Friday, March 30, 2012

Cliffs of Insanity

*This blog post is out of order, since we went to the cliffs the Thursday between Helen's birthday party and the weekend of St Paddy's Day. To make up to the out-of-order-ness it is full not only of epic cliffs, but also Princess Bride quotes.
"He didn't fall?!? INCONCEIVABLE!"
"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."  
I went with Katie and Emily (Grove Cityers) to the Cliffs of Moher while they were visiting from Italy where they are studying abroad. Since we didn't have a giant to carry us up the rock face on a rope, we took a bus. Although buses are not as cool, we did at least have our favorite driver -Martin- who we've now had on 4 tours by pure chance.

The first stop was at Allwee Cave where we got coffee and tea to help us wake up after our rather late night and early raising, plus a doughnut which was yummy, but nothing compared to Saturday-morning-market-doughnuts-from-Dan.  
Rain on my lens, and wind winning the battle
of the hood with my great travel buddy Emily
 "I don't suppose you could speed things up?" 
 "If you're in such a hurry, you could lower a rope or a tree branch or find something useful to do." 
"I could do that. I have some rope up here, but I do not think you would accept my help, since I am only waiting around to kill you."
"That does put a damper on our relationship."

We drove through some great Irish countryside and Connamara, then we arrived at the cliffs and managed to snap some photos before the fog set in and blocked the view. The cliffs are impressive and well worth being soaked by the rain and wind since we got a clear view for at least a little bit.

Unlike the Aran Islands, there are walls and warning signs abounding at the Cliffs of Moher. I liked the nice touch of a memorial plaque "To those who have lost their lives at the Cliffs" at the end of the path were all the "Danger" and "Do not enter" signs were ignored. Although the people-die-when-they-ignore-our-nice-warning-signs-memorial was mostly ignored as well. Don't worry we stayed safe though. I think our poor cameras were in the most danger with all the mist, fog, and rain honestly. They had to leave the safety of our raincoats for photos though, cause there were cliffs! They gave us some blurry photos as pay back, but in the end came through unscathed. 

There was a tower built a couple hundred years ago for the tourist to have a better view. Clever idea. Sadly there was no Man-In-Black or dueling Spaniards.  Cliffs of Insanity/ Cliffs of Moher are still wonderful and made me realize that it's been far too long since I watched The Princess Bride, so that has to be remedied. 
See mom I'm staying a good safe distance form the cliffs this time ^_^
After checking out the cliffs and tower we stopped in their new state of the art visitors center. It is almost impressive how much mascara you can get on your face when you have cliff winds and rain combined against you. And that is to say nothing of the hair situation. 

We were (very slightly!) late to met back at the bus, but our fellow tour-mates forgave us and we headed to a little pub for some warm food. We got yummy (and not food-poisonous) seafood chowder and some of the amazing hearty brown bread for lunch.

We stopped along the way back to Galway for some more photo ops. At the coast and one of the castles built right by the water around the 15th century. By the coast we also got some photos sitting on one of the huge boulders dropped there by the glaciers a long time before the 15th century.  

I have it on good authority that the Cliffs of Insanity are also amazing when you see them from the water, so I'm scheming a bit to see if I can work out a way to go back and see them from a boat as well.  The Cliffs of Moher (Irish Gaelic name)/Cliffs of Insanity (other name of awesomeness) were really fun to see and we had good weather --by Irish at least since it only actively rain on us for part of the day. And we were even mostly dried out by the time we made it back to Galway that evening. 

"You fell victim to one of the classic blunders - The most famous of which is never get involved in a land war in Asia - but only slightly less well-known is this: Never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line! Ha ha ha ha ha ha h..." 
Wonderful travel buddy, Kaite, in the Invincible-Tomato-Rain-Coat which was quite appreciated in the rain and mist 
Forgive the not good photo, we were too excited about eating to pose
When the three of us got back to Galway we met up with Monique and Star for an epic Girls Night. It started off with wolfing down six dozen wings at Scotty's and ended with eating two Tesco bins of ice cream while we watched Ocean's Eleven. Very very wonderful all around. I can't wait to visit Emily and Katie in Italy next!

"Once word leaks out that a pirate has gone soft, people begin to disobey you, and then it's nothing but work, work, work all the time."
"You mock my pain!"
"Life is pain, Highness! Anyone who says differently is selling something."

