My I slept marvelously in my fancy Bunrattey Castle Hotel room! The self-serve breakfast spread they put on was top notch! I love that cooked mushrooms and tomatoes are always available. The local sausage and bacon were so tasted as well! My new friend from the medieval feast came in and joined me and had an excellent chat about our families.
When I was dropped off at the hotel the day before my bus driver told me that I would be picked up by a new tour bus I'd be joining right there, in front of the hotel at 9:30 am. Then we would all drive together down the lane to the Bunratty Folk Park.
So that's what I did and where I waited.
But by 9:30 with no bus in sight I grew a little worried. I pulled out the paper itinerary that came with my package and voila, it said I should meet my bus in front of the Folk Park by 9:30 so we could all go into the park together.
Aw man! So I took off down the lane, my trusty new suitcase following along and by the time I reached the folk park entrance I saw the bright yellow bus that would be my ride but no people in sight.
Thankfully the staff inside the park held my suitcase and radioed ahead to get my guide to come meet me. The group he had brought was already in the middle of touring the big castle, and since I had already seen it the night before I headed into the rest of the park with a map and clear instructions on what time to meet back at the bus.
At first I was a little disappointed by the park. I followed one side of the trail looking at empty stone and thatched cottages, a non-working old mill and a stone sty with two little sleeping pigs. Nothing seems special or interesting. There were no boards explaining what anything was or he history behind it.
Even the middle section with a quoting little town was underwhelming with mostly touristy knockoffs filling the shelfs.
I did grab a simple chocolate ice cream cone at the sweet shoppe and continued to the next section.
Finally I found the few cottages that held a staff member, clad in traditional garb, and decked out as if they were actual working homes from the 1800s Ireland. The staff would explain all about the house, the types I cops gathered, the tools and the way of life.
I also love the bakers cottage where two older ladies, again dressed in old frocks and bonnets, were making scones from scratch and explaining all about the process and the simple cooking tools they would use. One lady was quite cheeky and teased any young people seeing if they could guess what each tool was used for. The baking they prepared all went to good use and was served and sold in the working tea rooms on site. We got to try a taste of a raisin scone with butter and it was delish!!
I met my new guide and found a seat on our big air conditioned coach with about 25 people and we headed off to the town of Doolin for lunch and the Cliffs of Moher!!
After a crazy winding bus drive through the hilly countryside we had lunch in Doolin. A little tiny town made up of a single stop of about a dozen tiny connected store fronts and one place that everyone eats at, O'Connor's pub. I had the seafood chowder, thick and creamy with lots of fish and seafood. And two big warm slabs of brown bread and butter. They served us like a well oiled machine. I ate sitting up at the bar with a few others since all the tables were filled. I browsed the shops. Most shops in Ireland so far all have the same touristy nick knacks. But I bought some local fudge to take with me for a snack and a water and juice. I'm not buying much unless it catches my eye and it just what I want. Back into the bus and onto the Cliffs, one of the sights I was most eager to see.
Oh and twice on the bus ride we had to stop and either back up or let someone else back up because the lane was so narrow!! Once it was four farm tractors and vehicle and we just nearly squeaked by. Seriously like and inch or two between us!! Crazy!
Right now I'm standing on a cliff 700 feet directly above the ocean! (Behind a barrier, don't worry!) It's magnificent!!!
I am facinated at the huge stone slate sheets that are used in the area instead of usual fencing. They are about an inch thick and probably four feet above the ground with a few feet buried under ground.
I didn't go past where the stone barriers ended but lots of people were!! I think it's stupid! One wrong move and you're a goner!
Back onto the bus. There is an amazing visitors centre here that is set into the hillside like a dome under the rock. Or a huge Hobbits house! Very cool. I hiked up and down the hills along the cliffs and now I fear my little feet are crying for a rest.
I've been looking at a few little jewelry things and bought a pretty Celtic knot necklace and a neat leather bracelet. Now for another crazy bus ride down the narrow lanes! And when I say narrow, I mean it looks like two lanes barely fit and most of the time there is no shoulder and stone walls right on either side!!! Makes for an exciting trip through the pretty but slightly monotonous farmscape. :)
Now I'm standing on the crazy lunar-like landscape of the Burren. It comes out of nowhere after driving through green hills and pastures. It's like a mountain decided the crumble and die here. The grey stone heaves up from the earth like a disease where at first glance it looks like nothing green can grow. However this area is highly prized as it hold hundreds of species of plant life that grow nowhere else!! It's sort of like an arctic tundra landscape. There are gorgeous tiny yellow and purple flowers growing between the crusty rocks. Amazing!
On the bus I'm sitting in among a Spanish family from Chile. Grandma, Mom, Dad, daughter and son (who is a little person). Grandma offered me a sweet roll/cake. They are very, very nice and friendly. But talk a lot and loudly!
We have a 2 hour drive to Galway. Then 2 hour train ride back to Dublin
We were dropped off at the train station in Galway. We only had about 35 min and I had my suitcase with me so I jaunted up one block to a corner store to grab some food where our guide recommended since it was so close. (Our train doesn't have meal service, just snacks.) But everyone else got there before me! They make custom sandwiches but the line was so long so I just grabbed a pop and chips. My first junk food of the trip so far. I also have some homemade chocolate-caramel fudge to snack on. I headed back to the train station waiting room where I can get the trains free wifi.
Our tour has an entire train car reserved and I snagged a choice seat with a table at the front. Facing front. Charging my phone and connecting to wifi. Loverly!!!
I had rented an apartment in Dublin or the next two nights via AirB&B and the owner arranged to have a friend meet me to give the the keys. The flat was small but clean and stocked with all the basics. It had great wifi and privacy. (Though I didn't know it was a three story walk-up!)
Stay tuned for Day 3 soon!!
Catch up on ALL my posts of my awesome #kbintheuk trip: