Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Cliffs and Caves

With the weather looking somewhat decent on Monday we decided to brave the Cliffs of Moher.  Knowing the weather could turn at any moment and that this is a trip we really didn't want to do in the rain, we set off with lowered expectations so as not to be disappointed.  And we weren't! Yes, it was freezing cold most of the time were there (again defining freezing as winter time in BCN now, not freezing back at home which I haven't experienced for 2 winters now), but the scenery was worth it! 

The roads were windy as we knew they would be but the views once again spectacular.  When we were able to see the cliffs off in the distance I made Josh stop so I could get a picture. 

Cliffs in the distance

We got to the cliffs after about a 20-30 minute drive.  For some reason we didn't think it would be so cold but then we were at a much higher elevation then where we had started.  We got a tantrum from Aidan about how cold it was but we told him the more he runs along the walk the warmer he'll get.  Eventually he gave in.  We did not climb the actual cliffs themselves since there were no guardrails and for fear that one of the kids would push the other off during an impromteu wrestling match. We also figured the hike up the viewing side was much easier on them (and thereby us).
Cows next to the parking lot
Liam was all smiles about going up to the Cliffs

The Cliffs of Moher have been attracting visitors since the 1800s - that's a long time!  However, they've been around even longer, formed around 320 million years ago when the area was situated at the mouth of a river.  As the mud from the river settled, over time the cliffs were formed.  They range for about 5 miles out over the Atlantic Ocean - I had no idea they were that long when we were there but then we were on the platform area across from the closest part of the cliffs. 
Our first good view of the Cliffs
The boys trying to look out the telescope

A harpist - she was amazing!

Glad we chose the side that had the wall between us and the ocean!
A better view ofthe cliffs - the cave looks amazing!
Our only family shot so far and Liam had absolutely no interest and the guy who took the picture apparently didn't try to get the cliffs in the background, but at least he got all of us in the picture!

We went up to O'Brien's Tower to get a better view of the Cliffs.  I have to say, I wasn't super impressed.  It cost us 6 euros to climb to the top and unless you were well over 6 feet tall there was an obstructed view of the cliffs as you'll see in my picture below. 

O'Brien Tower

Aidan climbing to the top of the Tower

Liam says he is King of the World!

I wasn't tall enough to see over the turrets so I needed to go between.  Still a cool picture but would have loved a clear shot!
Walking back to the car

After the Cliffs of Moher we decided to go down under...under ground that is.  To Doolin Cave!  Doolin Cave is the home of the second largest stalactite in the world!  We were lead down several flights of stairs as a new tunnel had been dug next to the original cave for fear of disturbing the stalactite.  The stalactite has NEVER been touched since it's discovery in the 1950s up til about 2 weeks ago when a core sample was taken from it in order to carbon date it.  It is expected that it will be between 600,000 and 800,000 years old.  That is really old!!!

A castle set behind the flowers

Once we descended the 80 feet into the main tunnel we had to put on hard hats and follow the cave to a large opening that was carved out over all those years that is home to the stalactite. The room is initially in darkness as to prepare you for what you are about to see. Liam was less than thrilled with this part but it gives you the idea of what happened with the 2 men that discovered the stalactite in the 50s and how unexpected that discovery was.
Liam with his hard hat - turned out he didn't need it since his head wasn't high enough to reach the roof of the cave though even Josh and I had to duck it was that short!
Where the original cave enters the "new" cave
Some of the water that flows thru the cave
Josh and Aidan far ahead
And here it is the Great Stalactite!!
Below the stalactite is the beginning to a formation of a stlagmite
Josh and Liam with the Great Stalactite
Small new stalactites forming

A small column (maybe 6 inches tall) that probably took thousands of years to form
Aidan outside the caves

For one last thing in an already busy but fun day, we decided since the sun was somewhat shining we would take the kids to the beach again...and hope for no rain this time.  Josh dropped us off and then went back to the house to get the bathing suits for the kids. 

While we waiting the boys enjoyed running up and down a hill.  I loved this beach before we even got on it.  Families everywhere were grilling out by their cars or in the little valleys between the dunes and hills.  No one charged you to park or asked you for a beach sticker, you just go.  Do you remember those days when you could just go to the beach??  With all the running and rolling I'm surprised the boys had any energy left for the beach!
At the top of the hill
Getting ready to run down
On the go... there were a few rough falls that I was fearful might require an ER visit but thankfully everyone was ok and had a lot of fun
Aidan rolling down the hill
Liam trying to copy Aidan

Finally we made it on to the beach.  Most of the parents there were in sweatshirts and at least capris or long pants.  There were not a lot of people in the water but then this is about as warm as it gets here so not sure I'd want to be in their either.  We saw the surf school doing their thing and I think the idea of a wet suit to go swimming here would be appealing.  Josh put his toes in and said it was freezing and Josh will swim pretty much anywhere!
The boys are very courageous!!!

Aidan would have stayed in longer body surfing if he hadn't collided with a rock
Liam is unsure but goes in anyways
I'm cold just looking at them!!
Liam just wanted to play in the sand... he was also shaking like crazy from the cold!
Very cool, smooth black rocks along the sand's edge

Liam checking out the big black rocks
He found himself a little hole in the rocks to sit in and put his feet in

Building tunnels
Josh building a tunnel for Liam
Liam loves the sand!
Crash!!  There goes Daddy's tunnel!
Josh on the beach - yes he's wearing a jacket with his bathing suit

Like all good things, this great day had to come to an end, but how much better does it get than this sunset??
Amazing sunset behind our house
Just after it went behind the mountain


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