Saturday, March 30, 2013

Dingle and Cork

We went to the Dingle Peninsula for a few days. We were both pretty wiped from hiking the Cliffs of Moher so we took it easy in Dingle but we did see Fundie the Dolphin, a solitary dolphin who has been living in the bay for 29 years and really likes to swim with people and comes to say hi to them at all hours of day or evening apparently. :P 
We made sand art, it was cool. 

 We went to the beach and took pictures, but we didn't find the lighthouse we were half-heartedly searching for. instead we found this epic tower, below.
 It was in a field of cows. very impressive.
 Ruthiey made an incredible salad, with a hot topping of onions, peppers, brie cheese, and panchetta, and she fried up some flatbreads to go with it! YUMMY! :)
 Another shot for all the foodies out there. :P

 while on the subject of food, we also got ice cream from Murphy's in Dingle, they even make their own sea salt! I got Vanilla and Sea Salt ice creams and Ruthiey got Baileys Irish Cream and Keiran's Cookies ice creams. Very unusually and delicious.

We got to Cork, which was really a side thought, we were planning to go back to Dublin but then we decided to check out Cork. This is the best graffiti I have found yet, it makes me want to be in the wall, in the scene.
 This is the city of Cork

 It has a lot of canals running through it.
 St. Fin Barre's Church. Wow, the coolest church we'd seen so far. It is really gorgeous.

 We went to go see Blarney Castle. About 30 minutes by bus outside of Cork, so we packed a lunch and took the city bus there.
 It is a very impressive castle from the outside, but inside it is very dark and cold, like a prison. I would not like to live in a castle.
 Of course at the top of the castle a long line of smoochers were assembled. I didn't remember how gross I thought it would be to kiss a stone that hundreds maybe thousands of people before me had smooched and it probably hadn't been sanitized very often...
 This is Blarney House, which was way cooler looking than the castle, but unfortunately closed for remodeling or something. But anyways, not open to the public. The grounds around Blarney castle are nice and we took a stroll around for a while.
This rock is called Lion rock. I can actually see why they say that! Maybe my imagination is getting better. :P
 We went out for Indian food whilst in Cork. It was a fast food place, but sooooo yummy! We had enough leftover for the next day's lunch.
 We went about wandering at twilight on Maundy Thursday and photographed churches. All the old people were going off to church.
by Hannah Jak
Perfect twilight, all around.
Bright city, softly ignites.
A dream I'd lost, I've found.
Narrow lanes and street lights. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Awe Inspiring Cliffs of Moher

Ruthiey and I went to the little tiny town of Doolin in order to do a hike along the Cliffs of Moher by recommendation of Wendy Nachreiner. Thanks Wendy! It would have been awful to miss these cliffs. (Side note - these are the 'Cliffs of Insanity' in Princess Bride, they also appear in Harry Potter)
 Ruthiey had a bit of a wonked knee from previous hiking trips, but she didn't want to miss this hike and so we geared up, packed a lunch and headed out into the cloudy morning.

This is like nothing I ever saw in my life, even in pictures and just so ya all know, pictures don't even capture half of this. It needs to be seen, heard and felt in person.
 This is the short end of the cliffs, right before they end in a crazy good surfer beach. This is where we started our hike.
 Ruthiey sea gazing. It was very distracting and hard to keep a steady pace with so much beautiful scenery.
 Me. Oh btw, my hairdo did not survive this trip, after it started hailing/raining and then with the wind being so strong, I had a whole new do by the end. :)
 The cliffs started getting higher and higher and we had a few moments like this one where we suddenly realized just how far down it was! At one point I dropped a rock over one of the cliffs and it fell for a long time before soundlessly breaking into pieces at the bottom. That was scary. It gives you floaty feelings in your stomach.  
 They are really truly dangerous cliffs. But they are kinda funny signs... :P
 Ruthiey posing with warnings.
More Cliff shots. The hike we went on the first day was 16 km long. The next day I went again by myself because Ruthiey's knee really needed a rest. The second day I did the 24 km route. this photo above and all the ones below are from my solo trip. It was quite cloudy both days.
 Both the sound and the silence of the Cliffs is amazing. Waves and wind, and sudden quiet. Because most of the trail that I was taking was on non-tourist routes, I saw maybe 4 people on the second day. (besides when I was passing the tourist center, maybe a 1 km stretch that had 100+ people behind shoulder high walls.)
 That tiny tower that you see on the jutting out bit is the tourist cliff. This is after I passed it.
I reached Hag's Head, which apparently looks like an old women looking out to sea, but maybe my imagination is just not quite there, cuz I didn't see it at all, but I did see this cool Sea Arch that would have been fun to kayak through
Hag's Head has an old castle tower on it, mostly destroyed but the skeleton looks cool, especially from a distance. 

