Joined December 2021 Message
  • Day6

    Trinity College Library

    April 16 in Ireland ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    After our day tour, we had a light dinner in the Jungle Cafe and took a direct bus back to Dublin. We sleept in on Saturday morning, and headed to our last highlight of the trip that very afternoon: The Trinity College library with the Book of Kells, considered the pinnacle of manuscript illumination and western calligraphy, as well as the Long Room.

    Even though the Long Room was full of people, it enraptured me as soon as I stepped foot in it, with it's long rows of bookshelves, busts of poets, philosophers and literary heroes and that smell of old books. Also, at the end, I was surprised to find the Brian Boru harp on display. This is one of three surviving medieval harps of the region and is featured in the coat of arms of Ireland.
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  • Day5

    The Burren

    April 15 in Ireland ⋅ ⛅ 12 °C

    We returned to the bus with our phones' and cameras' storage space significantly reduced and started our drive back to Galway, via the village of Doolin. As we crossed the Burren, we stopped to briefly explore the lunar-like landscape of cracked stone and isolated patches of green. It is here that you can find over 70% of Ireland's flora, with Arctic, Alpine and Mediterranean plants growing alongside each other.

    Plant life mostly populates the cracks of the limestone ground. Cows and sheep can not only survive for months at a time in the barren-looking landscape but truly thrive.

    As we meandered along the coast back to Galway Bay, we made another, last stop at Dunguaire Castle, now mostly surrounded by water as the tide had come in.
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  • Day5

    The fog lifted!

    April 15 in Ireland ⋅ ⛅ 11 °C

    As we stared out to the white void, the wind turned and... was that a silhouette we started to make out? Yes it was! We started taking pictures as we had no way of knowing if that would be the only glimpse we'd get. As we continued walking, leaving the visitor center and continuing on the cliff path, the fog eventually dissipated completely giving way to spectacular views of the cliffs. Gerard's optimism and flexible itinerary had paid out!Read more

  • Day5

    Cliffs of Moher

    April 15 in Ireland ⋅ ☁️ 10 °C

    When we arrived at the Cliffs of Moher, things were looking bad. The fog was so thick we only had a few meters of visibility. Gerard, now much less optimistic, still thought we might get lucky and proposed we cancel the lunch stop, have something to eat at the visitor center instead and stay an extra hour to increase our chances of the day clearing up.

    Everyone agreed to the idea, got off the bus and we found our way to the visitor center to have an early lunch before venturing out to the cliffs themselves.

    The grass abruptly ended in a white wall of fog so thick you could've almost cut it with a knife. It is easy to imagine how someone could just walk straight off the edge to their deaths 140-200m further down on such a day if it wasn't for the barrier that kept people back.

    In the distance, we could barely make out the shape of O'Brien's tower near the midpoint of the cliffs, so we directed our steps there, photographing the little we could see.
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  • Day5

    A foggy day

    April 15 in Ireland ⋅ 🌧 10 °C

    Today we went on the day tour we had most been looking forward to: the Cliffs of Moher UNESCO world heritage site. But as we boarded the bus in the morning, the weather wasn't looking good at all. Our bus driver, Gerard, was optimistic that it would clear up by the time we reached the visitor center.

    The route took us through the Burren lowlands past ruins of castles, tower houses and stone cottages. The ocean had receded leaving long stretches of muddy seabed behind. We passed Kilcolgan, known for it's world-class oysters and Lisdoonvarna, where they hold a full-month matchmaking festival in September. We were told if you are single, this is the place to be. "Once you've found your match", our bus driver advised, "you should go back to Kilcolgan for some oysters and champagne. But beware: this combination could leave you feeling rather amorous."

    Driving up corkscrew hill, the fog got thicker and thicker. Gerard now sounded less sure, especially as we couldn't enjoy the view of Galway Bay once we had reached the top, but was still optimistic it would clear up by the time we reached our destination. We were hopeful, too.
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  • Day4

    Youthful, vibrant Galway

    April 14 in Ireland ⋅ ☁️ 14 °C

    By the time we got settled into our hostel room and took off to get lunch/dinner, the rain stopped and we had a pleasant walk across Galway's Latin Quarter and West End to our restaurant. Galway is a small university town with just under 80k inhabitants (so it's about the size of Bamberg) with many good places to eat and go out. It is also crisscrossed by the Corrib river, giving it a very maritime feel even if you're not directly at the coastline. I immediately took a liking to it.