Monday, March 26, 2012

Sunshine on Galway Bay

It was remarkably sunny and warm yesterday (as well as today and the powers that be say it should continue for the rest of the week too -happydance-). So Star and I went down to the waterfront to soak up some vitamin D and read in the nice sunshine.

It was a perfect way to spend the afternoon. Wading in the water was great. As long as you stood still and let your feet sink into the sand it wasn't even too cold. Although the water was in fact pretty icy.

We also made couple of important discoveries while chilling in the knee-deep point of Galway Bay. First off and most exciting: that the pretty-little-blue-clam-thingy-shells that are all over the sand are skippable like a flat stone, despite the fact that they are neither stone nor particularly flat. Star was better at this shell-skipping-skill than I was, but I still got a couple or very nice skips.

Secondly and exciting in a significantly different way was our discovery  that when the tide is slowly coming in, the sand is not a particularly safe place to set one's shoes and camera. (At least not if one had some plan that involves the shoes and camera remaining, you know, dry.) This epiphany arrived at the exact perfect moment, leaving us not only with non-soaking-shoes, but also with still-working-and-not-salt-water-logged-cameras.  We were quite quite glad. And that meant we could then sit and read our library books in peace, without having to mourn our foolishness. Cause it could have been pretty sad.
After good books and nice rays of happiness from that not-too-often-seen-ball-of-glowing-burning-gas-in-the-sky, we made a yummy dinner and watched the first episode of the new Titanic mini-series by the Downton Abby guy. Then we may have possibly followed up that classy show with the oh-so-classy Gordie Shore. In case you ever wondered the Jersey Shore would not be any better at all if it was about a bunch of fake-tanned British kids instead, it might even be worse. (And it also makes you miss American TV censorship laws a little bit). 

On our way back from the water we stopped to read the poster at the end of Shop Street. It was a post from this site: about reasons to love Galway. They hit on some of the great ones like doughnuts from the St Nick's weekend market, Griffin's Bakery, walking along the Salt Hill prom and talking about great books with friends. I agree wholeheartedly. The poster/ post ends by calling Galway a little old town "that gives little, but in that gives a chance for stuff to happen in the gentlest ways". Yup yup, sounds about right. I agree and I love Galway as well.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

big brother's b-day

Happy Birthday to the bestest big brother ever!
He's got brilliant taste in women as well :)
It's my big bro's birthday and since he is super amazing so here are a few reasons why my brother is so cool. Since he's turning 27 (so old!) I've made a list of seven things, they're are in no order besides what I typed them up in:
--> Comic Nights! Wednesdays we have yummy food and new comic books released that week.  It's one to the things I miss about home, because it is so fun.
--> Shakespeare Plays! My senior year in high school we went to see Love Labor's Lost at the Shakespeare Theatre Company in DC. Since season subscriptions for young-people-who-don't-have-gray-hair are significantly cheaper we get to see lots and lots of plays (and we've even recruited more playgoers now ^_^) Recently  we even managed to skip the whole finish-eating-delicious-food-and-run-through-dc-to-the-theater-minutes-before-the-curtain-raises-thing. Although there was a certain charm to that as well.
--> Star Wars! I could practically recite all of the original (a.k.a. good) Star Wars films since they were to my brothers what LOTR was to me (a.k.a. a slight obsession when young). A foundation of lightsabers, spaceships, and the force is a good nerdy thing to have.
--> Ren Fest! Continuing the nerdy theme, my big brother (as well as most of his marvelous friends) not only go the Renaissance Festival, but also dress in impressive outfits. He owns not one, but two kilts now -cause he's just that cool. (Or perhaps the kilt salesman is just that persuasive)
--> Ireland! Continuing that kilt note, he is so fantastic that he not only invited me, but he also convinced our parents to allow me to fly out to Ireland and meet up with him to travel when I was only 15 and he was 19. It was very very grand. We saw a ton, had lots of fun, and only had one candy-bars-and-pop-from-a-train-station-vending-machine-dinner. Biking around Galway was one of my favorite days (Galway clearly made a great impression on me.)
--> Japan! A few years after Ireland, our little brother Aj joined us as well on a trip to Japan. At the airport and such they would ask if we were meeting our parents there or something, "Nope it's just the three of us" And the three of us had a super great time. Even with the uncanny ability of every landmark to be wrapped in scaffolding before we arrived, we found amazing things like a mountain with monkeys with our "Let's check out the interesting shapes on the map we can't read" strategy of exploring.
--> Europe! After my semester aboard in Rome, he flew out and met up with me in Paris. We had an epic trip stopping in France, Spain, Austria and Italy. Our adventures included lots of jazz clubs, yummy food, great sites, a Euro Cup celebration, and of course a good deal of scaffolding.   
Happy Birthday! I look forward to many more adventures this year! ^_^

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

At St Brendan's Ave

Happy Birthday Helen!! 

