Thursday, May 20, 2010

Lords, Ladies and Cliffs – Day Twelve in Ireland

The Cliffs of Moher were carved by ice age glaciers over millions of years. These monstrous rock faces rise out of the Atlantic Ocean like colossal guards. Next year the iconic area could be chosen as one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature in an international poll.

I can definitely stand here (or in this case - write) before you and state that it is truly one of the greatest wonders ever birthed by Mother Earth. It deserves to win a spot as one of the seven wonders without a doubt. I have seen the Rocky Mountains and Niagara Falls - and although both are impressive and wild - this trumps them both.

The Cliffs of Moher possess a prehistoric quality. The cliffs are lined with seabirds that swoop in and out of the ocean breeze like tiny Pterodactyls. I found myself picturing massive sea beasts plowing through the waves along the base of the cliffs. It’s a pity that Nessie didn’t take up residence here instead of Scotland.

We walked past a sign that bluntly stated: Please do not go beyond this point. It was written in several languages and was covered in graffiti and stickers. It was evident that nearly all visitors ignored this message in order to experience the cliff’s view up close and personal.

A group of us sat on the edge of the cliff to attempt to grasp the power, and occasional vertigo, of the view. We often took the advice of our tour guide Joe by crawling to the cliff’s edge on our stomach’s to avoid chancing a spell of poor balance.

The second event of the day tried to induce wobbly knees and stumbling legs through a different method - mead and wine. We attended a medieval banquet at Bunratty Castle. The stout structure was built in 1425 in Bunratty village not far from Limerick.

The banquet began with drinks in an upper chamber of the castle. We listened to a harpist and violinist play arrangements from Handle and Schiller. The staff was dressed in period costumes and addressed patrons as lords and ladies.

The meal was served as four dishes. First, we were served a piping-hot, thick soup with brown bread. Next, we were brought spare ribs before the main course of chicken and vegetables. Finally, desert was presented, which consisted of a flan-like substance garnished in berries and mint.

The staff performed several songs including classics such as “The Wild Rover” and other Irish traditional pieces. These were great, however, this paled in comparison to Joe’s performance on the bus ride home. Joe’s rendition of the aforementioned song as well as “Molly Malone” had the entire bus chanting his name. It was a heartfelt send off from our personal leprechaun.

Thanks for the memories, Ireland. See you soon!

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