Lets begin with a little ditty, just so you know how much I do appreciate Doolin. But before you go on, you’re not allowed to just read it, you’ve got to promise to sing it, otherwise you wont get the full effect. The tune goes: la laa la laa la la-la, la laa la laa la laa, but you can make up your own if you want.
Oh I love to visit Doolin
A village by the sea
Oh I love to live in Doolin
Doolin, you’re the one for me
How I love to be in Doolin
Beneath the silver sky
Oh I’d love to stay in Doolin
Doolin, youre the one for…I (?? it rhymes)
And before I go into detail of just why Doolin is so wonderful I’ll just take a moment to fill in the gaps. After spending Easter weekend with Lex, Kane and co ( let me interrupt to provide you with a couple of photos of Lex and Kane at some castle near Dingle – just for funView image View image ), on Tuesday I travelled up the coast further to Galway. I guess I’ d kind of built Galway up in my head because I’d heard such good things about it and this is where I was planning to stop for a while and find some work. I was slightly disappointed. The main street is great. Its alot like Grafton street in Dublin – cobbled and pedestrians only, with plenty of buskers and slightly weird sorts -always welcome in my book, aslong as they dont try to touch you. Other than that it’s just another city. It is situated right by the water which is a good thing, but the walkways and the rocky area round the bay are very dirty which is a bad thing – theres rubbish everywhere and it annoys the hell outa me. While in Galway I met up with Aussie Dylan and Aussie Ellen and Aussie Heather who I’d shared a room with in Cork, so once again it was a good night (yes despite all the Australian blood), with live music – not so traditional this time, songs included ACDC (blweua and other sounds of disgust) much to the Aussies’ delight.
On Thursday, Aussie Dylan and I decided to go see the Cliffs of Moher – the best scenery in all of Ireland according to some – and on the tourist office’s advice chose Doolin as our destination.
And so it is that I came to be in Doolin. Doolin is about two hours away from Galway, down the coast. Trusty LP paints a picture of a bustling seaside town with cafes, pubs and B&b’s but really its just a road. At the top end of ‘town’ if you can call it that there are two pubs across from each other and a few restaurants down a side street. Scattered for a km or so along the road from there, there are indeed b&b’s. Smack in the middle and right by the Aille River (which many will argue is not a river but a creek even though its called a river – especially Americans and Australians – but if its called Aille River, its got to be a river right? You cant argue with a sign) is the Aille River Hostel, another small town hostel and as friendly as can be. Another further km down the road is a restaurant, a hostel, a tourist sweater shop, a deli (dairy), another tourist shop and the third and final pub. Its so spread out that you could easily drive right through it not knowing you’d arrived in fact a guy did actually come into the hostel one night to ask where Doolin was….’well, we’re sorry to tell you but you’re smack bang in the middle of it’. I guess you could compare it to Te Poi on the way to Hamilton in NZ….and if you dont know where that is then you’ve got my point exactly.
If you walk down through ‘town’ you’ll arrive at the pier, you’ll see the ocean stretching endlessly out in front of you, the Cliffs of Moher in the distance to the left, and miles of rocky shoreline to the right. The lanscape all around is amazing. Green green grass (greener than peas even) scattered with grey patches of rock where the land has eroded away, and crossed with old stone walls. But more moody and barren than I make it sound. Towards the left and the cliffs, the land rises up, to the right it stretches out flat to meet the coast. It really is beautiful.
I spent five days in Doolin and could go on and on about it but I know you’re lives dont always revolve soley around me, not always, so lI’ll break it down (cue MC Hammer moves).
Thursday: Arrived, settled, walked out to pier and round the rocks for an hour or two. That night
met another Aussie (geez theyre everywhere) Mary, American Ryan (a girl Ryan) and went to McConnors pub for some traditional Irish music (suprise suprise) from an Irish ensemble including one guy who I swear was the JimiHendrix of the spoons – you should have seen him play those things. It was insane.
Friday: Its a lovely afternoon, lets hire bikes and bike to the top of the Cliffs of Moher, its all uphill but great idea. I love spending 50 minutes in complete and utter muscle agony. Whoever the eejit who invented the bike was, they could have done me the decency of adding a motor. The Cliffs of Moher
though, theyre worth 50 minutes of agony.
