking pictures. Well, so were we, but we were doing it ironically, so that's better.
Then, just as we were about to give up, the fog lifted, and pulled about 50 feet away from the cliffs for about 10 minutes. It was pretty nice, but we didn't get the big sea view. Also, at this point, people felt the need to start hopping the barricades, and trundling up to the sheer open cliff face to get a view. Some brought very small children. At least in America we have rules, and they're very often followed because of fears of the electric chair. Or so I'm lead to believe.
But, I can tell you that they have a very nice cafeteria at the Cliffs of Moher. I had an Irish Stew that was awesome. Much better than the canned crap from the first day in Dublin, and Lindsay had some other thing I don't remember, but I remember she liked it, and that's pretty notable.
The drive down from the cliffs was incredible. There were these sort of mountain switchback roads, and I think it's quite possible I nearly lost Lindsay to an early heart failure on that drive. I'll grant you, it was a bit narrow. It was raining a bit, and it was a bit hard to see, and finally, it was a bit scary. But it was a whole lot of fun as well. You could watch the video to hear Lindsay's terror, and my cackles of glee.
We took a littel detour at this point, because at the bottom on the hill, I turned left instead of right, and after about 40 minutes or so, I thought, "hey, is the ocean supposed to be on our right side?" It wasn't, and after talking to a tour bus driver and confirming our mistake, I turned around on a scary narrow seaside road and nearly grounded out the car on some immense looking rocks. We were trying to make it to a certain castle before they closed for the night, and we just about made it. Oh well, we got some nice pictures of the outside. I still haven't seen a sky that looked that good since I've been back, and I'm looking for it. No photoshop there. That's actually what color things were there. There was, that evening a medieval style banquet, but we actually didn't have te necessary formal wear to participate. That may not have been the reason, but it sounds good.
Now it was starting to get a bit later, and we had nowhere to stay, so we decided to make for Galway, which is apparently the coolest city on the west coast of Ireland. No, there's nothing terribly touristy or historic in Galway, but there are lots of young people, and a music scene, and good restaurants, and all that. We checked the book, and thought it might be a good night to get a hotel, so we found a place in the middle of the city, and like many of the other places we tried to find, we magically ended up in front of it. It's true. We just kept ending up in front of the place we were headed, over and over, without really trying. The whole place was a little creepy that way.
The Hotel Meyrick came highly recommended by our little book, which would explain why the price in real life was a great deal higher than what it said in the book. But what the hell, we were under budget for the day. The lobby was all black, and just about too cool for us. But then when we got to the room, we were brought a bit more down to earth. The sun was actually directly outside of the window, so the room was about 145 degrees farenheit. Or whatever that is in centigrade. Plus, it so happened that just outside this window was not a gorgeous view of the center of Galway City, but rather a busy bus terminal that operated all night. Lindsay's the tough one, so she got us a new room, which was slightly cooler, and a crappy view, but at least it didn't make any noise. Also, hotel rooms in Ireland don't come with air conditioning, which makes sense, because it's not hot that often there. But one some days, or any days we tried to get hotel rooms, it could have used it.
We got spruced up and went out to find some food. Only at this point, it was sunday night, and things close in Ireland on sunday night. So we did quite a large loop around Galway City, and finally we found a somewhat swanky hotel with a very nice restaurant, and we had a great dinner. For once, I don't remember exactly what we ate, but I remember they had great bread.
On the way back to the hotel, we found the lively part of the city with all the cool restaurants and people all over the place, but what are you gonna do?
Besides ask the locals or the hotel concierge I mean. But I think she was away from her post when we left the hotel, and my experience asking concierges for recommendations never really turned out that well.
There had been a great deal of driving and walking up to this point, so we decided to try and get some sleep, and turned in sort of early.
Besides, there was a breakfast in the hotel the next morning. Oh yes. All you can eat Irish breakfast buffet!
Tomorrow, we drive for about 40 minutes. Sweet.