I have two wonderful Irish housemates, Helen and Niamh, along with my amazing American roommate Andi. Last week Helen turned 21 so there was quite the party at our house. Despite the fact that 21 is a random birthday which doesn't provide any new privileges, it's still a significantly big deal here.

In addition good-old-and-super-yummy-and-wonderfully-chocolaty- birthday-cake, Helen received twenty-one kisses from the guests, cause that's what an Irish birthday earns you.  And then in addition to that, Helen's cousins decided she needed to be tossed  twenty-one time as well. Hilarious, although not easy to photograph.  

The birthday shenanigans went on well into the night and I think the earliest any of us went to bed was about the same time as I would arrive at work to open at Starbucks. Also known as roughly 5:30. Or rather half-five as they would say with their wonderful Irish accents. And sleep is overrated right? No really it's not at all, I love sleep. But epic birthday parties are completely worth it. 

The Irish president is secretly a little leprechaun in not-much-of-a-disguise, you can see right through it can't you?

There were plenty of balloons and decorations for birthday and we also have our normal decorations of candles in wine bottles and a  stolen poster of the Irish president Higgins.                                                                                                                                 The first thing Niamh's mums's said when she came in the other day was "Oh I see you Michael D is here." Because President Higgins is  known to everyone as Michael D.                                                                                                                               Now we have successfully (or at least mostly) recovered from the crazy birthday shindig followed in short order by St Paddy's Day. We got a letter from our landlord saying the house needs to be clean and tidy for an inspection tomorrow. Which equals a lot of cleaning and tidying today. So now our cute little house on St Brendan's Avenue is all shiny.   I haven't posted any pictures of my house really so I've included a couple. Figured I should post one of my room while it is brilliantly clean and tidy.                                                                                                         My comforter (aka duvet) was left by the sweet Aussie girl who studied aboard in Galway last semester and lived here. And that stack of books were all one or two euro finds from the best-est-book-store-ever-Charlie-Bran's. Although typically it would be strongly advised against, using the internet to move in with complete strangers in a foreign city, turned out incredibly well for me and I'm quite quite glad. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

St. Paddy's Day

Since St Patrick's fell on a Saturday, Star, Monique, and I started the day out by getting fresh doughnuts from the wonderful doughnut man at the St. Nick's market. After a quick stop at the 2 Euro store for some green goodness we went up to watch the parade.  
Adorable Irish boy watching parade

There were all sorts of super-cute-dimpled-Irish-children both watching and marching in the parade.  It was fun to see all the little ruby teams and youngsters with their tiny hurlers for hurling.

It was interesting to see how diverse Galway actually is with everything from the Russian Cultural Society to the Ghana Community participating in the parade, since Galway generally appears rather vanilla compared to DC and all.

Adorable Irish boy in parade 
There were also a couple of political leaning parade participants the best being the bank-zombies. Because clearly all parades should involve some walking-dead.

And the Garda / police chief with a bright-green-and-already-impressive-mustache put my green streaks to shame.

There was all sorts of green all over in honor of St Paddy's Day. I was informed that St Patrick can be shortened to Paddy, but St. Patty's Day is not acceptable. Patty's = not a thing. Paddy = proper Irish nickname.

After the parade we headed over to  our Irish friends' flat and started celebrating with them.  They even fed us a full Irish breakfast. And I not only tried, but actually enjoyed the black pudding. You should be impressed by my adventurous-traveler-ness which is willing to eat things like black pudding even after I'm fully aware of what goes into making them. They turn out pretty yummy though so it's grand. Sure.

