Let’s be honest – I was nervous. I get car sick quite easily, and we’d already been driving for hours on the narrow, winding roads that characterize Ireland. A boat trip? On the ocean? I was certain that pure craziness had compelled me to book this boat excursion to see the Cliffs of Moher seaside, instead of from the top of the Cliffs (although seeing them from the top, well, that is nausea-inducing, too).
But soldier on I must, since we’d booked the boat trip. And really, to see the Cliffs of Moher in a new light on our Very First Day in Ireland would be very special. So. We picked up our tickets and walked past the ticket office for a long view of the Cliffs. The pathway of enormous, craggy rocks required great concentration, and then all of a sudden we were at the water’s edge, wary of sprays, totally entranced with the view. After a while, jet lag set in and we headed back to Dubhlinn House B&B for a quick nap. I know, top jet lag tip – stay awake while it is sunny out. This day was overcast and grey, and I was too tired to breathe. Needs must.
Post-nap, post-Dramamine, we drove through Doolin (quintessential Ireland: colored houses and tiny winding roads), parked on the aforementioned rocks, and waited for our boat. We were one of the last to arrive, so did not grab the coveted spots atop the boat, but settled down on the rear deck. That was ok with me – a lower center of gravity, closer to the water, was ideal for my nerves (and stomach). Hold on tight to your spot at the rail with both hands, so as not to be tossed overboard.
And we headed out. The swells tossed the boat, there was a strong smell of gas – but the view. Oh, the view. As the boat nudged southward, the Cliffs of Moher looked even more ancient, majestic, imposing than I’d seen in photos. But here’s the funny thing – up close? You see the bird droppings, and remember the cliff-climbing scene from Princess Bride (shot here), listen to flocks of seagulls, soak in the salty air. It’s much more real than in photos – indeed majestic, but also shining in the sun and forbidding in the clouds, waves, gulls – a feast for the senses..
Did you know that there are HOUSES perched right along those cliffs? There are also thin rocky beaches at the foot of the cliffs, where rocks have calved (like glaciers), and where ocean detritus washes up. Showing the intrepidity of nature, moss grows where it can, tinting parts of the Cliffs green. And I hadn’t imagined the diversity of the Cliffs – different shapes, colors, strata, outcroppings, birds, and the ever-present waves – pounding against the rock, waterfalling back to the ocean in streams.
Near where the trail on top of the Cliffs runs out (and it’s a great idea, to experience the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Centre), the boat turned around and we headed back. Did we perch at the edge of the boat, soaking it all in on the return trip, or head inside, jaded? What would you have done? Indeed.