First off, bear with me, our internet here is super slow so this post was actually supposed to be put up on Sunday – I’ll try to update as often as I can but they may be slightly delayed depending onthe daily speed of the internet.
Yesterday marked the beginning of our 3 week adventure for Josh’s VistaBreak. We headed out of Barcelona around 8AM for our 10:30 flight and overall, the flight was uneventful and blissfully short (as compared to our recent trans-Atlantic flights home). We landed in Dublin and headed for the car rental place.
I will admit, I’ve been very ambivlent about the driving here in Ireland. I don’t drive stick (don’t drive it well at least) which meant relying on Josh to do all the driving. That’s not to say that he’s not a good driver but as you saw in my blog entries about France and Italy with Michelle, I’m quite the backseat driver and that’s on the “right” side of the road. Here in Ireland they drive on the “wrong” side which has given me several nightmares before we even left Barcelona!
Thankfully Liam got sick (first time I’ve ever said that!). Never been so thankful for that one. But he was puking as Josh was searching for the highway so I couldn’t focus on him driving on the wrong side of the road. Once we were safely on the highway everything was fine (with the exception of him constantly wandering into the next lane – which of course I had to constantly remind him of…I’m sure he was thrilled :)).
I’ve heard about the landscape here and of course, I’ve seen pictures. But nothing prepared me for the beauty of it when we actually got here. It’s my understanding that the highways are relatively new – when Josh was here a little over 10 years ago he says they weren’t there but when he got here in July for his cousin’s wedding he noticed them right away. So most of our journey was via highway (thank goodness) and all along the highway was fields and fields of lush green farmland with more cows, sheep and horses than I think I’ve seen in my entire life. Sadly I couldn’t get any photos (or any good ones) as we were driving. But just know, it’s beautiful!
Around Galway we got off the highway and started to take the MUCH more narrow windy roads along the coastal road around Galway Bay. The home we rented was more on the underside of Galway Bay in a town called Fanore, in northwest County Clare. Fanore is in the Burren, an area that is famous for it’s karst landscape. It has both the Atlantic (oh how I’ve missed you!) and Galway Bay surrounding it. According to wikipedia “The rolling hills of Burren are composed of limestone pavements with crisscrossing cracks known as “grikes”, leaving isolated rocks called “clints”. The region supports arctic, Mediterranean and alpine plants side-by-side, due to the unusual environment. Burren’s many limestone cliffs, particularly the sea-cliffs at Ailladie, are popular with rock-climbers. For cavers, there are a number of charted caves in the area, notably Pollnagollum.”
We stopped along the way to Fanore for some lunch. By now it was about 3:30 and we were all starving but unfortunately it was between lunch and dinner so not many places were open. We ended up at Supermac’s, the McDonalds of Ireland… They claim to be 100% Irish but the Supermac’s have a Papa John’s in them which I recall is an American company. But then, I could be wrong on it’s origins. Anyways, it wasn’t by any chance our ideal but it filled our cranky, hungry bellies and we were back along the way to Fanore.
We finally got to our place in Fanore after going along the coastal road for quite a while. The vistas along the coastal road were absolutely stunning but unfortunately I was on the wrong side of the car to get any good shots. And Josh wasn’t really willing to stop along the way (and on many of the roads you couldn’t for fear of being in an accident!) other than at a castle along the way so I could at least get a picture of that on Galway Bay!
We were slightly further inland that Josh thought we were going to be (about 1 mile) but we are surrounded by mountains and limestone and horses and cows. There are horses that come within maybe 50 feet of the back of our house. Liam and Aidan LOVE that part! The house itself is gorgeous! Relatively non descript on the outside, the inside is just beautiful. The house is only 2 years old and you can tell the owners have put a lot of effort and love into this house. It’s one floor living but it feels infinitely bigger than our 2 floor apartment in Barcelona (and I would say is probably at least 200-300 sq ft bigger in actuality).
And I have to say that the people who own this house are about the lovliest people I have ever met. I’ve heard about Irish hospitality but they go above and beyond. Not only was the house immaculate but they left us a ton of information about the area, a bottle of wine, some butter, milk and bread as well as a US/Ireland transformer plug for our electronics. And when we couldn’t figure out how to lock the front door (and yes it was that tricky!), they drove down the 40 minutes from their house to show us how to do it. They also made a separate trip the next day to bring me a hairdryer that I had forgotten in Barcelona. Seriously, the nicest people! Brendan is from Buffalo, NY but his wife, Rita is from here. Their daughter was born in the US and is a very proud US citizen and didn’t like that I said she has a tiny Irish accent now and their son was born here. They are just the sweetest people and I would love to come back here and spend time with them some day!
Josh ventured out to find a grocery store and our little town has just one small tiny grocery store along with a post office and a pub. Today we will attempt to find a larger grocery store in the next town over as Josh spent 80 euros on about 5 things at the little one!
We decided to go to the one pub in town for dinner. It was very casual and more open than I expected. The food was excellent though – Josh had a fish chowder (which Aidan then needed a bowl of as well) and Liam had pizza. I had a goat cheese wonton salad that was fabulous. There was a pool table in the room we were in and Aidan was fascinated by it and hadn’t played before. So we decided to teach him. Not sure if it is the tables in Ireland or just this particular one but Josh went to break not once but twice and the cue ball flew off the table – he claims that the balls are MUCH lighter here than in the States!! Regardless, Aidan threw a tantrum or two in the process which was annoying but in the end he got in to it and enjoyed it. I did not enjoy the part where Liam told me that he put a toy in one of the pockets which I could not find… ahh well, so begins our adventures, right?