This year there happened to be a rugby match between Ireland and England on St. Patrick's Day so we all watched it.  Then Ireland lost terribly (as in a 29 to 9 level of terribly) so there was a lot of angry Irishmen by the end.  But my favorite part was definitely the beginning, because everyone sang along with the Irish national anthem and then when God Save the Queen started they sang the Irish national anthem again much louder and in Irish to drowned out the English anthem. There was lots of drinking and a good bit of music for the rest of the day and then everyone got Monday off as a bank holiday to boot. 
The flat's pet robot Rad was decked out for Paddy's Day with a pot of
gold, Guinness, a hurling ball, and some green and orange too.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Dublin Part 2: Down hill

Jessica had a short lists of things to do while in Ireland which included milking a cow and rolling down a hill. Despite our best efforts we never found her a cow to milk and the only hill we found was more mud than grass so she didn't roll down it.  However, to make up for that our trip decided to go down hill incredibly quickly on her behalf. As illustrated by this gorgeous picture: 
On Sunday, after our great time at the Guinness Storehouse and Jameson Distillery we got back to our hostel and the surprises started. When we went to grab our bags from the luggage room, Jamie's was not there. Her huge bright green bag with two weeks worth of everything - just not there anymore. Which was a shame, because we left it there very much hoping it would wait where we left it. 

This was severely not ok. We spoke sternly to the poor guy behind the desk, who called his manager and apologized a ton, because nothing like that had ever happened while he was working and he wasn't sure what to do besides call his manager and apologize a ton.  He said there was a large group that left that afternoon who might have accidentally taken her bag with them to Cork.  Since Jamie's bright-green-bag was either stolen or inadvertently on its own adventure in County Cork, we figured there wasn't much we could do besides go find some dinner while the poor guy behind the desk tried to get a hold of the group and his manager.
This quote of Jamie's from dinner along with our jokes about
 e-coli apples became significantly less funny as the night wore on
We passed up a couple of very crowded touristy places and a restaurant with an hour and a half wait. Jessica made a passing (but also prophetic) comment that perhaps we shouldn't trust a place which was so empty when the other places were so busy. We should have paid lots and lots more attention to her brilliant insight.  Turns out she was entirely correct. 
Jamie and I both got yummy-seeming soup with our dinners
It looked better than this picture, but looks can be deceiving 

 We had a 6 girl room at the hostel, but luckily no one else was in our room and it was just the three of us. After dinner Jamie and I rapidly went from fine to really-really-not-fine. Not-fine of the throwing-up-and-worst-fever-and-chills-of-my-life variety.  It was not fun. I puked a few time until my fever broke around 3am, but Jamie was sick all night long. Jessie was lucky enough not to get sick, even though she tried our soup. She was super awesome and even brought us juice. And getting said juice for us involved holding hands with the other-guy-who-worked-behind-the-desk-over-night-and-didn't-speak-English-all-that-well.  We very much appreciated her effort.
You should very much appreciate the lack of vomit in this picture,
besides the bunk beds and sick girls it was the defining characteristic of the room  
In the morning Jamie was still in no state to fly, so we canceled her flight and went to get Jessica to the airport.  Which involved running from the hostel to the bus stop.  It was raining (this is Ireland after all) and that resulted in significantly-slick-cobblestone-sidewalks. Which in turn resulted in me going from running to flat on said cobblestone with great speed. Which in turn resulted in a good number of huge bruises on my knees and hip. It was not super fun.
Despite our best efforts and speedy running. And despite the fact that the bus driver most definitely saw us and our running.  Mr.Meany McMeanPants the bus driver motioned at us then drove away anyway.  It was a cut off type I'm-not-going-to-be-nice-and-let-you-board hand motion despite the fact that it was exactly 8:45 when we ran up. And the bus was suppose to leave at 8:45. 

So we took a taxi instead and got Jessie to the airport on time.  Then I headed back and we got Jamie a toothbrush and some helpful things like that which were still in her bright-green-and-not-in-Dublin-with-us-bag. It turns out her bag was indeed on its own little trip to Cork, having hitched a ride with Mr. McAbsentminded-group-leader. Her bag was sent back and she got another night for free at the hostel and was able to catch the flight home the next day. I got home and slept a ton more. So it ended happily . . . or at least better ...if not happily. Jamie's opinion of Dublin went back down for sure. While it was certainly an adventure, it wasn't not one I'm eager to repeat at any point soon. Or ever. I'm good with not repeating it ever.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Dublin Part 1: Guinness and Jameson

