With Alessia’s busy schedule, our quick travel get-away seems to be more challenging. Our calendars finally overlapped with some available dates so both of us ventured to Dublin, Ireland. Looking at the flight loads, it was clear traveling in business class was out of the question. Arriving at the airport, we noticed that many flights were delayed, several canceled and chaos was surely evident. Hopping from gate to gate, we get called to board La Guardia instead of JFK. Completely shocked with our tickets, we board and off we go to LGA. Luck of the Irish!
Arriving into the new terminal in LGA was awesome. Newly constructed facility with a great food court. Enjoyed a nice lunch, and then flagged a taxi to JFK airport. Traffic was moderate but we had ample time for our 950pm flight. Roamed around the airport, went to our traditional Shake Shack restaurant which this time tried the new Shake Shack Chicken; equally tasty as their renowned hamburgers.
Taking a seat at the gate and while the pre-boarding starts, we noticed that we actually made business class. Luck of the Irish!
Upon arriving in Dublin, we take the air-coach bus to the city center and take the hop-on hop-off tour. Almost every location I visit, if a bus service in which you can get off at any stop and get back on, I unquestionably take it. I don’t think there is a better way to familiarize yourself with the city as one can with the Hop-on Hop-off tour. The day was great even though showers were in the forecast, we had nothing but sunshine. Again, I guess luck of the Irish!
We visit many points of interest from the Guinness brewery to Trinity College. From St.Patrick’s Cathedral to other local relaxing park areas. What dominated the scenery seemed to be building facades filled with green vines and colorful flowers. Definitely their landscape is dominated with an abundance of greenery.
The city center and surrounding areas did have the typical cobble roads and traditional stone churches, however definitely not like many other European cities. It seems they were predominately more rectangular in shape and built with bricks. Pubs dominated every corner and an allure of friendship and good times prevailed throughout the streets. A quick stop in the local souvenir shop reminded us of where we were with Irish music bouncing all over the walls.
We check into our hotel which was conveniently located and couldn’t believe on the luck that followed us since the pick up location for the next day’s Cliffs of Moher tour was down the street. Our hotel was an old building reminiscent of the 1800 and the decor brought us back to that era.
We have a relaxing supper at Nando’s where we discover an interesting concept. You walk in, get seated, handed a menu and when one is ready to order, you head to the rear and order it at the cash register advising them of your table number. You take back your seat and moments later a waitress brings the food. Food was extremely tasty and the format seemed to make everything run smoothly. A European night can’t end without a nice Italian Ice Cream.
Next up, Cliffs of Moher.
Before meeting our tour bus, we walk in a 24 hour convenience shop that has everything from breakfast menu to grocery items. Several folks were present in this shop but one person in particular caught my attention. A local Irishman, possibly mid-30’s, happy and walking with some balance issues. He approaches me and asks me politely with his irish accent of my origins. “Canadian hey!” Throws out his hand and firmly shakes mine. He advises me he’s drunk and after small conversation, it dawns on me that even if they are drunk, they are extremely kind people.
We board the tour bus with Extreme tours and couldn’t ask for a more knowledgeable tour guide. Matthew was his name and history was his game. Great story telling technique that made everything sound so interesting. The 3 hour bus ride passed rather quickly with his stories. Dublin is located on the east side of the island and the cliffs of Moher are on the west side. He clearly explained the land on the east side has a high concentration of peat moss which allows the soil to retain the moisture coupled with many days of rain, results in the beautiful green landscape Ireland is known for. The soil changes midpoint and one can notice the high levels of limestone rocks in the west creating a different landscape. He continued in explaining that seeing all the rocks that are readily available, the home owners would build fences with them throughout the perimeter of their land. The interesting part is that they wouldn’t use any form of mortar to bind the rocks. They were simply placed one on top of the other in proper formation and angles that stood the test of time. I had to see for myself and get a closer look.
Our first stop was at Caherconnell Fort. A fort built-in the 10th Century in which a demonstration of sheep dog and human interact while containing sheep in a specified perimeter. We were completely astonished on how different whistle sounds, different word calls and different tones order the sheep dogs to move the herd in any direction that is needed. Moreover, how the dogs themselves work together to align them properly. It didn’t take long for Alessia, the animal and nature lover to make new friends……
The tour we had chosen allowed us to see the cliffs from sea level by taking a boat ride, and then from atop by walking the path along the cliffs. Great combination to truly sense the height of the cliffs. The sun was shining, the air was crisp and a sense of tranquillity filled the air. We board the tour boat and ride the perimeter of the cliff base sizing up the true height of these wonderful rock formations. With slightly choppy waters several onboard had trouble keeping their breakfast in their stomachs. After lunch in one local pub in Doolin, we found ourselves 700 feet up a cliff and gazing at the water splashing against the rocks below. The force in which the waves collided, gave way to an awesome display of white bubbly showers popping back in the dark blue waters. Too bad we only had 1 hour!
Following the boat ride, we then take the bus to the top of the cliffs. Again the sun was shinning and the air was so crisp. We walk a path along the cliffs admiring the extreme vertical drop with rocks seemingly cut with exact precision.
Many tourists were present and at one point, although an area was cordoned off, Alessia and I jumped the fence and got a closer look at the true drop. I’m usually very cautious and stay within the rules of the park, but this opportunity was knocking just a little too hard. Both Alessia and I carefully walked to the edge and as the adrenaline rushed through our bodies we sat along the rim and admired the water clapping the rocks beneath us. Talk about being free as a bird.
We could have definitely stayed longer gazing at the ocean but seeing our tour bus was ready to leave, we had to hurry back to our meeting point. The ride back was equally entertaining and informative with Matthew’s continued stories.
Our luck was still going strong for the next day we make the flight in first class and another Father-Daughter escapade had been concluded.