Tuesday, November 01, 2011
The Aran Islands
Another ring fort? I groaned. How many circles of stones do we need to see? But this one was on an island, Inishmore in the Aran Islands, and said to have a spectacular view. What the tour guide didn't say was how far UP you had to walk to get that view.
We arrived on the 10:30 ferry from Rossaveal and were met with a dozen or more vans and as many horse carts all clamouring for our attention. If it hadn't been so cold and drizzly, I'd have sworn we were in the Caribbean. We took the first van whose driver approached us and climbed in. For 10 euros each we were about to get a tour of the island.
The tour went something like this: "This is the grocery store. This is where we recycle. That's a house that caught fire and burned the thatched roof off. . ." There were only two significant places we stopped and one of those was the ring fort, Dun Aonghasa. He let us out and said we had two hours to explore, have lunch or a cup of tea, and do a little shopping (there were two tiny gift shops there).
We decided it might be prudent to have lunch first before we began the trek to the fort. The Cafe was quaint with a nice fireplace warming it up and making it cozy. The vegetable soup was delicious and fortified us. We were soon ready for our climb.
It took about 25 minutes to walk/climb to the fort stopping several times along the way to "take pictures"--my way of catching my breath. The fort was larger than the others we'd seen but this one certainly did have quite a view. We rested. Took pictures. Then looked at the return path. From this vantage point, it was all downhill. Thank goodness!
We killed a little time in the gift shops and right on time, our van showed up with our driver. The trip along the coastal road back to the ferry dock was pretty much like the first of our tour: "That's the school. That's the graveyard. That's where the seals would be if the tide was in. . ."
We arrived at the little town area about two hours before our scheduled return trip. Once we'd wandered through the sweater outlet, there wasn't much else to do. We found a cafe in an inn across from the ferry dock and stopped in for a very slowly sipped cup of tea. The ride back on the ferry was exhilarating. At least it was for me. The rest of our group fell asleep. I enjoyed the ride as the ferry literally surfed the big waves on the way back to mainland. It's my kind of surfing.