The Wild West of Ireland
Recently on a Bank Holiday weekend, we decided that the Cliffs of Moher and the west of Ireland would be nice to visit. The Cliffs of Moher are one of the most famous tourist destinations in Ireland and Laurens had never seen them before. After some browsing we ended up at the Cliffs of Moher website, it mentioned visiting in the late afternoon because of the summer tourists. So we planned our trip around this. We left Saturday morning to drive towards Galway, a bit north from Moher.
We arrived in Galway at the beginning of the afternoon and checked in at our Airbnb room in a neighborhood called Salt Hill. As we had some time, we went towards the centre for lunch and a short walk. The weather in Galway alternated between sun and rain faster than we anticipated. So we enjoyed an ice cream at Murphy’s ice cream just before the storm. The city streets are lovely and atmospheric. After some walking around, it was time for lunch. A colleague of Sylwia recommended a place called The Pie Maker. Luckily they had a table free, so we sat down to enjoy a lovely pie.
We did not have too much time to explore, so we had a quick walk along the beach. From the Salt Hill Promenade, which runs from the city centre to Salt Hill, you have a great view over the Galway Bay. This boulevard is great for relaxation, observing people on the beach, waves hitting the coast and a great view on the other side of the bay. Be sure to take an umbrella though, as the weather can change any second.
Prior to going to Galway, we had made 2 reservations at local restaurants. Our first choice was the tapas restaurant Cava Bodega. Unfortunately, we received a call that they could not sit us at 20:00 so had to go sooner. To be sure we would have a seat for that evening, we also made a reservation at Kai. In the end, we decided to go to Cava Bodega and we do not regret that decision. It was very busy but amazingly cosy and atmospheric. They serve lovely food which tasted really good. We had the Basque style monkfish, Scallops, Connemara mountain lamb and pigs head fritter. The fish dishes were nice but not spectacular. The meat dishes, on the other hand, were very tasty and well prepared. After our meal, we headed towards one of the many pubs to enjoy a pint. Any of the pubs along Quay or High Street will do fine.
The Cliffs of Moher
These legendary cliffs are one of Ireland’s most visited locations and for good reason. The cliffs tower along the coast rising till about 210 meters above the sea. When visiting the cliffs, you have a good chance of rain. However, we were very lucky and received plenty of sunshine. You can hike from the visitor’s centre south along the cliff for about 5km, but be very careful as there are no railings. The scenery is spectacular and breath taking. Take your time so you can enjoy this incredible landscape. The visitor centre itself has a small shop and cafeteria and there is a small museum which is included in the parking ticket.
Aran Islands (Inis Oir)
Another must-see are the Aran Islands, which are just off the west coast of Ireland. You can get there by ferry from Doolin or Ros a’Mhil, close to Galway. We left in the morning from Ros a’Mhil and had to endure heavy seas. There Aran Islands consist of three islands: Inishmore, Inishmaan, and Inisheer. We went to the smallest island, Inisheer. The boat trip took about an hour and when we arrived it was about 15 degrees and windy. On the island, it is possible to rent a bicycle or take a tour on a horse cart. We decided to do some hiking, so we could test our new hiking sticks. We started by going towards the west side of the island where is quieter. It is incredible to absorb the area and atmosphere here.
Around lunch time we went to a local pub in the village. The 250 inhabitants of this island come here to hang out and talk (in Gaelic of course!). We had a typical Irish stew to regain our energy and continue hiking. The east side contains more sights like an ancient church, a castle, a stranded ship and a light tower. However, this island in small enough to visit all of these locations by foot in 1 day. The whole island gave us a kind of surreal feeling, being isolated from the mainland. It is an incredibly rugged island with beautiful scenery.
The west is a beautiful part of Ireland that speaks to the imagination. Unbelievable landscapes and great culture come together here. And if the weather allows it, it makes for a great holiday destination.
To see all of the pictures that we took during our trip, check out the photo album!
Stay tuned for more hiking posts soon.