Jamie and Jessica and I spent Saturday hitting all the highlights of Galway from the fresh doughnuts and the Saturday morning market to the Galway Museum and adorable shops on Shop Street. Then the three of us headed to Dublin Sunday morning.
Traveling with sisters is a special sort of adventure
We visited the Guinness and Jameson Factories. First off was the Guinness Storehouse which was great. A lot of it was about the process making Guinness which was interesting. The exhibits were quite well laid out which impressed me more due to my public history classes (Did you know people tend to lay out/ walk through exhibits differently depending on which side they drive on?)  My favorite fact was that Aurthur Guinness signed a 9,000 year lease when he began his brewery. Impressively cocky. I also love that Guinness uses two-thirds of all the Barley grown in Ireland and how much of the world's Guinness is drunk by the tiny island of Ireland.
We all successfully poured our own pints of Guinness

And then we enjoyed said pints of Guinness
 It also entertained me that they were having people join in on their St Patty's Day Party in order to try and set a world record. Since it is a Guinness Book of World Records shouldn't they just be able to insert themselves whenever they want? Wouldn't that be one of the perks of being the people who create the book?

We then headed to the Jameson Distillery. Since their tours are guided we had time to kill so we browsed the gift shop a bit then got ourselves Irish coffee/hot whiskey. Super tasty.
A year old, three year, five, ten and eighteen years old whiskey
showing  with different levels of evaporation 

The evaporated amount of the barrels of whiskey is referred to as "the angels' portion".  The idea of tipsy-little-angels skimming whiskey out of the barrels entertained me.
Since it was a trade passed from father to son they had lots of nicknames to keep them all straight
I wonder how the last Kavanagh boy there got his nickname, seems like it would be quite well suited to Anthony Weiner   
Our tour was fun and Jamie was even chosen to be one of the taster at the end of the tour. The tasters were given Jameson, Jack Daniels (the world's most popular whiskey), and a scotch to compare.  Jamie Lyn fittingly liked the Jameson the most.

The tours were really fun and Jamie even revised her low opinion of Dublin. Dun-dun-dun... [ominous music cue]
To be continued.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Connemara and Kylemore Abbey

On Friday Star and her roommate Monique joined Jamie, Jessie, and I on a day trip to Connemara.  Taking a bus to a couple miles from Kylemore Abbey cost 14euro, but taking a bus tour to lots of places and right to the Abbey only cost 15euros, so we took the bus tour and it was well worth it. Along with great commentary and some crazy Irish music we got to stop off at some beautiful spots to enjoy the Connemara scenery.
The Connemara region is where a lot of Irish movies were filmed like The Quiet Man. (Which is now top of my list of movies I need to watch while I'm here, along with The Field and The Wind that Shakes the Barley because those have been recommended to me by Irish friends.)
Knocking on the Quiet Man's door 
In addition to sites from the film, such as the cottage and the bridge and other things I will appreciate much more once I've seen the films we saw breath taking Irish countryside.
The mountains are mostly barren and very rocky with lots of sheep wandering around.  Our bus driver said he has never hit one yet, even though he has had close calls since the sheep pretty much roam wherever they want.  The rocky landscape also means the super cute Connemara Ponies are quite sure-footed and great jumpers.
Kylemore Abbey was built by Mitchell Henry in the 1860s for his wife Margaret as a honeymoon gift. (Note to future husband: You are welcome to follow suit). It's right at the foot of the mountains with the lake and amazingly beautiful Irishness. There is a Victorian Walled Garden as well which has been restored in the past few years.  As cool as it was though, its well-trimmed-perfected-shaped-and-trimmed-ness was not really as charming as the basically-over-grown-and-very-enchanted-seeming-Rock-Close-garden-deal-at-Blarney-Castle.  In a lot of ways it captured more of the Henry's British roots than the local Irish charm. 
Still a really pretty garden, just not an overly Irish-looking one
When his wife Margaret died of Nile Fever while they were on a trip in Cairo, Mitchell Henry was heartbroken and built a Neo-Gothic chapel in her memory. It's a short (and beautiful) walk down the lake from the Castle-turned-Abbey. After a few generations in the 1920s the family sold Kylemore to Benedictine nuns who turned it into an Abbey and ran a school for girls for many years. Can I just point out how much I want to go to high school in a castle? In mountains! On a lake! In Ireland! In a castle!!! I might even consider becoming a nun if I got to live in a gorgeous abbey like this.
The nuns who took over at Kylemore were super hardcore. As in their abbey in Belgium was bombed and destroyed near the beginning of World War One the hard-core-Benedictine-nuns grabbed their few things and left on foot then walked for days until they bumped into some Red Cross workers who helped them get to England. Then they purchased Kylemore and began the school and tours.  It's a particularly wonderful place to tour when one has recently started watching Downton Abbey which is a particularly wonderful show.
My knee was doing its very best to communicate extreme dislike for me
so I'm slightly slanted in all of the photos from that day.
Kylemore Abbey and the Connemara were phenomenal and it was fun to see them while Jamie and Jessica were visiting, even if it lacked any cows to milk or hills to roll down (at least hills that were more grassy and less pure muddy). 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Aran Islands with Jamie and Jessie

