Day 24 - Cave & Cliffs

Ok, so we did it to get it out of our system... We slept at a hostel. Will we do it again? Probably not, but they say never say never! The kids loved it, but I didn't really get that "we are all travelers let's share stories" vibe. It likely has something to do with the fact that we were a family, and had a private room. Most of the people at the hostel were alone and I overheard some of them trying to have conversations with others. I have no complaints about the hostel. It was clean and quiet and comfortable, but I think I had made up this super fun, let's make friends atmosphere in my head! 

The view of Shop street from our room in the morning

The view of Shop street from our room in the morning

A light breakfast was included as part of our stay, and we had to wash up after ourselves. After eating, we headed out to check out Eyre Square, but as we often do we got distracted by a mall on our way. We went in to have a look around and ended up window shopping for so long that it was advisable to eat something before getting back on the road. The shopping mall was close enough to Eyre Square, so we stepped out to take a look before eating lunch.

Eyre Square

Eyre Square

After lunch, we continued our journey down south along the Atlantic Wild Way.  This time we actually made a reservation at a bed and breakfast in the Ring of Kerry (in Glenbeigh). The goal was to make it there around 4 or 5 PM (I'll save you the suspicion and let you know now that we didn't make it until 9:30 PM!! Ha!)

On our way, we drove through some very neat landscapes in an area of Ireland called The Burren, where we decided to make a stop at the Aillwee Cave.  The kids were really excited, it was their first time being in a cave. There was a guided tour that taught us a lot about the history of the cave.  Hannah's favorite part was the waterfall and Kian's favorite part was the lair where the bear(s) supposedly would sleep during the winter, about 2000 years ago when there were still bears in Ireland.

Kian also enjoyed his head lamp, as it made him feel like Martin from Wild Kratts

After the cave, we stopped at the farm shop on our way out where we could sample freshly made cheeses and fudge. Mmmm Mmmm...

Next stop was the Cliffs of Moher. Unfortunately for the tired kids who fell asleep in the car, the ride was not very long, and so they weren't very happy at first. 

The Cliffs of Moher are magnificent, but the admission price is a bit ridic! I continue to be glad that our kids are under 6 and can get in almost anywhere for free. The entire site is very touristy, with big buses pulling into the parking lot and lots and lots of people walking around. 

Nonetheless this wasn't a view we were going to pass up. We did not walk all the way to the end, just up one way to a little tower, then we turned around towards the main cliffs and went half way to the second cliff before heading back. We took the "safer" path, which is barricaded by big stone blocks. On the other side of the blocks you can walk on the edge of the cliff if you would like, and we saw quite a few people doing it. They do have big "DANGER" signs to let you know, you walk the edge at your own risk!

Also, for the Harry Potter enthusiasts, such as ourselves, it was fun to see the film location of one of the scenes from Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.

It was getting pretty late, and we still had a very long drive to the B&B where we were going to stay for the night.  It really isn't that far of a distance as the bird flies, but in Ireland the roads are not exactly super highways, or even remotely straight, and there is a big river in the way with no bridge, making the only driving route something that would take us significantly out of the way.  We knew that there is also a car ferry that can take us across the river and make our drive much shorter, but we did not know when the last one would leave. Around 5:45 PM, the Atlantic Wild Way brought us into a town and we decided to ask a shop owner if he knew more information about the ferry. 

He did! The last ferry would leave at 9:30 PM and we were only about 45 minutes away. We took the 7:00 PM ferry across the river.

Hannah kept saying that we could not drive on a boat with our car. "The car is too heavy", she kept saying, and would fall off. She was definitely surprised when she saw the number of cars on the ferry.

The ferry took us across the river Shannon from County Clare to County Kerry. 

The kids looking at the Shannon River from the ferry

The kids looking at the Shannon River from the ferry

We grabbed dinner from Alma's Takeaway in Milltown, a little shop that served pizza, burgers, chicken nuggets, and the likes. It was good food, and I loved that the shop was run by two women. Since everyone was quite exhausted, we all went to bed shortly after arriving at the B&B, the Kerry Ocean Lodge. 

Tomorrow is another day :) 

Day 23 - Road Trip...1st stop...Galway

We hopped in the car after breakfast, and no this was not early in the morning. We seem to be taking our time getting out of the door these days, but we are totally loving the pace. We did, however, pack our lunch to eat on the way to Galway. 

With no real itinerary in mind and no place booked for the night, we headed out to see what the day would bring. 

About an hour or so into our drive we got to the city of Oughterard and saw signs for the Aughnanure Castle.  We decided to stop and check it out. The weather was perfect, and the castle was completely uncrowded. With plenty of green grass surrounding it, the kids played a few rounds of tag before we headed inside.  There was also a very friendly dog that just pranced about the grounds and liked to chase after the kids.

We had fun exploring the castle. There is no furniture, but perhaps this was better as we were able to go through all the rooms and check everything out. 

After our visit, we figured that to keep everyone happy we better eat our lunch. We have this characteristic in our family that when we get hungry, we get very very cracky!  It somehow applies to every single one of us, without fail :) 

Since we couldn't eat on the castle grounds (there was a "NO PICNIC" sign), we just hung out and ate in the parking lot.  Clara (the dog) was very interested in our meal and really wanted to share with the kids.

Picnic lunch in the car :)

Picnic lunch in the car :)

With everyone's stomachs filled up, we continued our journey south on the west coast.  We arrived in Galway around 4PM. We parked the car and started walking. From what we saw (and we happened to be there during the art festival period), Galway is very lively around Shop Street and Eyre Square. We saw lots and lots of street performers with good quality acts and music.

We enjoyed our walk, but remembered that we had no place to stay yet, so we started back towards the car and got side tracked by an Irish Tea House. A cup of tea was just what we needed.

We headed out of the tea shop and started our walk back to the car...this time suddenly the sign of the Barnacles Hostel grabbed my attention. Just to check it out we went inside and I asked if kids were allowed to stay and they said yes. Ok then, let's try out a hostel stay just to see what the big deal is. 

The best part about the hostel was that it is right on shop street. Shop street is a pedestrian only street with lots of shops and restaurants. So we were right in the center of it all. We got a private en-suite room with 2 bunk beds. This amused the kids greatly!! 

Barnacles Hostel (the green building) on Shop Street in Galway

Barnacles Hostel (the green building) on Shop Street in Galway

After we dropped off our stuff in the room, we walked a bit more and then decided to go to Thai Garden for dinner. 

The atmosphere was very authentic and the food was very good but admittedly the prices were much higher than we expected. In the end, though, we were really in the mood for some Thai food so we enjoyed every bite :)

After dinner we walked around a bit more and saw more street performers and checked out a few stores.

Irish viking hats

Irish viking hats

And we wrapped up the night with 2 chocolate ice creams for our little traveling companions. 

Kian trying Hannah's ice cream since they had different sprinkles

Kian trying Hannah's ice cream since they had different sprinkles

Mmmmm Mmmm....A delicious end to a wonderful day of sight seeing.