Who wants to work out on vacation? Maybe some of those weird people that I constantly see on Facebook and Insta who are at the gym 23 hours of the day, but I am definitely not one of those people. Therefore, I don't really want to work out when on vacation. However, I am really trying to stick to my running program as much as possible, and today was a scheduled 8-mile run. I skipped one of my short runs earlier this week due to rain and the lack of running paths, but the hotel we are at now has a "leisure center" and the treadmills taunted me as we drove past the windows on our way into the hotel. So, this morning, I dutifully woke up to my 7:30am alarm and got a ride from the staff over to the club house/gym nearby.
This is a side note, but I don't understand how people can enjoy running on a treadmill. Yes, it was nice to be out of the constant Ireland rain, and have a nice fan blowing directly on me, but it was utterly boring. To pass the nearly two hours I spent running on it, I counted by multiples to 100 by 2,3,4,... all the way up to 9... That passed all of 3 minutes. I need to have my music playing in order to keep my pace up, so watching a show or movie is out of the question. I bounce too much to read a book. Basically, I was bored to tears for the entire 12.87km. But, when I was done, I was so proud! The stupid treadmill turned off 2 times so I had to mentally add my distances together, but I am sure I did at least 8 miles, if not a bit more.
After getting a ride from my new friend Aiden (the porter who valeted our car, drove me to the gym and back, and has done various other errands for us) back to the main hotel so I didn't have to walk in the rain, I got ready and we headed out to explore County Clare.
First of all, we needed food. This hotel, while impressively nice as well as featuring a lot of amenities, did not include breakfast in the fees, so we went into town to get a baguette or something instead. We found a Tesco and got a few small baguettes. We limited ourselves to sharing just one because only 30 minutes away was a cafe I had found on Yelp called Joe's Cafe. Only 15 minutes from the Cliffs of Moher, it was beach-side and highly rated. We saved our appetites for a real meal there.
We found the cafe without difficulty and both ordered a pie. I got the Shamrock: beef steak with Irish Stout, and my mom ordered the Heidi: goat's cheese, sweet potatoes, spinach and red onions. When they came, they were so cute! Each had some mashed potatoes and gravy. My pie was very savory, but it had onions in it. If you know me well, you know I do NOT like onions. But, I did what needed to be done; I ate the onions. (Romeo, don't get too excited. I do not consent to more onions in the future!) My mom's pie was delicious as well and we were both very satisfied. However, I didn't run 8 miles this morning for nothing! We ordered the brownie and ice cream for dessert, which the menu claimed to be "the most amazing brownie in the world!" For once, I actually agreed with such a grand claim! It was divine!!!! Definitely worth 2 hours on the treadmill.
After polishing off all our food, we headed north to the famous Cliffs. Rain had been off and on regularly, but a storm looked to be coming in as we parked the car. We headed up to the visitor's center and out to the viewing area quick as we could. The Cliffs of Moher are a very popular tourist attraction, and while the weather was absolute crap while we were there - very high winds and constant light rain - we probably came at the right time of year. During high season, when all the tourist pour into Ireland, I doubt I could have gotten a clear photo of the cliffs, let alone one with me in it! As it was, we got some amazing views and hopefully a few good photos. A Chinese man, who was taking a billion photos anyway, kindly agreed to take a photo of my mom and I together, and while it showed the cliffs well enough, my hair was absolutely wild. But, that was the reality of the experience,I suppose!
We decided not to walk along the cliffs opposite us due to impending rain (we could literally see it pouring out over the ocean not far away) as well as due to some foot pain I was experiencing. I think wearing boots that lacked arch support for two days, then running 8 miles the following day, probably caused the pain in my right arch and ankle. I hobbled back to the car and we headed back in the direction of our hotel.
Just wanted to mention in here, while we were wary of the rain, frustrated over crazy hair, and frozen half to death, the Cliffs were absolutely stunning. Pictures can't do it justice. The water was insane below us, and the view was astounding. I only wish the weather had cooperated a bit more so I could have enjoyed it more peacefully (rather than with wind and causing a huge racket on my hood!)
Of course, we wanted to geocache in such a cool area. However, either the impending storm or our proximity to the coast caused my cell phone service to fail entirely. Despite showing at least partial bars most of the time, I couldn't get anything to connect. It was frustrating because I could neither locate any geocaches nor could I pull up directions back to the hotel. I was glad that I remembered our path to follow in reverse heading back so we weren't entirely lost without the phone!
Along the way back, the sun started to peak back out and we saw a rainbow. I could see both ends, and at one point, it seemed so close that I felt that I could just drive over to the end and find a pot of gold awaiting me! I tried to snap a photo, but the roads were insanely narrow with few places to pull over, and even fewer of those having a good view of the rainbow. Alas...
We headed back to the hotel directly at that point, having no geocaches to entertain us. I needed a break from walking anyway, and we had a nice rest before venturing out to find dinner. When we did leave again, we headed into Ennis, the nearest city, in search of food. Almost everything was closed, though, and we settled on pizza, which was a good price but definitely lackluster in quality. Since my phone was finally working again, we were able to stop for a geocache on the way back to the hotel for the night. We searched for one near a park in the middle of town, but we think that it was displaced by recent storms that knocked down hundreds (or thousands) of trees in the area, as well as flooded most of the rivers and lakes. We gave up on that one shortly, but were able to find another near some old military barracks on the way out of town.
Now, I am icing my foot and blogging before heading back to the room so mom and I can plan our day tomorrow. Our trip is wrapping up and while I am sad to leave, I must admit I am looking forward to being back home again. Cheers for now!