Friday, July 26, 2013

The Burren

Happy Friday and welcome to the second to last (maybe?) installment of the Grand Ireland trip of 2013. Other installments can be found below.


Now I didn't actually realize that I have already written t-e-n (10?!) posts about Ireland until I just linked to them all, but what can you do? 


The Burren (which means "rocky place") is a strange but wonderful part of Ireland located in County Clare and really close to the Cliffs of Moher. The ground is all rock. No wonder that everything in this area is built of stone. Those lumps under the grass where the cows are grazing? Rock. The ground is literally all rock.

We started out our Burren adventure by stopping at Leamaneh Castle which is just a big 15th century shell that, unfortunately, is closed to pretty much everybody. But it's pretty from the road.

Then we made a short stop at the Caherconnell Ring Fort. There are ring forts all over the Burren (and all over Ireland) which were used by the Celts in the early medieval times as places of shelter for themselves and their livestock. But not like a fort for war. Due to our untimely arrival at about 7:00, it was closed. So I couldn't get a very good picture of it. But seriously, look at the lighting. I would sacrifice entrance for this lighting any day. The actual fort is behind the cows and the other pictures are the walls around it.

The main attraction of the Burren (at least to meep) is the Poulnabrone Dolmen or the "druid's altar" as it was called 200 years ago. It is actually a portal tomb, not an altar, despite its tricky appearance. The top slab is about 12 feet long and the supporting stones are about 6 feet high which is not apparent even when you are standing outside the rope barricade. I didn't actually know how high it was until I looked it up. It used to be the entrance for a tomb chamber. We decided to see this late (around 7:30 pm) so that we would have it all to ourselves and we surely did succeed in this endeavor.

These are maybe my favorite pictures from our whole trip. 

But I say that all the time.

And this was the view from our hotel room. I'm pretty sure that the very furthest away cliffs are the Cliffs of Moher, but I'm not actually positive. But we'll say they are.

And now for a sad story that involves me missing dinner because not even the hotel restaurant was serving anything but alcohol.

While living in the UK, I have been introduced to several new cultural norms, one of which being that if you want to eat late at night (or past 9 pm..) you basically have two options: Chinese takeaway or some type of kebab house. It turns out that Ireland is no different in this respect, but even after two years I sometimes forget that food is not always available at all hours of the night (again, after 9:00) and pubs stop serving food at around 5-6:00, a time which I have mistakenly always associated with dinnertime? Seeing as how the town we stayed in was mostly a seasonal beach town and everything basically shuts down at 8:00, there was only the one option: a Chinese takeaway. And it was expensive.

I don't know about you, but sometimes when I haven't eaten for several hours or forgetfully skip a meal, I start to feel sick if I don't eat something right away. This was one of those times. We had been rushing around all day to see everything and also to get back to before the hotel pool closed and somehow we missed at least one meal and I was feeling more than a little hungry and sickish.

Now this is one of those general sweeping statements, but in my experience, UK Chinese food is extremely greasy (also true for Ireland) and generally doesn't sit well in a queasy stomach. Forrest (of course) ordered his takeaway and joyfully scarfed it down but I could barely bring myself to smell, much less consume, the greasiness that was the sweet and sour chicken. Luckily, we had some snacks in the car that we bought earlier in the day.

So I had grapes for dinner at 11:00. The end.

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