Doug McLean World Tour 1999-2000
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Date: Saturday, September 25, 1999 8:04 AM
Subject: Sept 12-16: Dublin and Aran Islands!!!

Sept 12, 1999

Clare and I arrived in Paris...took the first train out to Cherborg...waited
6 hours...and caught the ferry from Cherborg, France to Roslare, Ireland.
...this is a 16 hour ferry...we played cards, talked, watched a movie, slept
on the deck...and generally tried to pass the time...

Sept 13, 1999

(note...keyboard I am on has a stuck shift key...caps are not always an option...deal)
Arrived in Roslare, ireland...met a great guy from Ireland...Hugh...he said we were welcome to come visit him on the West coast of Ireland (events would later prevent us from visiting Hugh...but his hospitality and generosity are typical of the wonderful Irish people...thanks Hugh...you are a wonderful ambassador for Ireland...as are all Irish folks I met...hope to visit you next time...)

...anyway, we rallied and went to Dublin...checked in at a hostel downtown...and tried to blend in with the locals...we went to a Pub!

...now I know you can find an Irish Pub in any city in the world...but it was somehow different in Ireland...I am now a great admirer of the Irish Pub...and this is saying a lot...as I do not drink...but the Irish Pubs are
truly meeting places and social venues in the very best senses of the words...and the pub good...particularly the Irish stew was very
good...mmmmmm...

Sept 14, 1999
Clare, another Aussie gal, and I took the Trinity College of Dublin tour...kinda interesting and the highlight is the viewing of the Book of Kells. It is a really darned old book that is colored and detailed within
an inch of it's life...and normally I would give it a miss...but since my grandmother is a bookbinder and printer...and my other grandparents are writers and editors...I guess it is kinda in my nature to appreciate it...it
obviously took lots of work...and has an incredible history...some people think it is one of the great artistic masterpieces of the world...up to ya'll to decide...I thought it was a pretty cool old book...

Then Clare and I went to Dublin Castle...it was kinda unimpressive...but it did have a lovely circular grassy garden with a celtic knot worked into it's design...anyway...the sun was shining...we had gotten chicken for lunch...so we had a lovely picnic, surrounded by random art in the garden...and we
flopped for probably 3 hours in the sun...just like turtles on a log...we just laid there sprawled in the grass enjoying the sunshine! ...until about 50 "suits" walked out of a conference center and milled around 15 feet from us...they asked us to move for 5 minutes so they could take a picture...they were very friendly and laughed about us flopping in their picture spot...no problem...we moved 60 meters away...and resumed flopped positions...it was great!!!

...that night...got ahold of my friend Emer...we would go to Galway on our own...and catchup with Emer in Shannon in a couple of days...we went to a pub (big surprise)...and crashed...

Sept 15, 1999
Awoke early...to get to the trainstation for the 7:20am train to Galway...one problem...I took us to the wrong trainstation!!!! A superfast taxi-ride later and Clare and I just caught the correct train by mere
seconds...no kidding...it was kinda exciting...but a little too close for comfort!

We arrived in Galway...got our bearings...and just managed to catch the next ferry out to the Aran Islands...when I say..."just managed to catch the ferry"...I mean...they called the ferry from the ticket office and held the ferry for us...good Irish hospitality!

The Aran Islands are reputed to be some of the most "Celtic" areas in all of Ireland...they still speak Irish (Celtic) as a first language out on these islands...and converse in daily conversation in Irish.

The ferry had a 1 hour layover in Inishmaan...an incredible windswept island...with awesome stone fences...now I don't mean one or two...I mean the entire island is subdivided by solid stacked stone fences...we went to an old circular fort on the hill...and stacked stone fences went for as far
as the eye could see on this island...because the land itself yields mainly stones and little grass...it is a spectacular island to see! ...but alas...all good things must come to an end...we had to depart for the bigger island of Inishmor.

