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Ireland Day 11: Adventures on Inishmaan

rain 70 °F

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Our ferry to Inishmaan, or Inis Meáin in Irish. The ferry is Banríon na Farraige, which means "Queen of the Sea." Daniel thought we were safe from any kind of ferry accident, as reporters all over the world wouldn't be able to pronounce the boat's name.
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The journey from Rossaveel to Inishmaan was beautiful, but a little bit rough. We were both extremely tired, and we had some coffee to try to wake up.
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When we got to the pier on the island, there was no evidence of a village and no transportation to the sites we wanted to tour. There were only about five people who got off of the ferry with us, as the rest of the people on board were heading to Inisheer. Daniel had been to Inisheer and Inishmore before, and wanted to tour Inishmaan as he had not seen it. It is said to be the least populous and the least touristy of the islands, and thus far it was meeting both expectations. Soon, a man in a red van sped onto the pier and rolled down his window. "I'm the taxi to the village. Five euro each."
At that moment, a woman in a smaller car also sped to the pier, jumped from her car, and began speaking in Irish to the man. She then told us that she would take us to the village. We got in her car, as did an older man and an older woman. Indicating the other woman, our driver said "This lady will tell you all about the history of the islands. She's Dutch. I can drop you at her tea house if you want."
We were dropped off at the tea house and had a nice conversation with the Dutch woman. She lives on Inishmaan, having studied Irish in college and fallen in love with the island on her first visit. We purchased some tea and pastries, and a map to show us other things to see on the island. It was one of those surreal experiences where you are not quite sure if it is real, hence our confused expressions.
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A donkey outside a house on the island as we walked away from the tea house.
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Small fields, houses, and religious shrines: common sights around the village as we walked.
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Some of the island's scenery.
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Us on the island. It was absolutely beautiful, and we were glad that we came to this island as it was incredibly quiet and peaceful.
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The ruins of the Church of the Seven Sons of the King. The information plaque explains what it is. It was an interesting ruin that we would have missed or assumed was just part of the stone wall work if it hadn't been signposted.
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A green water pump, similar to the one in Mountcharles but without any plaque about its history.
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The Church of the Immaculate Conception, which is the current Catholic Church on the island. It has Harry Clarke Studio stained glass windows, and an altar made by Patrick Pearse's father (which was originally installed in the old church then moved to this one when it was built). The church is beautiful.
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Some of the Harry Clarke windows. They really look different from other stained glass windows.
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The Pearse altar, some more of the windows, and the crucifix above the altar. This church is quite arresting: every part of it seems to draw your attention and make you think. It's amazing that such a beautiful church with such great artistry exists on such a remote and unpopulated island.
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Some pictures near Teach Synge, a small house where John Millington Synge and other authors and notable people went to learn Irish. We had an excellent tour with the owner of the house, a woman whose family owned the house and hosted Synge and the others. It was where the Gaelic Revival began, in some sense, and from that house spread new interest in the language and culture of Ireland before the English conquest.
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Us about to climb to the fortress.
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Dún Chonchúir, the fortress in the background, is a huge ring fort and very similar to Dún Aonghasa on Inishmore. It has extraordinarily thick walls, and is almost perfectly circular. The huge mound of stone in the background of these pictures is the fortress.
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Our first attempt to reach the fortress. We followed signs towards it and then cut through fields and pastures to the wall. We reached the wall, but there was no entrance. Daniel climbed the side of the wall, and saw how thick the walls were. It is an incredible fortress: reaching it is difficult, and once you reach it the walls are extremely difficult to get over. In an actual battle, we imagine that it would be nearly impossible to conquer if defended: it would be impossible to reach if there were archers or javelin throwers on the walls.
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Of course, the fortress does still have some fierce defenders: this mother cow and her calf! We found the correct path: there were small yellow arrows that are easy to miss pointing the way. The path cut through one pasture where a mother cow was with her calf. Daniel thought there must be another path: they wouldn't advise people to get that close to a mother-and-baby animal. Catherine thought that it would be fine: after all, cows are domesticated animals. We started through the pasture, and Daniel reached the next style before Catherine. He saw from there that the calf was chasing Catherine, and told her to hurry. She ran, and the calf continued to chase her. Unfortunately, now we were closer to the fortress. The vicious creature was between us and the village!
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Information and a close-up of the fortress.
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Inside the fortress! It is a huge area within, and feels very protected from the outside. The design almost makes it so that the outside world seems far away: it is quiet and sheltered. It was getting late and our taxi back to the pier was going to meet us at the pub in the village at exactly four, so we had to head down sooner than we would have liked.
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Views from outside the fort.
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Teach Synge, photographed as we walked back to the village. The owner didn't want pictures taken inside, and she explained that people are often disrespectful in their picture-taking on the islands, acting as if everything is so intriguing and quaint and different and photographing people who are just going about their lives. She said it was okay to photograph the plaque and the outside of the house, so we did.
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Journeying back to the village.
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The pub. We arrived here a little earlier than expected, and were able to order a lunch and a couple drinks before the taxi arrived. Everyone in the pub seemed to be facing the same way, having quiet conversations in Irish while eating or drinking. We sat near two men who engaged us in conversation, though it was quiet and somewhat halting. We learned some interesting facts about the island and its history. Eventually the taxi arrived: it was a different person we hadn't seen before, but he said that the cost was still five euro per person. We got to the pier and waited in a small enclosure as it was starting to rain. We struck up a conversation with a woman who was keeping a blog and walking the Wild Atlantic Way, and waited while several other ferries came before Banríon na Farraige arrived. Finally, our ferry came and we got on our way back to Rossaveel.
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The Claddagh, where we started our Galway Pub Crawl for the evening.
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Dinner, including margaritas, at Seven in Galway's Latin Quarter.
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This street performer stood on a board balanced on a cyllander, juggled axes and machetes, and put a tennis racket all the way over his body.
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Walking around Galway after dinner, we come upon this large square which is well appointed and nice looking. It is Eyre Square, but Daniel doesn't recognize it because last time he was here it was completely under construction, and a chain-link fence surrounded the entire square area. Only the streets were open. Now it has several small kiosks within the square, and banners of the "tribes" (Anglo-Norman families) of Galway. It was wonderful to be here together.
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Some drinks at John Keogh's-The Lock Keeper pub. The bartender was an expert on Irish beers and whiskies, and the drinking habits of the Irish people. It was an interesting place and a nice conversation about social trends. And also, some good drinks.
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We ended our night at The Crane Bar. Daniel went here as well on his 21st birthday, so it seemed like we should go there. They have traditional music every night. When we went in, there was no music, but there was a persistent thumping coming from above. We went upstairs, and there was a woman doing Irish dance while the band played a song. We found a place to sit with an Irish couple and two Danish men who were touring the country. We listened to the music and had a nice conversation: the Danes were quite interested in drinking, and were planning to go to a beer festival in America later this year. The band played a mixture of Irish, American, and British songs, and we had a wonderful time.

