It rains in Ireland. It rains in Ireland a lot. Yesterday we completed our ‘bike tour’ near Conmera National Park in Galway County. The route for the first day took us from a small town called Leenane down to the national park and up to an even smaller town called Tulley Cross. Yesterdays route took us along the coast back to Leenane. The people we rented the bikes from told me that the route was rather flat but their definition of flat and mine are two very different things. Rolling hills and strong head winds would have been a much better description! The entire ride was just under 40 miles, so I figured Hailey would be okay doing that over two days (and though I hadn’t ridden in a month or so, I figured riding with an extra 30 lbs of luggage in our side panels, I’d be okay). Hailey’s legs are in a good amount of pain (grand idea of vacation huh?) and our faces are super wind burnt, but we survived and had a great experience.
We woke up yesterday to howling winds beating on the windows of our room at the bed and breakfast. When we walked out of our rooms for breakfast (eggs and toast, we’ve stayed away from ‘black budding’) we realized what exactly we would be riding in. Pouring, wet and super windy. Hailey met a couple from Philly and when they saw us struggling up our first climb they pulled over, threw our bikes in the back of their rented land rover and drove us to the top of the hill. Once we got to the top, the rest of the ride was gold. And by gold I mean the kind of thing that we will love to get out and tell stories about someday, but like an antique piece of jewlery are plenty fine keeping it stored away for now. It was cold (and did I mention wet and windy?). Everything we had was soaked. The camera, phone and ipod (which has my other blog posts on it–and still doesnt work) frozen and wet. We were told that the sheep dont mind the rain so I guess it should have been a sign to us that even the sheep sought shelter from this storm. We were the only people we saw on bikes yesterday, and they knew we were crazy. Still the scenery was breathtaking. Riding along lush cliffs, seeing the atlantic bellow was truly a treat. When we arrived at the bike rental shop we went upstairs and got coffee, thawed out and waited for our other backpack to arrive so we could change.
Last night we spent the night in the city of Galway. We had to stay a bit outside of town because there are giant horse races here once a year, and they happen to be this week. The town is crazy busy. Our bus dropped us off near the city centre and we had about a mile and a half walk to our hotel. After maybe three minutes it started pouring again. But this time, instead of cycling clothes and just some of the essentials atleast we were in jeans and with all of our luggage. Hotel, finally, more thawing.
The weather cleared, we walked back to the city for dinner and had a wonderful evening. The main walking street in Galway is a blast. In Eyre Square radio staions were set up to announce the races and every ‘sports shop’ was advertising that their bookies gave the best rate. Truly a fascinating sight. A street performer blew fire from his mouth while his friend played a djembe and of course the guinness was plentiful. What has shocked me most about the pub scene so far has been the annoying prevelance of crapy american beer and the desire of so many people to drink it. At dinner last night people drank Corona, Miller and Coor’s Light. I wanted to scream, then I saw the Bud Light patch on our servers shirt. Really?
Today we will walk down to a Saturday market down at the St. Claus church before getting our car and driving to the Cliff’s of Mohr, exploring a bit and then heading to Limrick for the night. We are tired, but doing well and are eager for what today will bring.