We landed at Inishmor around 2pm...checked into the hostel...rented bikes...and went to tour the island!!! Now I still don't know if we got the better of that island...or if it got the best of us! Shortly after we left
the hostel and went towards the old forts on the island it started raining...no...that is doing a disservice to it...it was RAINING DAMMIT!!!!!  I am talking cats, dogs, and lawn darts!!! It was freaking raining on us
big time!!! Now, I had my Goretex coat and pants...so I was basically dry (except for my feet which got soaked)...but Clare was not quite as well equipped...she had a red raincoat (note...she bought hers in my
presence...knowing that I was wearing a bright red raincoat...for all who will see my pictures in the future...we looked like fric and frack for a week due to her "wonderful" purchase...don't you know I gave her lots of shit!)...but from the waist down...she was soaked!!!

Anyway...being tourists...and only here for a day...we kept on...no sense crying over spilt milk...we visited a big circular fort in the middle of the island...now when I say an old fort...imagine a circle of stone stacked walls...diameter of the fort is probably 6 meters...and the walls are 5 meters thick...no kidding...for you americans...this is a wall about 15 feet thick of stones...and about 40 feet high...an impressive structure!!!!

...then we got to Dun Aengus!!! This fort is only a semi-circle...the back side is protected by incredibly dramatic cliffs that rise up probably 300-400 feet above the pounding of the Atlantic Ocean!!! This fort actually has 3 semi-circular walls and dates back over 2 thousand years...yes...pre-christianity...old, eh? This was probably the single most impressive sight I saw in Ireland...there are lots of better castles (this
certainly was no castle)...but the magnificence of this fort, it's defenses, and it's spectacular location make it unique in all the world. If you come to Ireland...I implore you to make it a must see on your list!

We returned to the hostel like drowned rats!!! Anyway...the highlight of the evening me surprising Clare by cooking a pasta dinner while she was changing...it was a singularly spectacular disaster!!! Now, I know...pasta has to be one of the easiest things to do..and kinda hard to screw up...but...long story short...it was an abysmally (sp?) bad sauce I bought...the pasta was cold by the time I got it to the table and Clare joined me for dinner (did I mention that gals take forever...hmmmm)...and the hostel kitchen was practically infested with young girls all jabbering away incessantly...and they were constantly using the microwave...so reheating the meal was impossible...it was a collosal disaster...and Clare
decided that I should not have cooking duties anymore! ....Hmmmmmm...maybe it wasn't a disaster after all...

Clare and I decided that it would be a good idea for one of us to wake early in the morning...look outside...see if it was pissing down rain or if it was nice...and then either rollover and go back to sleep (rain) or getup and wake the other (sunshine)...now, obviously neither of us volunteered to wake
at 6:30am for this duty...so we solved it in the time honored tradition of how to solve arguments in any country...in any language...we played Rock, Paper, Scissors!
...I lost...sniff...sniff...
...Clare crashed...I went to the pub with a couple of Irish guys from Galway...had a good evening...watched soccer...crashed...the Irish guys also wanted to be woken if it was nice...hrumph!

Sept 16, 1999
0630...RRRRRRRRRIIIIIINNNNNGGGGGG!!!! AAAARRRGGGHHH!!! 0630 is not a nice time to wake in any country...but when it was pissing down rain the night before...you just want to roll over and crawl further under the covers...but...much to my horror...I looked outside and saw the sun and a clear morning...arrrrrrgggghhhh! ...I couldn't rollover and sleep-in...oh,
the horror!

I woke the Irish guys...told them it was a damn nice day...they cursed with me at the sunshine...and started to get up. I woke Clare...and gave her the bad news as well...she took it like a trooper and got up.

We rode out towards the south we headed towards another cliffside fort...Dun Duchathair...the Black fort! It was spectacular as well...perched high on a cliff...semicircular formation of stones...awesome! We got sprinkled on...but nothing too bad...and the rain and clouds assisted us in seeing the first of many Irish rainbows that we would see! It was lovely...The Aran islands are a must see for anyone...and did I mention the blackberries???!!!

The islands...and for that matter...all of Ireland is simply rotten with blackberry plants...not just in a few places...I mean they are everywhere!!!  I couldn't hardly make it around without stopping to eat some!

We also saw a really old...small church on a hillside overlooking the township...very picturesque...

...OK...enough ....we hit the ferry...went to Galway...caught the bus to Shannon to meet my friend Emer...more on that in the next e-mail!

Doug