My shiny little online spot to help y'all keep track of me while I galavant around London.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Aran Islands

After our mad dash to make the ferry, we arrived on one of the Aran Islands. Which one? Hell if I know...

Visiting the Aran Islands was K&A's idea, and a good one at that. Located off the west coast of Ireland, the island we were on was covered in rocks and had massive cliffs. So very cool.

Upon our arrival, we tried to find our hostel. Strange for such a small place, it has several hostels. We were pretty sure ours was right by the ferry landing, but that one was full of teenagers and no one seemed to work at the front desk. So, we wandered around a bit aimlessly, lugging our luggage down the skinny streets of the little town. Eventually, a guy who does van tours stopped and talked to Tony, and offered us a ride to a hostel way up the hillside.

We piled our crap into the van, and took off. This man--I can't remember his name, but it was funny--drove like a maniac, careening around corners and taking up the width of the small roads with his speeding van. It was actually rather scary.

We arrive at the hostel, and send shotgun-riding Allison in to find out if they have vacancies. A lot of time passes. Kristian goes inside to see if the hosteliers have murdered his wife. They haven't, but when she comes out, she's angry enough to murder them. They kept her waiting a really long time, and the owner was incredibly rude. Our drive suggested that because of that, and the fact that the hostel guy is black and gay, we should go somewhere else. Yes, you read that right. He wasn't so blunt as that, but that's what he was saying...

But it worked fine for us, as the next hostel he took us to--outside of town, on the other side--was perfect. It was cheaper, to start, and we were all in one room, and the building was not only cool, but had a very cool view.

View from the hostel/rock fences

So buddy-the-van-driver drops us there, and we pay him, and get settled. At this point, we haven't eaten in hours; we just haven't had time, rushing about as we were. So we start hiking back into town.

It's late and it's dark. Not dark the way it is at night in a city, but pitch the way it is in the countryside. Tony and I fall a bit behind, rambling along the path that's lined on both sides by rocky fences.

Just as we come to a break in the fence, something jumps out yelling at us. I scream very very loudly--of course, it's just the rest of the group being bastards. I should have seen that coming.

Anyways, we walk a few minutes and come to the first pub. The bartender tells us he can't serve us food. He looks around a second, and then says he can't. Weird. We tell him we'll be back for pints later...

We continue walking down the road towards the town, which seems much further walking when starving than it did when buddy was booting us out here. Tony has sped up his walking, and is pulling away from the rest of the group. Eventually, we can no longer see him in front of us, and it starts raining.

Ages go by, and we make it into town. It's now past ten pm, and nothing is open. We go begging at restaurants for anything--"can't we just buy some bread off you??"--but to no avail. And, Tony is nowhere to be seen.

We wander the streets looking for him, seeing nothing but the group of teenagers from the first hostel (one group of young'uns had a big bag of chips... I very much had the urge to beat them up and mug them for their snacks...). Tony's nowhere to be found, however.

Eventually, tired, hungry, soaked from the rain and still missing Tony, we start walking back. I was rather worried--I mean, I know Tony's not mental, but still--and hoping he'd just gone back to the hostel.

After the long walk back, we get to the pub. Upon entering, we see, seated at the bar, Tony with a pint in one hand and a gorgeous looking sandwhich in the other. WTF, you ask? Apparently, the bartender isn't allowed to serve food after a certain time, and when we came in earlier, she was about. But, when we returned, she'd left. So awesome-barkeep-man made us all huge sandwiches, and we hung out there, finally fed, drinking and hanging out with him. An excellent end to a crazy day.

. . .

On the second day, we wandered around our hostel area for a bit (Mel even got up super early to watch the sunrise) before heading into town to rent bikes.

Once we got our bikes--horribly scratched, messed up things that they were--we bought some picnic supplies, and then were off. We biked up a massive hill overlooking the water, until we came to our turn-off, a path that took us on a steeper-yet climb to an old fortress.

Allison picking berries

While it took a while walking for the rest of us, Kris and Meru raced up it on the bikes. Maniacs, I tells ya! They may have got there sooner, but they missed the wild blackberries growing along the path...

And biking on these paths was not easy, tho in places it was a lot of fun. The ground was covered in rocks and stone, so it was an off-road experience to say the least. Given the bumps, it's no wonder the poor condition of the bikes.

There are a lot of forts on this island. I'm not sure if it's for ancient strategic reasons or just because they had nothing better to do with all the rocks everywhere...

Tony is king of the castle

After fooling around in various forts and things, we headed to the cliffs. The cliffs here are awesome, in the "awe-inspiring" sense of that word. I'd tell you how tall they are, but I dont' know, and besides, numbers are an inadequate description.

Me at the cliffs

Even standing several feet back, it was hard not to feel vertigo or something at the sheer height of the drop. We hung out there for a bit, messing around and taking silly photos:

Tony, hanging around

Then, we girls headed back to town--Mel wanted to go sweater shopping, as apparently Aran Island wool is famous or something--while the guys took their bikes and went... somewhere. After ditching our bikes, it was back on the ferry and back to the van, and the start of our very long trip to Belfast...

My pics:

Kristian's Aran Island pics:


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