After the semester in Rome with Thomas More sophomore year, I traveled around with Jamie. With her DK Eyewitness Travel Book for Europe and a little too much tuna we had great adventures.  Jamie (Lyn) and her sister Jessica went to Germany and then came to visit Ireland. I met them at the train station and we got fish and chips from McDonagh's (the bestest) and then we went for a pint and tried to find some Irish music.  Using my roommate's wonderful DK Eyewitness Travel Ireland book (I seriously love those things) we decided on visiting the Aran Islands the next day. 
     The ferry ride over was very bouncy though. Very very choppy. And the Dramamine was safely sitting at home still.  But hey, puking on Irish strangers/your friends/off the back of a boat is an experince everyone should have at least once right? I'm sure it is on some bucket list of things-to-do-when-traveling right? Right? No? Oh oops I must have been mistaken then...
     Anyway after our -ahem- adventurous ferry ride we made to the beautiful Aran Island of Inis Mor (Irish for the big island, oh so clever)  Renting bikes was almost entertainingly easy: we each paid the old Irishman 10euros and he handed us a bike. Then we left. That was it. No ID, no time it needed to be back, no helmets, no locks, no deposit, and there was nothing on the bikes to identify them as his. Although I suppose it is a small island so you couldn't go too far with them.
Took this impressively-not-crooked photo while riding a bike
Biking through the amazingly-Irish-and-very-beautiful scenery was great.  Although there were nearly as many hills as there were little stone walls. Which was a ton. It seems to me that Aran Islanders just enjoy building stone walls. The majority of them were too close together and too random shaped to be fields or yards, they seemed to have the same purpose as Frost's Mending Wall: just to be built. Peddling up the bizillionth hill with way-too-fast vans passing you on the wrong side was almost enough to make one reconsider the choice to bike instead of taking one of the van or bus tours.  It was actually really fun though.

Great soup and brown bread and tea and scones and a fireplace to boot!

We got a yummy lunch at an adorable cafe then found a tiny shop owned by an wonderful old Irish woman sitting behind the counter knitting away making a sweater. Jamie found a great hat-- in the same color as the Sarah Jessica Parker's hat from the lil ol' lady's shop, she was quite proud to tell us that Steven Spielberg had been one of her costumers as well.  She also had two very exciting pieces of information for us: that the ferry is always calmer going back the other direction and that there's another road closer the coast that is far less hilly. Excitement all around.

 Then we left the bikes at walked the rest of the way up to DĂșn Aonghasa, a stone fort that's thousands of years old.  Can't imagine that anyone would have ever dared to try taking that fort cause it's pretty well situated.  It's built right on the cliff so it's got stunning views of the cliffs and waves. The highest point of the cliffs is over 300 feet (But totally safe mom! Honest! No need to worry ^_^ Really...something like that) 
 We got some great photos (and were very very careful by the edge, don't worry).  It was a beautiful day (it barely rained on us as all and that's practically sunny in Irish terms). Because we stopped for lunch and at the knitting shop first we had the fort to ourselves once we got up there. Then we had plenty of time to bike back along the non-hilly-road and check out lots of Aran sweaters before the ferry left.
Jessie also played fetch with a RedBull can and this awesome sheepdog
The Aran Islands are definitely worth the trip, especially since the ferry, bus, and bikes didn't add up to cost very much.  Inis Mor is gorgeous and peaceful and very very Irish. I very much enjoyed it.