Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The updating continues...

Ok, so I left off with me heading to Tralee last Saturday. I got in there in the evening, and learned from people staying at my hostel that there was a festival of Irish dancing called Shindig on for the weekend. A bunch of Irish people told me where a ceilidh was going on that night and I headed there with some German and French folks. There was a live band and some stepdancers at first, and then it moved into a hotel ballroom and people were doing set dancing, which is the same premise as square dancing and probably where American square dancing originated from. It was pretty cool to watch a whole room full of people tapping and swirling around in sync, and I got pulled through a few sets with the help of an Irish fellow from my hostel and managed to stay on my feet.

On Sunday I decided to go to one of the stepdancing workshops that was being offered with two of the people I had met the evening before, Caroline and Michael, who are German students working as teaching assistants in county Clare. Since I had missed the first day's workshop I had to do some catching up and so was a bit behind the other people in the class but I did achieve some competent-enough steps.

Caroline and Michael were then heading back up to Clare (Tralee is in Kerry county, by the way) and since the weather wasn't too good for going out to see the Dingle peninsula (rainy and windy) I decided to accept their invitation of a drive north and a free night or two of accomodation. We took a coastal route for the scenery and then a ferry from Tarbert to Killrush, and there went to Ennis, the largest town in Clare, where Caroline lives. I spent Sunday night at her place and the next day we poked around Ennis togther. I liked Ennis for what I saw of it - it's nothing special in terms of sightseeing towns, but it's a good size and was pleasant looking and full of friendly, helpful people.

Monday afternoon I took the bus westward and Michael, who lives in Lisdoonvarna, picked me up and we drove out to the Cliffs of Moher. We went to the spot that locals tend to go to, as opposed to the viewing point designated for tourists, and so our trip out to view the cliffs involved scaling several fences labelling with signs telling us not to trespass. It was a really good day to view the cliffs (pictures of everything will follow when I get back to Scotland) as it was sunny, however it was quite cold due to the wind at the shore, but you can't go to the shore and not expect wind.

The cliffs themselves...

It's still really me that's posting. Here's a "vanity" photo to show it, and that I'm very cold.

An old tower that was at the clifftop - this is an example of the towers that I mentioned that are everywhere in Ireland - in towns, in fields, and on the coast.
Monday evening I spent at Michael's place, having supper, using the internet (that was my last post) and having a great discussion about the English and German language. I had a great time hanging out with Michael and Caroline and I'm glad I met them and hope to run into them again in the future.

From Lisdoonvarna I took the bus northward toward Ballyvaughan which is smack-dab in the middle of the Burren, a rocky limestone area. The bus took the coast road which meant another good drive full of views (as have all my bus rides over here been). It was also on another narrow, winding road, on which drivers really seem to depend on their brakes more than I would if I were driving. I don't know if it's just Ireland or if it's my age or something but I find I start to feel slightly ill if I do not look out the window at where the bus is travelling when it's driving over winding roads like that. I used to be able to read in cars but can't do that anymore.

I got into Ballyvaughan around 10ish, and walked south of town a few kilometres to take in the scenery and get to Aillwee Cave, a limestone cave open for touring. And so I finally saw in person the subjects of my grade 6 science project - limestone stalactites and stalagmites and their ilk.

The Burren means something like "rocky land", so aptly named it is:

I had to catch the bus to Galway at 2:25pm (buses are infrequent around here and depend on what day of the week it is as well) so it was back to town after a bit and off to Galway, where I am now. I just spent the evening chilling out watching some TV (I don't get that too often given where I work), getting acquainted with a soap/comedy from Manchester called Shameless. I've spent this morning checking out the town and will get back to that shortly.

I'm doing this photo large just so you can see the details better - this is a typical roadside hedge. Check out all those plants - every one of them has some sort of thorn on it!


Anonymous said...

Hi Megan
Souinds like your having a great time. I'm in Ottawa today, I came up on Thursday for the weekend. Sarah, Robyn and I are touring the malls. Its cold -24 yesterday and not much more today. Got your card and thanks for the Birthday wishes. Wyatt is holding down the bakery for me while i am away. Great to have him around. Well keep travelling and enjoy. I will email you later when i get home.
Love Margie

Anonymous said...

Hey Megan,
It's me Sarah. Hope all is well and i will write more later....just showing Mom something on the site.

talk soon,