Another quick ireland update

Another quick post from Ireland.

Most of the biking would be best described by a single word, “Wet”.

The scenery has been fairly interesting, with lots of stone fences, hedges, sheep paddocks of all sorts, and lots of small towns. The traffic has been fairly intense but all the drivers have been quite nice and very friendly.

Outside of Ennis we spent some time exploring a small castle. The twins had lots of fun climbing the stairs and wandering around.

The view from the battlements was quite stunning.

The twins have enjoyed the travelling for the most part. They do get cranky after more than a couple of hours of riding in the trailer. When its raining hard things get a bit worse, as we have to batten down the hatches and it quickly gets all fogged up, taking away their view. The other major problem with the trailer in Ireland is the roads are almost always lined with hedges and since it sits so low to the ground the occupants cannot see much beyond the side of the hedge.

We also rented a child seat that goes on the rear rack of the bike. This allows a little more variety, letting one kid enjoy the trailer alone and the other the child seat.

The child seat is a major hit – the view from it is much, much better.

After Ennis we travelled though the burren which is a strange desolate rocky area. Its quite scenic, but very hilly and was quite a workout hauling the trailer with its occupants.

We stayed at several bed and breakfasts, hostels, and one night camping. Most of the places we stayed had character – for example the Kilfenore hostel came complete with a resident kitten.

Cats of all sorts seem to be everywhere in Ireland, much to the twins delight. On the Aran Islands we ran into a huge family of cats outside the one and only grocery store.

The Aran Islands was a very interesting place to visit – lots of old structures of all sorts and a number of very old church ruins.

The Aran Islands also had fantastic black berry picking, which kept the twins busy. They are now major black berry snobs – only the most ripe berries free of any defect or blemish are acceptable.

One of the bummers about biking Ireland is that there are lots and lots of small roads, which are only occasionally signed. When they are signed, life is still not simple – in sections of Ireland the signs are only in Gaelic, or in Gaelic and English with a different spelling of the place names than was on our Ordinance Survey maps. This led to lots of looking at standing around at intersections consulting maps and occasionally accosting the random bystander for directions. Fortunately everyone seemed quite used to this and where mostly quite good at giving useful directions.

Sheep – did I mention sheep? Sheep where everywhere.

For a place whose country side is mainly devoted to sheep production there did not seem to be a lot of sheep related road side attractions. We did stop at a small wool museum where the twins got to play with wool and wool spinning appliances.

The food in Ireland was a mixed bag, probably because we spent most of our time in rural areas. It quickly became apparent that, unlike our bike travels in Australia and New Zealand, trying the random meat related pastries available at gas stations and small grocery stores was a bad idea. The burgers where generally quite good, as was the soups. One thing that was a definite stand out was the bacon sandwich – apparently it is common to get a bread and bacon sandwich in Ireland. This was quite refreshing, as when I try to get a bacon and bagel sandwich at Lu-Lu’s bagel shop at home I am given a round of “Only bacon? Are you sure?” and once “That’s the weirdest thing I have every had anyone ask for.” Alas, the twins are major bacon high-graders, and often steal most of the bacon. We did find wonderful Indian and Chinese food, hurray!

That’s all for now!

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