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June 3, 2003
Today, we had to leave Cappabhaile House, but not without a few more words with Conor who was cooking in the kitchen for our breakfast. Not only did we have to leave Cappabhaile House, but it was raining. When we woke, it was pouring down, but it had mostly let up by the time we got underway after breakfast. We were only a couple of miles on the other side of Ballyvaughn when Carolyn realized that she really wanted some Advil, and that all the Advil we had was packed in our luggage sitting at Cappabhaile House waiting for Cycle West to transport it to Doolin. I offered to ride back and pick it up, which Carolyn accepted. She was just going to sit and wait for my return, but I urged her to keep going, that I'd catch her soon enough. I dialed the speed up back to Cappabhaile House, got to our luggage before the Cycle West people had picked it up, found the Advil, and retraced my steps. I was pleasantly surprised at the distance Carolyn had made in my absence.
We followed along the coast road first west from Ballyvaughn, then roughly south as the coast turns past the lighthouse at Black Head. While it was a pretty ride, it was a bit chilly and the rain had picked back up so that it was pretty steady rainfall, and it wasn't long before we were soaked to the bone despite our gear. The 17 miles of coast road dragged on, and along the way we were passed by four German(?) women who sang out a cheery chorus of "Hello"s as they zipped past us.
Finally, as we crested the climb in from the coast toward Lisdoonvarna, we saw on our maps that we could take a more direct route to Doolin, our destination for the evening skipping Lisdoonvarna completely and by the time we came to that intersection, we gave it serious consideration. At that point, it was past 2:00 PM and we'd planned on a picnic lunch but there was no way we could figure out to do so in such a heavy rain. So, we decided to go on into Lisdoonvarna and have our main meal of the day there, and picnic for dinner. The suggested fare according to our itinerary was at the Roadside Tavern, and just as we're getting the bikes locked up, who should pull up but Fidelma from Cycle West! She'd found a new helmet that fit Carolyn very well, so she took Conor's son's helmet back to him, and the helmet issue was resolved once and for all. Just as we finish messing around with the helmets, the sun starts to break through the clouds and it looks to be a promising afternoon. Fidelma assures us that there will be a fire waiting for us in the Roadside Tavern, but doesn't stay long enough for us to confirm that. As we enter, we ask to sit by the fire, and the fellow who greeted us sat us by the fireplace, and proceeded to go about setting up a fire. He was new there though, having only recently moved to Ireland from the US following his Irish wife whose job had brought her back here. It was quite a sight having the newly arrived American cheerily but ineptly setting up a fire with instructions from the older Irish publican who all the while teased the American about a fire in the middle of summer! Nonetheless, it was quite welcome for us as we peeled off a couple of layers and hung them anywhere we could find to, and stuck our feet so close that we could see the steam rising off our socks! To really bring the warmth, we order a couple of whiskeys, this time trying the Connemara whiskey which is quite peaty and exactly what we needed at the time. We also get a basket of spicy chips and we each get tuna melt "baps" which are grilled, open-face tuna sandwiches on buns with cheddar and a small side salad. It was perfect. From trudging through the cold rain, to delicious food next to a fire, sipping whiskey. What a wonderful transition. We finished up "lunch" around 4:00 PM, and the final ride from Lisdoonvarna into Doolin is easy, sunny and pleasant.
|Various shots from our walking around near Doonmacfelim near Doolin|
Doolin has apparently had a real resurgence in the past couple of decades along with the revival of traditional Irish music, still we don't go into town proper, but check into our B&B for the night, Doonmacfelim house. Doonmacfelim house certainly had its work cut out for it as an encore to Cappabhaile and the hotel Merriman and unfortunately, it failed to keep up. Whoever assigned it its third star clearly did not have the same experience we did. It was perfectly acceptable accommodation, there were beds, hot water, etc. but just not what we'd come to expect from our tour. After showers and an in-room picnic, Carolyn and I head out and walk around a little bit. The day's ride had called for a trip out to the Cliffs of Moher and back, but after our morning, we decided to forgo that leg. Still, we got some fairly impressive views of the cliffs even from our little walk. We also came across some cows who came right up to the gate to greet us, and a pasture of bulls some of whom were struggling for dominance.
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