    We had fish & chips and a Hooker IPA at 'Hooked'. The beer was named not after a certain profession, but after a type of fishing boat. After dinner, a mini-pub crawl gave us a small taste of Galway nightlife. We didn't have a drink at every pub, mostly we just looked around. But the ones I liked best were:

    The King's Head - pub and bistro with a medieval castle atmosphere (we also spotted a guy who could have easily been cast for Vikings).

    Tigh Neachtrain - Quirky pub with lots of books and paintings on the wall as well as spying bunny up on the corner

    The Crane Bar - A traditional style pub that is popular among Irish musicians and has traditional live music on the second floor.
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  • Day4

    The phantom bus

    April 14 in Ireland ⋅ ☁️ 9 °C

    Ok - so when we plan how to get from A to B we usually resort to Google Maps, Rome2Rio and the local bus companies. This time, however, the information we got seemed to have been faulty.

    We had planned to get on the 7.30 bus to Limerick and from there continue straight on to Galway, where we'd arrive at about eleven-ish, giving us enough time to check into our next hostel, grab a quick lunch and go to Kylemore Abbey.

    We checked the bus stop and schedule on the bus company's website and made an untypically disciplined effort to be there on time. Only that there was no bus stop and there was no bus. We tried a different bus stop we found on the website but again, no luck.

    The only option we had was to take a local bus, which would take much longer (5-6h vs 3-4) and did not leave until two hours later. Disappointed and tired, we sat down in the nearest cafe to at least have some breakfast. The scones and warm Irish tea definitely lifted my spirits a bit before we hopped onto the 'Expressway' bus. Quite a deceiving name...
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  • Day3

    A word about Killarney town

    April 13 in Ireland ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

    We didn't take that many pictures of the town of Killarney itself, but it is well worth losing a few words about it.

    Killarney is a polished small town, tidy and well-kept in contrast to the urban grittiness we had seen both in Dublin and in Cork. One of the first things I noticed was the many four and five star hotels. It seems that it is the base camp not only of backpackers and young adventurers but also a popular vacation destination of the wealthy. Nevertheless, restaurants and pubs were not horribly expensive but very down-to-earth (price of a pint: €4.50 vs €7 in Dublin). It is here that we noticed the first defibrillator booth - something we had never seen before and photographed in touristy wonder.

    We stayed at the Black Sheep Hostel and it is one of the best I've seen. The entire place is pleasantly designed, the vibe was good and they are eco-friendly. We spent the first night in a dorm and the second in the apartment - which only cost us €10 more per person and turned out to be an entire cottage in the organic garden! Apart from the video clip of the shared bathroom in the dorm area, I didn't find the time to take some pictures, so I'm sharing some of the website...
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  • Day3

    Torc Waterfall

    April 13 in Ireland ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    In the park itself, green started to dominate the scene again as we approached Torc Waterfall following a narrow mountain road with numerous, very tight curves - where the speed limit was set to suicidal 100km/h.

    Killarney park, home to the highest mountain of Ireland Carrauntoohil (1039m), is an outdoor lover's paradise: plenty of lakes to paddle on, hiking trails (for example across the Gap of Dunloe), cycling routes, mountain climbing, etc. But apparently you can also enjoy it from a horse carriage, as I was surprised to learn as such a vehicle rushed past me when I was trying to get a closer look at one of the yellow-blooming bushes I had noticed during the entire tour.

    After making our last stop at the waterfall, which was a short walk from the main road, we closed the circle and returned to Killarney.
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  • Day3

    Coming 'round the south...

    April 13 in Ireland ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    ... the landscape is in stark contrast to the rich, green pastures on the other side of the mountain range. The hills are covered in dry, yellow grass strewn with boulders and rocks of varying sizes.
    We crossed the Black Valley and reentered the national park, where deep blue lakes complemented the rather sun struck palette beautifully.
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