Our time in Ireland had started to feel a bit like a three-week vacation on an Irish bus. But no matter.
From Doolin, we had been able to see in the distance the faint outlines of the Cliffs of Moher – our final destination on this particular winding road.
We avoided the rain yet again, as the bus departed in the direction of the cliffs, following the Wild Atlantic Way, a coastal driving route meandering from Donegal to Cork. We arrived at yet another major tourist destination, but because of the sheer size of the cliffs, and the many ways in which to explore the site, it seemed close to deserted.
O’Brien’s Tower is one of the major highlights at the cliffs, and one of the few things Rachel had on a “must-do” list. The tower was built as a look off for the many tourists who visit the site, and on a fog-less day (few and far between in Ireland) they claim you can see a great distance down the coast in both directions, into the neighbouring counties. Unfortunately, the 3 euro per person fee to climb the tower and take in these spectacular views was 6 euros too many for us. Alas, the views were excellent from the ground, and there were Irish men wandering in period costume, coercing (or encouraging?) people into climbing the tower.
20 kilometers of coastal walks -the Cliffs Coastal Trail- are accessible from the Cliffs of Moher, 8 kilometers of which are actually part of the cliffs. Although we were at the cliffs for just under two hours, we managed to explore at least three of the jutting points, and could observe hikers in both directions. It is even possible to walk from Doolin to the cliffs, approximately an 8 kilometer walk. These walks are definitely going on our list for our next trip, not only because the views are spectacular, but also because the crowds thin out so significantly once you pass O’Brien’s Tower, it’s like standing at the edge of the world, all by yourself.
Having read an article recently in a local paper, describing the lack of supervision and guard rails at a Nova Scotia tourist site, it is a bit funny to stand close to the edges of the Cliffs of Moher, and have absolutely nothing between you and the sheer drop into the ocean. At the highest point, the cliffs are 214 meters high, and although I think there was a small sign mentioning the risk of high winds, common sense prevails among most of the visitors, and a good two feet is left between the crowds and the rocky edge.
We got the best of both worlds, weather-wise, during our short stay. The sky was completely clear upon our arrival, making for perfect photography set-ups, but as the afternoon wore on, the fog from which we had been fleeing all day gradually covered up O’Brien’s Tower. Although the cows in the neighbouring field were unimpressed, mooing and sitting down in protest, the effect of the fog was quite awesome, and by the time of our departure, none of the cliffs in the distance were visible. We got lucky, but definitely check the weather forecast before setting out to the site. The fog will completely obscure any hope of a vista, and any kind of high wind makes for a really cold, and rather unpleasant, visit.
Our bus driver arranged with another bus driver to take “the two Canadians” for 5 euro each, on his bus to Limerick instead of returning to Galway, saving us a bus fare. Turns out, the bus tour we joined was one for seniors, and we became more of an attraction than the fog-covered scenery. We were a big hit, and we even met other Canadians. I offered Rachel a gravol, and we were back on the road.