Aussie Dylan and I left the bikes at the tourist epi-centre, complete with too many tourists/tour buses and annoying Irish whistle player milking the too many tourists who arrived on the too many tour buses for all they’re worth, and began the walk round the top of the cliffs. A sheer 203 meter drop if I remember correctly (I measured it myself) and the cliffs stretch for ages along the coast. You can also look over away from the sea and see the surftown and beach of Lahinch. The track round the top of the cliffs is in most places about 2meters from the edge with a stone slab wall between you and a fall to the death. Eventually though the wall ends and the path weaves closer to the edge. Add to this the fact that rain earlier on had made the dirt tracks very muddy, and that earlier Karl the hostel manager had told us that 12-15 people are ‘blown’ off the edge every year….we were pretty freaked out. One false step and you’ve slip sliding over the edge. But there were crazy crazy people wandering around on the muddy grass verge of the cliffs, peering over the side,sitting and dangling their feet over a rocky ledge..I was sure I’d see someone go over…but I didnt…maybe if the wind had picked up a little.
We walked for 30 minutes, no – 32 minutes, and finally outwalked the hordes of tourists and the annoying whistle man. It was quiet. Too quiet. The idea did cross my mind to get out my cellphone and ring one of yous up, with my best American/Australian accent -(take your pick – they both work) ‘Guess where the f*** I am,….the f***ing Cliffs of Mohair, yeah!’ (please remember as you read this how much I do love Americans and Australians – you guys rule). But I didnt. We sat for another, uh lets see, 27 minutes it was, just absorbing the view and the quiet and then chatting to some Germans who dared venture from the pack. After very carefully walking back we jumped on the bikes and made our glorious way downhill back to Doolin. I dont know who invented the bike, but that was sheer genius. I think I pedaled once. At the start.
Speaking of the bikes, this would be a good opportunity for me to warn you about the psycho rat dogs here in Ireland. While biking up to see the cliffs, I had several encounters with the crazy munts. One of them I swear actually launched itself off a stone wall and at my bike, narrowly avoiding becoming chopped suey dog in my spokes. And then I was just walking down the road in Doolin when this foxterrier runs up and starts barking and tugging at my jeans – and its owner is just wandering along behind me, calling weakly at the dog but seemingly quite happy to let it continue to try and bite my leg off 100meters down the road. And the dogs in Ireland own the road. They just wander willynilly all over it. The owners dont care, and the cars just slow down and wait. Maybe they’re the sacred animal of the Catholics. Like cows in Hinduism. I dont know. Makes sense though.
Friday night we visited McGann’s pub down the other end with Ryan (girl Ryan) and Kiwi/Austrian Stefan. More traditional music but with a double bass which was interesting.
Okay Im not really breaking it down much but I’ll keep going. Feel free to skim. Or just sit and imagine me and my MC Hammer moves – that’ll make for a more entertaining time.
Saturday: was to be the day I realized just what a hole Doolin is (in the nicest nicest possible way), when I found out there was no ATM/bank/postoffice. You can use your credit card to charge drinks at the bar though. So we caught a ride with more Aussies (arrghh!) to Lahinch about 6miles away. Got some money out and spent a couple of hours sitting down at Lahinch surf beach in the sunshine watching crazy people freeze several or more of their body parts off swimming and learning to surf. Its a really touristy sort of place, big on the ‘learn to surf for EU30′ thing, but it was good to be back by the beach. Nothing as nice as home though. Caught a ride back to Doolin (dare I say hitched… only because the buses werent operating until summer) with Ogie, a guy who works making jewellery, musical instruments and wooden things.
Saturday afternoon walked down to see about a job at the restaurant (missed out by a day) then carried on to walk back along the coast. Had to clamber across a couple of fields then over rocky ground shot with crevices. Its so weathered and alien. There were several big boulders which could well have been ancient tombs or something but they also looked alot like just big rocks. If you carry on a lot further down and away from town you can venture into the Burren which is even more rocky and barren, and dotted with ring forts, standing stones etc but I didnt get that far.
I had a quiet night on Saturday, while the now regular crowd did a pub crawl all round town. Woohoo. Three pubs.
Sunday spent hanging out by the rocks then having an early dinner so as to beat the huge bunch of Italians to the kitchen. Sunday night I joined the pub crawl. Again woohoo. Three pubs.
Monday I did intend to go on a big of a hike (dont look so suprised, I can hike) into the Burren but the weather was absolutely bitter. Actually more crazy than bitter. Sun one moment, hail the next and I think even some sleet. The wind though, was so icy I couldve cried. But I put my big girl face on and didnt. Spent most of the day inside. Tuesday (thats today) I reluctantly caught the bus back to Galway. Its my plan now to go back to Doolin in May to work, when it will be overrun by tourists – there were busloads arriving everyday while I was there so it’ll be crazy in summer. I left my number at a few places incase anything comes up. Rain and shine its my favourite place so far. I’ll probably dream of Doolin tonight.
This avo, did a bit of shopping for stuff they dont have in holetowns like Doolin, contemplated buying EU200 waterproof gortex jacket for trip to Aran Islands tomorrow. Still contemplating. So yeah, off to Inishmor, the larger of the Aran Islands tommorow for more big rocks and barren landscapes. I love it.