Wednesday, July 6–Doolin, Co Clare

Driving around town; boat tour to the Cliffs of Moher and back; walking all over the Cliffs with an OK lunch there and finding a sweatshirt and some music CDs; lunch and some more CDs back near the pier; dinner at the Chevril restaurant at the Doolin Hotel; a pint and some live trad music at Fitz's, also at the hotel

Suantrai House B&B

Black VW Passat sedan



I'm actually typing these notes up in two sections, which I haven't done yet this trip. Although I've had a couple of days when I've spent time back in my room in the middle of the day, I didn't start typing my notes until just before going to bed on those days either.

I couldn't figure out how to get the water warm in the shower this morning, so I had to get dressed and go downstairs for breakfast so I could ask someone first. Although the handle for the shower has a red part and a blue part indicating which is hot and which is cold, there's nothing to indicate you need to move the end of the handle to the direction you want. I'd say this shower is only OK–plenty of hot water, crap water pressure, room enough to turn around, nowhere handy to put your stuff except all the way down on the floor of the shower stall.

Breakfast was quite good, though.

There's more to the small town of Doolin than I saw when I drove in yesterday or when I was wandering around on foot later. When I went past Suantrai, my B&B, heading to catch the tour boat to the Cliffs of Moher, I discovered that there's quite a few buildings down at the turn off down to the pier to including a small area with a café, a chocolate shop, a records shop, bookstore and craft shop and one of the four main pubs here in town.

The weather this morning wasn't great but it wasn't terrible when we left–grey and overcast–and although it didn't ever get terrible it did get worse in the form of a light drizzle. The ride down to the Cliffs was rather choppy. I was a bit angry that they seemed to have sold more tickets than there were seats on the boat because for the entire trip the view ahead of me from where I was sitting was the backs of the ten people standing in front of me,. It was kind of amusing to watch them hanging on to the railings for dear life with both hands, though. There was a patch to my left where I had a clear view and no one could stand directly to my right so that was OK–I knew that coming back I'd be able to see what I'd missed on the way out. The view of the Cliffs from the sea is amazing and worth the trip, but probably more enjoyable on the rare sunny day here on the Irish Atlantic coast.

The Garmin sat nav took me on a narrow, winding road from the Doolin pier out to the Cliffs. The visitors center there is new since I was there ten years ago, and is built into the side of the hill to maximize usable space and minimize visual impact and is quite well done. It looks like something you'd find in the Shire or in Wind in the Willows. The first thing I did was find the restaurant where I had a mediocre meal.

Since today I didn't have to worry about when my bus left, I had time to wander all over the place. When you stick to just the approved, paved paths it doesn't take all that long to go to the three main viewpoints, though. Just like on my visit ten years ago, I saw plenty of people heading out on the unimproved paths. There's actually a designated walkway from the town of Liscannor to the South, past the Cliffs and on to Doolin.

I of course stopped into the music store at the Cliffs and bought my first CDs of the trip. I asked the staff to recommend some by musicians living in the area.

I followed the official signs from the Cliffs back to Doolin, and those brought me back to the main street a little towards the pier than my B&B but that was OK, since I decided to see if I could find somewhere to park so I could check out the area better than just driving through it again, and there was. I walked up the road to the corner of the turnoff, where's there's a restaurant and a B&B, and then back down towards where I'd left my car. I was just heading into the small café when a bunch of young tourists, many of whom seemed to be German, also went in. It's a rather nice little place and they bake a range of their own pastries so I had a cheesecake and an Australian ginger beer. I also went into the small record store, and asked the guy behind the counter to recommend some CDS by more local musicians, and I of course bought some. I also stopped in at the small chocolate & candy store, and bought a slab of raspberry fudge which is awesome.

I was back here in my room before 6 PM and have been just hanging out since then. It's now after 8 PM, and time to go find somewhere for dinner and try to listen to some more music later.

Tonight I went to have dinner at Chervil, the restaurant attached to the Hotel Doolin just down the street from my B&B. It's a lovely place, the food was very good and the staff were friendly and helpful but the service was much slower than it should have been. It was just after 10 PM when I finished having dinner and paying my bill, and theoretically the restaurant had closed at 9. I went straight through to Fitz's, the bar attached to the hotel since I thought I remembered seeing a sign advertising free live music and I was right. There was a woman on flute & penny whistle, a guy on guitar, and a woman who sang and played the fiddle. I managed to find a place I could stand and (mostly) see the musicians and was there for about 45 minutes.

Something I learned long ago is that I love great pubs, and love great music, but a pub is often not the best place to go to listen to music, and small Irish pubs are no exception.

Ennis is only about half an hour's drive from here in Doolin. I think I'll head the other direction at first and stop by the Doolin Cave, then go to Kilfenora with the Burren Centre, a castle, and cathedral and Corofin with the Burren National Park and Dysert O'Dea archaeological center on the way to Ennis.

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