Day 6 – Clare to Bunratty Castle (September 15th)
We left early to travel out to Aillwee Caves. I found my usual place with the Budget Rent-A-Car Map, google maps, and GPS (yes, all three were necessary) and noted that the drive didn’t seem to be too difficult. That is, until we came to a detour. At a loss, we put ourselves in the GPS’s capable virtual hands and let her guide us up a steep cliff which was barely wide enough for 1 car. We did get breathtaking scenery out of the deal, which I originally uploaded and then realized there can really only be so many pictures of hillsides before I lose all my followers.
We finally made it to Aillwee Caves, which advertised a “30-minute stroll through beautiful underworld caverns, over bridged chasms, under weird formations and alongside the thunderous waterfall.” It wasn’t quite as grandiose as that advertisement led us to believe but the waterfall was pretty cool.
Our harrowing trip was not for nothing, since Aillwee caves also made their own cheeses. I was all for heading to our car and driving to the shop but Ryan pointed out a “woodland trail to Cheese Shop“ sign, and since our unspoken motto of the trip was – active active active –, instead of lazy-ass-couch-potatos, we ventured on.
The trail was gorgeous, tranquil, and just a little bit weird.
Awhile later, armed with delicious cheese, we headed out to the Cliffs of Moher.
Now these cliffs were the one place I wanted to visit even before I opened my first guide book. I pictured standing on the cliff, looking out into the Atlantic ocean and just taking in Ireland. However, it was a little more commercialized than I envisioned, and a little less standing on a cliff – because that would be dangerous…. Go figure.
There was a flat outcrop jutting into the ocean that looked like the perfect place to take a picture. I pointed it out to Ryan and joked about standing out there while he took a picture. But we didn’, because I’m not stupid.
Before I knew it these tourists did just that, to the dumbfounded stares of the hundred of us that figured, not walking out onto the outcrop may be a good rule to follow.
And then as the girl who had dangled her legs off the precipe for a picture was getting up, she completely fell and had to be caught before she fell off the edge. I’m going to guess that the word that people were muttering all around me in different languages was “idiot!“
On the top of my list of things to do was visit Craggaunowen. I could be wrong but I think it is like Jamestown or Williamsburg with people dressing up as if it was a century (or several) ago. I love that kind of gimmicky stuff. But every place I turned had a different information listed. From last sale in August to mid-September. The actual website was still selling tickets. Ryan offered to do his best in getting me to the park on time (yes, he spoils me) so he actually floored that skoda gas pedal to 100 kmh (which was the speed limit). The reason we weren’t actually ever going the speed limit was because… well picture a not well paved road with about 1.5 lanes for dual way traffic. Now picture doing that at 60 mph? Exactly.
But he did it. And he got us there with minutes to spare before last admissions of the day. And it was closed! BOOOOOOOOO!
Oh well, more time to head on over to Bunratty Winery where they sell Potcheen (the original Moonshine and Mead. Side note: as I’m now writing this after enjoying some of our souvenir Potcheen. One does not enjoy Potcheen. One just tries not to black out from Potcheen.
That evening we headed out to Bunratty Castle and Folk Park for a medieval nights type of dinner. It was the highlight of our entire trip. The folk park closed earlier that afternoon, but once we gave our dinner tickets at the entrance we had free reign to roam around the park until dinner.
When it was finally time to enter the castle, we were lead up to a welcome reception and offered cups of mead to drink while we listing to the violin and harp before we were collected for dinner.
In the dining hall (originally the guards’ quarters) we sat on long wooden tables and were not provided with utensils (a la medieval times).
The food was really tasty and utensils weren’t really missed. After dinner the minstrels of the castle entertained us with singing – including my long awaited favorite, Danny Boy. I had been dying to hear it every night when live music came on at the pubs but I suppose it would be the equivalent to waiting to hear Tiny Bubbles at a (kamaina attended) luau.
Meanwhile, all the way in Ireland we ended up sitting next to a BC graduate. Go Eagles!