We arrived in Galway mid-afternoon to the Oranmore Lodge Hotel, in a small village just outside of Galway. That evening we explored the small center of town, through the red, yellow and blue painted restaurants, hairdressers and banks. We drove to the semi-unused Oranmore Castle is perched on the rocky valley of seaweed that of the seacoast. During dinner at one of the local pubs, we had our first Guinness pints on draught. While I am hardly a regular drinker of Guinness, it really is better in Ireland.
The next morning we planned our route to the Cliffs of Moher, located about an hour’s drive from Oranmore, south along the coastline. Sheep farms, slate brick walls marking the borders of medieval properties, and angled green hills welcomed us to the area. The cliff side rises from the north, where a tiny village sits upon the seaside nearly at level with the water. Our car traced a few steep bends and then turned into the car park of the Visitor’s Center and path leading to the cliff side.
After parking and walking to the center, we made our way towards the cliffs. There’s one moment that occurs when the earth disappears and the ocean is suddenly hundreds of feet below the ground we were walking on. Dark rocks with streaks of angled layers are frosted with wild grass. Circling seagulls area small specks in comparison to the height of the cliffs. Strong winds ride from the Atlantic and through our layers of jackets, sweaters and scarves chilling our bones and daring our eyes to stay open without letting out a few relieving tears.
After we walked the pathways and viewed the cliffs from several angles, we visited the gift shop for some souvenirs and the cafe for a quick bite to eat. We returned to the hotel to rest up and watched a few of the Championship Soccer matches at the pub our hotel. We ate a meal from the kitchen in-house, and took an evening in after the long weeks and days of travel.
The following morning we checked out of our hotel and went into the city centre of Galway. We parked near the docks of the city and wandered into the Latin Quarter, equipped with local souvenir shops, clothing stores, cafes, pubs, and fresh-faced musicians playing for the ears of strangers in acoustic covers, traditional folk songs and classic rock songs.
The drive back towards Dublin was uneventful and we arrived at our final place of accommodation, the Central Hotel located in the heart of Dublin’s nightlife and shopping area, near the narrow one way lanes of Drury Street. We joined the Dubliners and had drinks and dinner at the pubs. Sitting on the east coast of Ireland, the city offers some amazing seafood, including the 2 dozen mussels in white wine sauce that I had as my last dinner abroad.
Our flight through AerLingus from Dublin to JFK, in New York City then onto Burlington, Vermont left at 4 pm the following day. After 17 hours of travel, we finally arrived in Burlington to -16 degrees Fahrenheit and several feet of snow on the ground, none of which we had seen since the previous year. That night we stayed with my family at the Smuggler’s Notch resort in Jericho, Vermont. The next day we spent with grandparents playing card and board games and relaxing from the previous day’s travel. We spent that evening at a local bar called Brewster’s for our first American meal.
For now we are seeing good friends and family and prepping for the cross country road trip from Vermont to California. In the meantime, you can check out some of our photos here, using the passcode europe2015.