Posted by danielcatherine 11:57 Archived in Ireland Tagged taxi cow tea pub ferry fortress dutch pub_crawl calf inishmaan aran_islands irish_language synge Comments (0)

Day 12 - It Isn't Manageable

rain 60 °F

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Started off the day with a Traditional Latin Mass in Victoria. It was very nice, and the church was simple but pretty.

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After that we walked along the beach, at a spot suggested by our host. It was beautiful.

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One of the many horse-drawn carriage tours in Victoria going by.

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Eat More: an interesting toffee candy.

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Some views from the ferry. There are a lot of bald eagles in the islands between Vancouver Island and the mainland. At one point, we saw about ten of them flying around near one tree.

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Our last ferry ride for this trip!

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Driving in to Vancouver.

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Our studio in Vancouver. It is yet another great place found through Airbnb.

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View of the city from our room. This is our first real "city center" accommodation, as our other places have all been rural or suburban.

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Nando's Chicken. Apparently this is a chain, but we don't have them in California so it is a "new thing" to try. It is a Portuguese-African restaurant. When we asked about the spicy rice to determine how spicy it is, the waitress said it is "not manageable." We managed just fine.

The mashed potatoes are very authentically Portuguese, exactly what you would get at a traditional Portuguese Thanksgiving dinner in Hollister.

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The beautiful city of Vancouver at night. We walked around a bit after dinner, and it is very pleasant, though much more urban than Victoria was.

Note to Readers: with this entry, we are now caught up to the current day. Expect an entry about tomorrow tomorrow, and, assuming we have internet, we should be able to blog almost every night.

Posted by danielcatherine 01:00 Archived in Canada Tagged victoria traditional church urban city vancouver chicken studio african ferry latin management portuguese mass nando's Comments (1)

Day 10 - Friday the Thirteenth: Our Lucky Day for Ferries

Featuring a stop at Lake Erie Grocery Store in Anacortes

rain 55 °F

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We woke up to steady rain and cooler temperatures. It seemed like perfect weather, and made the island look all the more beautiful in the mist. We were headed back to Anacortes, and had to cross the island to the ferry terminal fairly early in the morning. Despite leaving a bit late, we easily made it onto the ferry.

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Views from the ferry as we travelled between islands, stopping at Shaw Island and Lopez Island before getting back to Anacortes, on Fidalgo Island.

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A mysterious cat puzzle on the ferry. No one seemed to be working on it or even anywhere near it. A similar puzzle was on the ferry we took to Orcas, even though it wasn't the same ferry.

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Mt. Erie in Anacortes. Lake Erie and Mt. Erie have an unusual name: Mt. Erie was named after the Battle of Lake Erie, which occurred in 1813 on the "other" Lake Erie. In the battle, the Americans defeated the British near Ohio. Later, as highly patriotic names were chosen for places in the northwestern corner of Washington, this mountain was named after that battle. The lake that is next to the mountain was called "Lake Erie" after the mountain.

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The Lake Erie Grocery Store next to Lake Erie. This store belongs to Daniel's great aunt Gerry and great uncle Don (Don is Daniel's grandpa's brother.) Daniel had not met them before, but we had arranged to see them while we were in the area. Unfortunately, the original plan (to visit on Wednesday) had not worked out. However, the rescheduling for Friday allowed more people to be there. We met Don and Gerry's son Joe, and their granddaughters Te'onna, Marissa, and Charli.

