Travel

The Time I Almost got Blown Off a Cliff….

Hello peeps! I can’t believe that I’ve already been in Ireland for a month! It’s so unreal. My friend Clayton leaves tonight for his Sweden/Artic Circle adventure. He and a buddy of his are going to see the Northern Lights. On horseback. If he comes back and doesn’t freeze, that’s going to be the most EPIC story! And even better, he said that in the confirmation email he received, they were told to make sure they brought food with them because there’s literally nothing wherever they’re going. No restaurants, no stores, nothing. Okay, so maybe that’s not better but it’s kind of funny the way he said it when he told us about it. We’re all excited to see his pictures and hear how the horseback riding went when he gets back. But getting there is ridiculous. Just to get there will take 3 planes, a train, and then a horse. Like I said, epic story. So that’s what he’ll be doing this weekend. Next weekend is when my friend Bridget and I go to Budapest! Can’t wait. Seriously, we’re going to take so many pictures, I can just tell. In other news, with the exception of one last hostel, all flights and hostels for our big break have now been booked and bought! It’s gonna be so cool. But I’ll talk more about that in a few weeks when we’re a bit closer to it.

Moving on to the actual topic of this post, the day after our first Roberta trip (so the first Sunday we spent in Ireland) I went on a trip with the International Society here at NUIM to the Cliffs of Moher and Burren. The Cliffs are one of the top attractions for visitors not to mention a designated United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Geo Park. Located on the western seaboard of County Clare, these cliffs are a pretty incredible sight to behold. Despite the wind, it’s a great view. If you look down to see the waves crashing against the base of the cliffs, it’s a massive sea of white foam as the waves break on top of each other and against the rocks. For those of you who have me on Facebook, my cover picture is of the Cliffs.

There’s a small wall maybe a head to a head and a half shorter than me (so, about 4 ft tall) made up of flat slabs of stone that line the edges of the cliff to make sure no one falls off. It also served somewhat as a windbreak for which we were all grateful I think. Seriously. The day that we went was SUPER windy. We found out later that it was because a storm had been rolling in.  Oh, and it was pretty cold too (hello, January). Cold+ super wind+spray= fun? You wouldn’t think so but surprisingly it was. Emily and I couldn’t stop laughing and smiling. Now, as I said, the wind was pretty strong when we were there and I’m barely over 5 foot so I’m a bit vertically challenged. And when I say the wind was strong, I mean the wind was STRONG. There’s a tower on the outermost point on the right side of the cliffs called O’Brien’s Tower. Now, if you can get there, you’re a pro. Like, you survived. And if you can survive the way back you’re set to go. But anyway, before I tell you about that little bit, there was a guy at the top of the steps by the tower who was fun to watch. He’d just jump up and let the wind carry him back a few feet and then fight his way forward a bit and then jump up again and let the wind carry him back and just kept doing that. And keep in mind that this was like a 5’10-6ft tall fully grown man. See what I mean about the wind being strong now? Yeah, wasn’t exaggerating.

Now, onto Emily and mine’s little adventure. First of all, we survived. So we made it to the tower and back alive which is good. I quite like being alive, I hope to stay that way for a while. Now, there’s a small portion of the path that’s pretty exposed to the elements just before you reach the tower. It’s a straight-shoot but it’s really flat, it dips a little bit, and it’s where the spray goes that flies up the side of the cliff looking like an upside-down waterfall. Add all of that and the wind and it’s a miracle you don’t get blown off. No joke. There were a few moments where I was seriously worried because I literally could not move forward against the wind. It was a struggle but we made it! The wind beyond this point was worse I think than any other point we were at on the cliffs. People couldn’t walk straight and kept getting blown back by the wind. Which is how I ended up falling. Emily and I were trying to go down the steps near the tower to head back toward the visitor’s center and the wind blew me right off the steps! I was don’t think I had even lifted my foot yet to take my next step and the wind literally blew me sideways off the top step, over to the little ledge and then right off the ledge! I landed in the grass but because it was wet and rainy, the grass was basically just mud so I lost my balance and fell on my butt. I got to spend the rest of the day in mud-covered jeans so that was cool. I really hope most of you can understand written sarcasm otherwise…well, good luck. Anyway.

view of the Cliffs
view of the Cliffs
view from the tower. Right where that spray is, is the "danger zone"
view from the tower. Right where that spray is, is the “danger zone”
close-up of O'Brien's Tower
close-up of O’Brien’s Tower

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All in all the Cliffs were pretty great. You know, aside from me falling on my butt bit. After the cliffs, we drove away from the cliff back towards the mainland (I’m guessing. I’m not really good with directions.) The cool part of this was, there were cows and sheep grazing on the sides of the road. But not in pastures like we’re used to seeing. Nope, these guys were roaming free. The road we were on though was near the coast and kind of windy so for anyone sitting on the right side of the bus, that must’ve been fun. Especially whenever we passed another car, it must’ve seemed like we were going to crash right into them. I don’t know if you guys know this or not but the engine isn’t located in the front of the bus like it is at home. Well, I’m assuming since it’s flat as a pancake and when they turn the front windshield will come literally two inches from hitting a sign post or another car or whatever.

The weather that day was a bit odd. It kept raining on and off which isn’t uncommon for Ireland but when we stopped for lunch in Doolin we had to wait out a 5-10 minute random hail storm before getting off the bus. And it was sizeable hail.

hail in Doolin
hail in Doolin

After lunch we stopped one more time before heading back to campus, this time at Burren. This, as far as I could tell, was a pretty wide expanse of land on the coast made up of bedrock. It wasn’t eroded so much as cracked though. According to Wikipedia (if you choose to believe every word they write) Burren is a karst landscape. Unless you’re a geologist, there’s a fairly high chance that you’ve never heard this word before in your life (like me; I’m certainly no geologist). So by now you’re probably thinking okay, get on with it, what the heck does karst mean? Basically how I’d describe it–cracked bedrock. But the official explanantion is this: Karst topography is the result of the dissolution of layers of soluble bedrock (ex. limestone and dolomite). At Burren, grass was growing up between the cracks. And because where the bus stopped so we could monkey around the rock for a bit was really near the coast, we got to see some spectacular sprays of water as the waves crashed into the rocks. I tried to capture some of these sprays on camera but it didn’t work as well as I’d hoped.

Burren
Burren
view of the Burren close to the water-edge
view of the Burren close to the water-edge
caught one of the sprays on camera!
caught one of the sprays on camera!

And then like I said, after this we got back on the bus and headed back to campus. A few people got a little too close to the edge and got pretty wet so they had to just sit in wet clothes the rest of the way back. But all in all it was a good day. Alright, school-work time.

❤ Rachel

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