I woke up this morning at 5AM to do some packing before heading to the train station for my Ireland Railtours trip. I caught a taxi at 6:30 AM, giving me plenty of time to get to Euston Train Station, just 10 minutes away, for my 7:00 AM departure. If only my taxi driver could hear. Because I don't think Euston sounds anything like Connoly. Do you? Right.
I arrive at Connoly station and as I'm about to get out of the taxi, I ask, "This is Euston station?"
"Oh, Euston station! I thought you said Connoly station. Of course, you wouldn't want Connoly station. You would want Euston station!"
I pleaded with him to drive quickly, as my train was going to depart in 20 minutes, and Euston station was about 15 minutes from where we ended up. But alas, I arrived at the station just as my train was departing. 109 Euros down the drain...
But I'm not afraid of independent traveling. Hell, I embrace independent traveling. It was only until this trip to Ireland that I considered taking a tour, mostly because the things I wanted to see were outside of Dublin and I don't *really* know my way around Ireland. So I purchased a ticket to Galway directly, hoping that once I arrived, I'd be able to catch a bus to Cliffs of Moher.
Roundtrip ticket from Dublin - Galway, 30 Euro. Lovely!
It was rainy and chilly on the train, but they served coffee and I was prepared with reading material. I read, snoozed, and took pictures out the window at the green, green, green pastures along which horses, cows, sheaps, donkeys, and goats grazed. But I wasn't all that impressed with the Irish countryside. Yet.
Once in Galway, I found some advertisements for day tours to points of interest along the coast, and sure enough, Cliffs of Moher. Roundtrip ticket on the public bus, 20 Euro. Brilliant! What a fool I was to think I needed to take a freaking tour. I had about a half hour to spare before the bus would depart, so I grabbed some more coffee and tried to wander around Galway a bit. But it was rainy and I wasn't in the mood to deal with it, so I sat at the bus stop waiting for my next departure.
The bus was nicer than I imagined it would be. I took a seat towards the front and had a perfect view of the scenery to come. The rain wore off, the sun actually came out, and the Irish countryside really was splendid. With the ocean in the not too far distant, the small houses, stone fences, and rolling green were beautiful. If only I could have gotten out a bit more to take some good pictures! But, taking snapshots through glass got me across the US back when I made the Cross Country Trek to San Francisco, so I think I'll be able to salvage a few good pictures.
I didn't get to see Limerick, River Shannon, or Bunratty Castle. The trip I ended up taking only covered part of what the tour covered, and it did so in reverse fashion. At one point, I actually saw the coach for Ireland Railtours drive by. But I did ride through the Burren and along Galway Bay prior to reaching the Cliffs of Moher. Lots of small towns with of course, many pubs, and even some bed and breakfasts that seemed to be very relaxing.
The Cliffs themselves are beautiful. Reminded me a lot of Northern California, actually. Only with more green and a little less sun. I was able to get some good pictures, and even met some Americans who were in Ireland on a golfiing trip. (Note to Dad: Golf in Ireland and bring Mom!) I was only there for an hour, because there isn't a whole lot else to do. But all in all, it was worth the 10 hour round trip. And I will keep telling myself that!
We made it back to Galway around 3PM, which gave me some time to wander around more. I found my way to Quay street, lined with pubs and shops and did a little shopping damage. I had a Guinness and some soup and chips, then headed back to the train station to come back to Dublin. Everyone says Galway is a great city for going out at night, but I unfortunately didn't have enough time for that. My flight leaves tomorrow at 6:45 AM!
So lessons learned for Nic: organized tours are not for me. Too expensive and too inflexible. I have learned from LEFS that I don't need to spend a lot of money while traveling to have a good time. And I have learned from my own experience that things never go the way you envision they will while in another country. Sooner or later (I'm hoping later because I am really tired of flying to Europe!) I'll be back in Ireland; and now that I've been here once, I have a better idea of what I want to do next time.
Over and out from Dublin... Cheers!
|2008.08.30 - Galway and Cliffs of Moher|