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From left: Te'onna, Charli, Joe, Don, Daniel, Catherine, Marissa.

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The store itself was very impressive and interesting. Though it is small, it seems to have a huge selection. Also, customers come in regularly (though It was apparently a pretty slow day, actually.) The store is connected to the house, so we just sat and visited and when the buzzer would go off that a customer had come in, either Don or Gerry would get up and help the customer, then come back.

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From left: Gerry, Don, Daniel, Catherine.
We had a great visit: Daniel learned a lot of interesting family stories and some geneological information, and we got to meet several relatives we didn't know before. We spent several hours there, then headed to the border to go to Victoria.

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Speaking of Victoria, a picture of the Kaiserin Auguste Victoria hanging above the counter at the store. This is apparently the ship that Daniel's great grandmother took when she immigrated to the United States.

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Crossing the border into Canada. The border guards are very inquisitive about why you are there and what you are doing. If we hadn't taken the crossing into another country seriously at first, we certainly would now.

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We made it on the earliest possible ferry from Vancouver to Victoria. The BC ferries are incredibly larger and more polished than the Washington ferries, though the Washington ferries were nice in their own way (smaller and more down-to-earth seeming).

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Washington and BC ferries compared.

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Some views of various islands from the ferry.

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The BC ferries are very confortable and well-appointed. More than anything, they feel like airports.

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Canada and the United States are similar in many ways. However, Canada has some odd chip flavors.

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After the rugged accommodations on Orcas Island, this room in an apartment in a subdivided mansion in Victoria seemed like the ultimate in sumptuous luxury.

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Our host recommended Zambri's Italian restaurant. It was delicious. We got the Italian Sausage pizza and the local turnips. Very had never tried turnips before, but they were good.

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Victoria is a beautiful city. It looks and feels clean, safe, and pleasant. There is a lot to do, and we are glad that we booked two nights here!

Posted by danielcatherine 02:43 Archived in Canada Tagged victoria ship border ferry pizza store luck cousins tiramisu groceries relatives anacortes lake_erie zambri's turnips Comments (2)

Day 8 - So Long Seattle, Hello Orcas

semi-overcast 66 °F

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Our night in Seattle was rather difficult for Catherine. The bed was already tall, and was on risers. Since Catherine is short, she had to jump and fling herself up to the bed. Despite the challenge presented by the bed, the room was cozy and we both slept well. Our host for the night even had fresh baked goods from a local bakery for us.

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When we got up, we headed to Pike's Place Market, which was very busy and interesting. We had both thought that it was going to be mostly fish focused, but in fact they had everything, and it was fascinating to walk around and see all the goods for sale. The one thing couldn't find, at first, was people throwing fish.

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Then, we found it! If you look closely at this picture, you can see a fish flying over the man's head.

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We seem to find a lot of interestingly named car washes.

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The line for the ferry to Orcas Island from Anacortes is rather long and frustrating. We were on "standby one." We weren't sure what that meant, so we were very unsure as to whether we would get on the ferry or have to take the next one, which was hours later.

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Apparently, other people have found the line equally frustrating, and the State of Washington has seen fit to protect their employees.

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But, we made it on! Off to Orcas!

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On the ferry. The views of all the islands are spectacular. This area is incredibly beautiful.

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Arrival on Orcas Island. Interestingly, Orcas Island is not named after orca whales (which are common in the area), but rather after Juan Vicente de Güemes Padilla Horcasitas y Aguayo. Orcas is a shortened form of Horcasitas. Nevertheless, if you look at a map of the island it is sort of shaped like an orca, and it seems like too much of a coincidence.

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The farmland on Orcas Island is beautiful. Everything is so green and clean-looking.

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Some views from the Tiny House on the beach, which was a very cozy and pleasant place to stay, but very rustic. Despite the electricity, Catherine called this the "camping" part of the trip. We had our own private beach, with a nice log to sit on and a great view of Obstruction Pass.

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We made our own dinner. We didn't have any beverages with us besides water and Capri Sun, but it all tasted wonderful.

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Orcas Island is full of deer. The deer have no predators on the island, and they apparently swam there from the mainland generations ago. They have been getting smaller and smaller each generation, beginning the process of insular dwarfism. They are also very fearless of humans, and are willing to walk right up to houses, cars, etc. They don't run away, even when you make noise or walk towards them. Catherine believed that they would move if she clapped, and she approached one fairly closely, clapping all the way. She retreated and went the other way when the deer only looked angry. She says that it growled at her.

The next day, whale watching!

Note to Readers: we are behind on blogging due to the lack of internet on Orcas Island. We are in Victoria now, and have full internet access, but it is getting late and we don't have time to update for both days. Hopefully we can get caught up tomorrow.

Posted by danielcatherine 23:25 Archived in USA Tagged ferry seattle deer pasta orcas anacortes pikes_place tall_bed capri_sun insular_dwarfism Comments (2)

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