Brian Cheung
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Northbound

Thoughts, photos and anecdotes from my travels through Norway, Scotland and Finland.

Wild Atlantic Way

Today I had a great day of pure unadulterated sightseeing from the comforts of a coach but in the company of some real idiots. 

I woke up at the crack of dawn in order to make it to the first bus bound for Galway at 6.45. Two and a bit hours later I got off at the bus terminal in the city centre and promptly jumped on another bus bound for the nearby Cliffs of Moher. Being such a tight and hastily thrown together side trip, I had spent a night googling and cherry picking all the most notable things to do in each city and in this instance, I surrendered to just booking myself in for a lazy bus tour to see some popular quintessential Irish sights. 

The Cliffs of Moher are reportedly the most visited natural attraction in Ireland, and it's not hard to see why. Spectacular sea cliffs of a scale that I had never imagined before - and absolutely seething with tourists. We were lucky enough to get some great weather today so with little to no wind it made the cliffs that much more crowded.

Along the way we stopped at Dunguaire Castle, where the clouds miraculously parted completely to make for some great photos (see above). We also drove through the Burren (a beautifully barren landscape of worn away limestone) and stopped at another crumbling church ruin and the Poulnabrone portal tomb which dates back to Neolithic times.

Now, I say idiots because as lovely as the lively chatty bus driver Gary was - he spent a good long while discussing different varieties of Irish boats and the finer details of roof thatching - the majority of the passengers either paid no attention to him or talked right over his efforts. A lot of them were Brazilian or Italian, and they had obviously not signed up for the thickly-accented history lesson, but it still felt wildly distracting and more than a bit rude. They also routinely ignored time constraints at each stop - mostly due to the multitude of selfies they were taking with those unnerving selfie sticks and their need to buy cheap nasty things at all the tourist trap gift shops. Let's just say it's been a loooooong time since I've been so eager to shop for key chains.

But irritation aside, seeing the cliffs and wandering around in County Clare on a beautiful warm day made up for however frustrating my company was. I'm now staying in a hilariously kitsch and OTT bed and breakfast found off of Airbnb. It feels like Professor Umbridge exploded in here, and the beautiful host Phil has festooned every surface and porcelain vase with doilies, tassels and fake flowers (her terrible hayfever prevents her from enjoying the real stuff). I've been assured a packed lunch and a full Irish breakfast tomorrow so all in all I think I've done alright.

irelandBrian Cheung