Waking up in Cork we made it to the bus station with hopes of making it to the west coast to spend our last few days exploring the Cliffs of Moher. With both the weather and time against us, we expected a hassle transporting our bikes, but realized that not everything was worth the stress.
After a few coffees, the bus arrived, our bikes were comfortably stored underneath and I sat staring at the countryside through twisting jarring roads. This bus was jerking around every corner through a labyrinth of narrow roads with its wheels touching the edge. A part of me was happy to not be biking because of the lack of room, the inevitable chance of being run down by a bus, and the chilling rain. Then thinking about, it was those type of days riding through less than ideal conditions where I had the most fun. Pushing myself through a mixture of howling winds, cranking engines and the rush of a semi coming within inches of my panniers while I yelled in fear and excitement... I liked that. Those were the rides that made the destination and the beer at the end of the day that much better.
Dropped off in Ennis, we decided to take another bus to the Cliffs of Moher and see what sort of accommodation could be found there. There was realistically 3 days before we had to be in Dublin on the 9th or 10th to situate everything with our bikes and get ready for the flight back to California. On the bus, I happen to spark up a conversation with a guy sitting across from be with a big smile and a case with what I found out was a saxophone. Obviously a backpacker, his name was Leeander, who was traveling for a few months around Europe armed with a backpack and a saxophone. He was jumping from hostel to hostel working for a few weeks at them with the payment of food and board, while he was able to explore a new region. When he mentioned he was headed to a hostel in Doolin, our destination, Keagan and I lit up and ended up following are new German friend to his new job in search of a room.
Doolin is a charming country village with a few pubs and B&Bs catering to the tourists visiting the cliffs of Moher. We were dropped off with our gear and bikes in front of a quaint white building with the words “Rainbow Hostel” painted against a rainbow.
With the glimmering smile of hope we always don when searching for a place to rest knowing that our options are thin, the owner, Carmel, welcomes us into her home. Not really knowing what to expect, we settled in as a fire was being tended in the living rooms stove and travelers were coming in and out. It seemed alright. We were given warm smiles and jumped on our bikes to climb up a lovely hill through the stone-lined fields to pick up something for dinner.
Per-usual, our options in the small-town market were minimal, but I let Keagan work his magic as I did my thing and picked out something for dessert. Without disappointment there was a pot of delectable lamb and vegetable tomato soup. By this point, a few more had stumbled upon the hostel and with a full pot of stew, and obviously hungry faces, we offered up what was left. Dinner ended up being Keagan, myself, an Italian, our German friend Leeander, as well as two more Germans, Estert and Toby. Everyone was happy with a warm meal on a cold and rainy Irish night.
It was funny to look around as broken English was being tossed around and we were all sharing stories of our travels. Someone was just beginning as others were ending, and some were just meandering, but we all were enjoying life, making the 5 minute walk to the pub afterwards for a few pints.
The next day was wet, and rainy all day. Along with some friends we drove around to make it to the market for food, but couldn’t really do much. I was itching to get back on the bike, so despite the rain, I grabbed the rain gear and went out before I could second guess myself. I guess it was the adrenaline but I ended up drenched to the bone lost along an abandoned shack. Muddy and water trickling over the brim of my cap I just laughed because I knew Keagan was curled up by the fire reading his book. I just thought how nice that was going to be when I was back, so I kept riding, searching for a good photo, until the wind turned and threw me into a thorn bush and the rain decided to flood my vision. It was time to head back. Coming in soaked yet still with a smile, my German friends looked me over with a curious grin and everyone just asked how it was when we all knew the answer. It was very wet.
We had a crew that set out to the pub again that night with the intentions to catch some real Irish music. We weren’t disappointed and I had maybe too good of a time. Made some new friends, one of them being the bartender, who would have a Guinness pouring as soon as he saw one of us get up. As most of the crew left, I couldn’t get myself to leave the music just yet. It has been moments like these where I can just hang out and enjoy myself even if it wasn’t a long day of riding, I love looking back at the past two months that has brought me here.
I made it back and awoke to the constant moan of cows. I have never lived near a farm so I guess this might be a normal thing, but they would not stop yelling. It wasn't a "moo" like a child is taught, but is more of a strong constant gargle that jolted me awake. It was that and the fact that Keagan who was on the bottom bunk, lifted my bed up and let me drop because I was snoring louder than the melodious cows.
I rolled over, saw the light peaking through the curtains, and knowing that this might be a shortly-lived period of sunshine, I got dressed, grabbed my camera and went for a ride. Unlike the ride before, even though the sun was shining and rainbows were sprouting all around, the wind was mean and treacherous.
As soon as I made it to the trail head where I had to stash my bike behind a crumbing stone house, I was in heaven. The light was golden poking through the clouds and I was kind of overwhelmed by where I was. It has been two months but I'm on the west coast of Ireland walking along the Cliffs of Moher watching a stream flow off into the Atlantic ocean. It took me an hour of exploring, falling in the mud, and scrambling down to the tide pools to try and get some photos before I realized that I should go back.
The raw beauty of this place was unnerving. I wanted to run back and grab everyone in the hostel to come see it. Even though this is a well known place, I was the only person in this area and I couldn't take it. It was a combination of the danger that lay within the gorgeous landscape. I kept a wary eye everywhere I placed my foot because I knew one slip and I was gone, swallowed up by the ocean I knew was unforgiving. The stone cut and moving, water from land and sea constantly washing over it in ever corridor leading to caves and crevasses. It seemed more as a different planet than the one I am used to. Before I ventured to far, I knew I had to grab Keagan before I saw the Cliffs of Moher so I turned around(mainly to unload all my photos because I filled up a card).
Ten minutes after I returned, Keagan, myself, and three friends ventured down the Burrens way to hike along the Cliffs of Moher. I just had my vans on, jeans, and a rain jacket. I thought that would've been fine. We started hiking, and within 30 minutes I gave up on keeping my feet dry. Every step towards the cliff would be in a hidden puddle or sinkhole of mud. It became a joke because I would let out a yell of disbelief every ten steps as my feet slid deeper into the Irish countryside. After a while of hiking we reach the fist view point of the cliffs. It's honestly one of those views that gives you a different view on life. I know that is kind of cheesy but honestly looking at these astonishing cliffs, watching the wind blow back the streams into a upside-down waterfall as we ran through them laughing and yelling, I was again, knocked into perspective about what I have experienced.
We pushed through the hardest winds I have ever experienced. Every step I took one foot would be pushed back. We were all yelling and laughing, falling in the mud until we finally made it to the top of the steps and realized how sketchy that situation actually was.
Soaked to the bone, covered in mud, and walking in a puddle, I happily walked away from the cliffs of more after a sold few hour hike that I will never forget. Everyone split up and hitchhiked back in the rain. As soon as we were back, clothes were set out to dry, a pot of tea warmed up and the fire started, it was just another wonderful day in Doolin.