Doolin, a tiny town in County Clare, was our lunch stop while on the bus tour.
Back up a few hours, and we boarded this lovely bus tour in Galway, after a restful stay at Betty’s B&B. We continued to have sunny days during our time in Ireland (I know, we were told this was unusual. But it was pretty perfect for almost the whole time) and the scenery was lovely. All was well. Except that bus drivers are very confident on the roads in Ireland, and avoid the brakes where possible, including on all curves or turns in the road. Good for getting where you need to be. Bad if you get car sick. Or bus sick. Whatever.
I do not get bus sick, so I very much enjoyed the views from the bus window, and the entertaining commentary from the tour guide. Rachel definitely does get bus sick, and was not loving any part of this excursion.
Although a little more expensive than we would have liked, packaged bus tours like the one we were on took us on back roads to four major highlight destinations, and a lunch stop. For us, it was worth it, and we were even able to book our tour through Betty, though it can also be done at many hostels and at any tourist information office.
Our tour guide was super informative, and was also a big believer in fairies, and all things magical. Ireland is filled with magical corners, both in scenery, and in fairy habitats. Our bus dropped us all off on the side of a dirt road by a cemetery to explore a fairy ring, and to hear the accompanying tales of what kind of tree makes a good place for a fairy circle, and what kinds of items people bring to the tree to try to appease the fairies. It was quite a little place, and even if everyone in our group wasn’t really believing this fairy story, the sense of Irish tradition we got was worth the stop.
Next stop was The Burren. We aren’t big geology buffs, but the flat limestone rocks stretching as far as we could see were very cool. If rocks are your thing, this is a must see.
For us, probably not a highlight. The grey clouds overhead were closing in however, and our visit was cut short by the impending storm.
As we escaped the rain, our bus took us into the sunshine to the remains of an abbey and a small graveyard. There are numerous abbeys and other assorted building remains scattered all over Ireland, so unless this is your thing, any one will do to give you the idea. The sun was still shining though, and even without the roof, the stone structures left standing after hundreds of years were impressive.
By this point, Rachel was good and nauseous. Snacks are a must on these tours, as one is never quite sure where the next stop might be. Fortunately, it was only far enough to feel ill, and our arrival in Doolin, in County Clare was appreciated. Located on the Wild Atlantic Way, Doolin is a tiny strip of a village, known by some as the traditional centre of Irish music. We had managed to avoid the rain, the sun was warm, the town was picturesque, and we were encouraged to grab a bite of lunch during our hour-long stopover.
While the majority of our fellow tour-goers piled into a traditional looking pub near the bus, we ventured farther afield (not that anything in Doolin is particularly far) to a cafe-tourist shop-ice cream parlour that was advertising a simple bowl of soup and coffee or tea for less than 6 euro. A steal, by Ireland standards. The lovely Irish women served up two steaming bowls of creamy, vegetarian, ministrone-ish soup, with a massive fresh bread roll on the side, and huge cups of coffee and we were happy. Green though she was to begin with, Rachel devoured her soup, and it seemed to cure the bus-sickness for the rest of the day. Not only delicious, but magical! Perhaps there were some fairies in the kitchen…
As we drove off after our too-short break in the beautiful village, we noted Doolin as one of those must-return-to places, for when we have a car, and time to explore. Alas, this would not be the trip for that.