What a summer! Immediately after Dalton School’s graduation ceremony in June, Brittany and I rushed off to Europe. We left Seoul that night to Dublin, spent a couple days there, and then headed off to the west coast with my (Ryan’s) parents to do an 8-day walking tour of the Burren Way.
Our first day was spent on the long bus ride from Dublin to Liscannor, a small, picturesque town with a couple of restaurants and a few B&B’s. We nearly missed our stop and were let off the bus on the side of the road outside of the village, which was fortunate because it was just a short walk to our B&B. We checked in to our first hotel at Sea Haven B&B, then Brittany and I went on a run in the green Irish countryside to stretch our legs. It felt good to get out of the city. Big cities all start to feel a bit similar so it was the first time we really felt like we were in Ireland. On the way back from our run we stopped at Vaughan’s Anchor Inn to meet my folks for some tasty mushroom soup and mussels.
Since we were traveling with my parents, we did things a bit classier than we would usually travel and booked everything through Hillwalk Tours. This made our trip easy and comfortable, if not a bit pricey. As part of the arrangement, the B&B owners drive the walker’s luggage to the next stop each day. So instead of hauling our backpacking packs from town to town, we travelled with just lunch, water, and rain gear in our day packs.
Leaving Liscannor, we got a good view of the coastline and so many adorable cows. Picturesque houses, sea views, and sweeping farmland surrounded us as we headed on our way.
About an hour into the walk we reached the famous Cliffs of Moher (which many know as the Cliffs of Insanity in The Princess Bride or the cliffs Harry Potter travels to in The Half Blood Prince to find the locket horcrux).
The cliffs were insanely beautiful. Brittany stalled for 10 minutes at a time taking pictures and the 5 km never got monotonous. With each turn a new view of the cliffs loomed into view and it was just as gorgeous. The walk along the cliffs was incredible; it was disappointing that throngs of tourists stopped at the visitor’s center and walked out 2 minutes to get one shot of the cliffs before stopping at the cafe and getting back in the bus. Just a 5 minute walk in either direction from the visitor’s center found serene and rolling trails with only a few people crossing paths.
The cliffs are so iconic that taking photos felt a bit silly. At the same time they were so breathtaking that every moment is begging to be captured. The walk took a lot longer than necessary because we lingered over the scenery again and again.
The walk along the cliffs took most of the day (including a stop at the visitor’s center cafe for lunch), then we descended from the cliffs down into Doolin where we stayed at Doll’s Cottage. The proprietor was an extremely smart, interesting guy – not to mention a great cook – so I also recommend staying at his place if you are ever in the region.
Doolin is famous for its traditional music scene, so after running a few km and really getting worn out, we grabbed some food and then went for Guinness, whiskey, and traditional Irish music at Gus O’Connor’s Pub. And that was all in the first day.
The walking tour was an awesome way to travel. We had the chance to slowly ascend the cliffs, see the ruins of old castles, and enjoy the entire 5km length of the cliffs.