This is from inside the tower looking back (North) the way I came. 
 So on the way back, I found this little trail, that you can barely see in the center of this photo, it goes down - almost a sheer cliff - down to this beach. I had seen some surfers coming up the trail while I was going towards Hag's Head so I decided to try and get down it. If there wasn't grass growing on this trail, it would be almost impossible to get down.

 But maybe because it was so hard to get to, it was really cool and I was very happy to have gotten down to it. Getting back up was another story altogether...
At the top, two Aussie boys were waiting, they said: "How'd you go?"
"Good!" I said, out of breath and my heart beating about 200 bpm. What I felt like saying was: "I'm alive!"
I told them how to get down to the beach and went on my way. That was really fun! But I was kinda glad Ruthiey hadn't been there to see it, just cuz she might have been a bit freaked out. :)
Love ya, little sis!

The sun, an elusive beauty that day, finally appeared, way off in the ocean. A fitting end to an excellent and exciting hike. I am afraid I won't enjoy other hikes with this as a comparison! So absolutely awe inspiring and epic! If any of you ever get a change to get out to Ireland, don't miss these Cliffs.

Friday, March 22, 2013

my oceans - His oceans

I'm not sure when I first saw the sea, but as long as I can remember I have had an aching longing for the sea when I am not near it.
I have often thought of the ocean while being very far from it in Minnesota. Other water, like the Mississippi River is also impressive, but there is something about the vast, limitlessness of the ocean. 
Galway Bay, Ireland
My desires for anything tend to be solidified in a dreaming of the sea, waves, beaches, and huge unknowable skies. Fears about my future and wonderings about the meaning of life have their potential answers in the sea. The possibilities seem endless when I think about the oceans. 
Cliffs of Moher (I will post more about that later) :) 
If I'm honest, when I get to the sea, while I am fully amazed, in awe and very solemnly joyful to be in the place I have dreamed and written and thought much about, something is missing. Something else that is not there by the sea. My aching longing is not met by the thing I desired so strongly.

I love what CS Lewis says about aching: "If you find in yourself a desire which no earthly thing can satisfy, the logical conclusion must be that you are made for another world. That other world - heaven - echoes in you." 

I am joyfully accepting that my needs and desires cannot be met by the things of this world. Praise God that he has put desires for eternity in my soul! What complex and wonderful things emotions and aching longings are.

Irish Sea
by Hannah Jak

The stirring, solemn march of tides,
beyond horizons ever rides.

The gulls awake me with their cries,
a glimpse of You against the skies.

The tumbled questions like the waves,
for who knows all but God who saves?

The wind is cold and salt, Your roar,
as waves crash ever on the shore.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Explorations of Derry ~ Londonderry

I am being extremely PC by calling Derry ~ Londonderry by both its names. There is still a disagreement after many years about the correct name of the city. The Catholics/Republic of Ireland loyalists call it Derry and the Protestants/British 'Invaders' call it Londonderry. All this we learned in our excellent walking tour of the city. This is going to be a hodgepodge of random slices of our days spent in Derry city, which I'm going to call it just cuz that is easier and gets less irritated corrections from anyone.
 First of all, we were in an excellent hostel, that had 6 luxurious beds. Our previous hostel in Belfast was an 18 bed dorm and was freezing cold at all times. So this was a nice upgrade.
The view from the city walls over the 'Catholic' side of town. Derry is a city with the best example of well preserved city walls. They are a mile all around and 4 beautiful gates that can all be seen clearly from the center of town. 
 We crossed over the Peace Bridge, which was opened in 2011 as a connection point between the Catholics that mainly lived nearer the city and the Protestants who mainly live across the river.

 We also found some Excellent Graffiti underneath a highway crossing tunnel, and so of course I had to have it immortalized in photograph. :P They do have some cool graffiti in Derry.
 This is the really yummy dinner that Ruthiey made us: Spinach Salad with an invented dressing from our random ingredients that we had in the hostel. Also some pasta with ground pork and Edam cheese on top, which was my invention. We were very cheerful to be in Derry, which we both immediately loved. 
 Next morning, we decided to have an 'alone day' to just spend time with God and to reflect on the trip so far. This is the excellent and appropriate quote I found on my morning out and about.

 This is another view of the Peace Bridge and the varied weather, it was sunny but cool and windy.
But the next morning, the fog was as thick as we had ever seen it in our lives! That behind Ruthiey in the sky, is the SUN if you can believe it! 
 This is the Peace Bridge again, and the sun behind it.
 A delicate spiderweb is highlighted by the fog in beads of condensation. That was a magical morning in our very special city of Derry.