Hoo-boy — been a bit since I’ve written. We had no access on Inis Mor (pronounced Inish Moor) — part of the Aran Islands, so I couldn’t do updates.
The finish to day 9 included a dinner at Cactus Jack’s or some goofy name like that. May I recommend to my readers, when in Ireland, DO NOT go out for Mexican food. Alas, it was raining and it was the only place we could find that would take 15. The company was lovely at the least.
Day 10 we woke early to catch the shuttle to the ferry. Of course there was no shuttle waiting for us. As the group amassed by the breakfast cafe (which have I mentioned is terrible?), we got a bit dismayed by how late the shuttle was. Finally the uber-cruiser pulled up — this silver-bullet looking behemoth — luxury liner of busses. we were all very impressed with it, so the kids began to pile in while Jeff asked the driver if we were going to get to the ferry on time. The driver replied, “Ferry? I’m not going to the ferry.”
“Kids! Wrong bus,” we yelled. Several minutes later, a much sadder looking bus arrived with the world’s oldest man at the wheel. We took off to the ferry, transferred to a different bus, and had a lovely ride along the coast. We claimed our seats on the ferry, and as we got going, I went outside onto the back deck. The salty spray of the seas coated my glasses and face. I enjoyed the waves and the spray. A man began chatting with me immediately as I approached the railing. He was a former teacher (about my age) from Brookline — though he is originally from Ireland. Then his fiance came over to us and we talked all about wedding plans. It was nice to have some adult chat time as I chatted with them for the whole ride.
Things got a bit chaotic as we disembarked on Inis Mor.. Where were we going? How were we getting there — lots of ideas, no hard decisions. The night before we decided on a 22k hike. The innkeepers that we called suggested bikes instead. It was a supremely beautiful day — sunny and clear, breezy. We ended up renting bikes, and the innkeeper took our bags to the inn. After getting the “rules,” helmuts, and bikes, we were off. We rode on the left side, of course, single file as this little caravan. Before long, there were mechanical issues with bikes. Hannah’s gears weren’t shifting, Collin’s chain fell off, etc. We fixed those glitches, and we rode on to the ruins of a little abbey. At this point, while I am about as athletic as they make them, I was exhausted from not just the pedaling uphill but also the additional weight I was carrying. Brendan and Alex helped me by taking portions of the weight. We explored the ruins and climbed up a hill where the view was exquisite. This ride was along the coast, so the view consisted of the abbey ruins, grasses, stone walls, and then waves and waves and waves. It is really an amazing island.
Then we continued on, stopping for ponies and traps that went by. Again, we experienced a few mechanical failures, and finally with a sandy beach up just ahead, Zach’s bike broke beyond repair — the whatchamacallit broke. Zach was our bike fix-it guy, but even this was beyond his expertise. So we walked the bike to the beach, where Jeff and I tried using our cell phones to contact the bike shop or the inn, but sadly we had no reception. The kids were enjoying the beach with its sinking qualities — you know how when you go to the beach and you step on the wet sand, it’s like walking on thin ice that breaks — it can hold some weight but then sinks down about 2 inches — sand like that.
Finally Alex suggested that we just ride back to the bike shop to get them to bring a new bike, and Alex and I were off. I figured I’d “take one for the team” by letting Jeff continue on as I did the extra riding. Jeff took a large group to Dun Aengus while Collin, Laura, Max, and Brendan waited with Zach and his broken bike. I was feeling heroic, riding back the “quick” road — the downhill road. Well it was downhill, except for the giant incline we first had to climb. So off like speeding bullets we went…for about 10 feet. I needed to stop several times going up the hill to try to catch my breath. Alex was kindly patient with me, though he had little choice. We passed more ruins of abbeys, a statue of Christ, many little houses, stone walls, cows, sheep, roosters, and more stone walls. The road was high up on the isalnd (it was quite a climb), so it had amazing views all around. When I asked Alex at the bike shop if he enjoyed the views, he said he didn’t look around, he instead was focused on following me, on getting to the bike shop. Lovely lad, implying that all I care about are views and not poor bikeless Zach. Hmpf! I can multi-task. At the top of the island, the cows mooed and a rooster cock-a-doodle-do’d. I responded with my own cock-a-doodle-do, and all hell broke loose among the cows. They began making stange sounds that grew louder. It was humorous for us. At one point on the climb, as the cows were mooing, Alex said, “Hoj, they’re cheering you on!”
The bike shop drove us back with our bikes plus the new one for Zach. When we got there, the kids wanted to join the others at Dun Aengus, so we set off. But I was exhausted. I needed to rest. I told the kids that they could go, and that I would wait for them. But then Collin had left his camera at the beach, so we went back for that. We decided to just head for the inn. We rode into town (Kilronan) and sat in an outdoor cafe with sodas to rest a bit, playing a little game where we cast the people in our lives with movie actors. Thus we set out to cast the entire cast of our trip. About an hour or so later, Jeff arrived with the others, all saying how amazing it was. They said it was infinitely more impressive than the already very impressive Cliffs of Moher. Then we were all sad, but figured we could go the next AM. We began our ride to the inn, and since we were all a bit clueless, we went down wrong roads, or should I more correctly say we went UP wrong roads. We finally found it and climbed the hill to Ard Einne, our guesthouse.
Ard Einne was a great place. It had the whole victorian quaint thing going on, but what was especially wonderful about it was the amazing views it gave us. Also, the hospitality was great. We had dinner with them, a four course meeal — the soup was very good. (The chef was offended that not all of the kids ate everything on their plates.) I called Sujal from my room, my room with two big picture windows, both showing sea, stone walls, green upon green, cows — and Irish wonderland.
After dinner, the kids wanted a writing session, so we did some postcard poetry. I went to bed early, but sadly I had a restless night. As the evening came to a close, grey clouds were rolling in. In the morning, it was raining. We couldn’t go to Dun Aengus, and furthermore, most of us had pretty sore butts from riding so much the previous day. I was physically exhausted. Even my lungs ached. We had breakfast at the inn, and then we got shuttles to Kilronan. We all gave the Aran Sweater Shop lots of our money, and then we boarded the ferry.
It was an uneventful ride back, and when we returned to Galway, Jeff and I had lunch at the King’s Head Pub where we had yummy chodwer. We returned to campus after getting tea, and I took a long, hot shower, which felt so good! In the evening, we split up for dinner, and I went with Heather, Hannah, Laura, Molly, Caroline, and Alex to the Druid Lane restaurant. It was a lovely dinner. I had salmon and risotto and then bread pudding (finally!) for dessert. Hannah wasn’t feeling so hot, so we went straight home. Most of us were pretty logey from the dramamine we took for the choppy ferry ride home.
This morning (my birthday!), I was going to rent a car to take some kids up to the Connemarra, but the weather was looking inhospitable, and I was extremely tired. I spread the word, had breakfast, and went to sleep. We were meeting at 10:30 to have a writing session, but I slept until 11:30, which was much needed and glorious. As I strolled into the writing session, the kids belted out a harmonizing rendition of “Happy Birthday.” Then we came into town for lunch. Today is a day of souvenir shopping. Tonight is the big last dinner blowout! More later.