Monday, 13 September 2010

Around Ireland: Inis Mór island (Aran Islands)




Our search of the deep true Irish culture continued and we are just back from a magical place called: Inishmore (in Irish: Inis Mór). As we have been living in Ireland for more than 5 years now, we know that in order to travel around Ireland you have to be very well prepared to confront the changeable weather: waterproof trousers and jacket,rain boots, a couple of torches and a couple of fleeces.

To get to the island you can go either by ferry for 40 minutes or like we did, by a small aircraft for 8-people on a 10-minute flight only. The aircraft flies very low and it´s very nice to see the islands from the sky, I truly recommend it (you pay 45 euros for a return ticket) you can check: http://www.aerarannislands.ie/index.php?page=group-rates. A shuttle bus will take you to the Connemara airport from Galway in only 30 minutes. Inismore is the biggest of the 3 beautiful Aran island on the Atlantic ocean. According to what the locals told us it has around 900 inhabitants and everybody knows each other, the most popular hobby is : gossip which spreads quickly! There is no crime at all there so no police is needed, there are no petrol stations, nor big shops or other common places we take for granted in this globalized world. There is only one small bank, 3 schools and when you get sick they come to pick you up by helicopter. The means of transports around the island is mainly by: pony carriages, bikes and for the oldest tourists there are around 3 small vans that take them in a tour around the island for 2 hours (10 euros each). No map will help you on this island since there are no street names and only a few signs and all in gaelic! People from the island are extremely nice and helpful and their main language is Irish, which unfortunately it´s only spoken in a few places in Ireland. There are no big luxurious hotels to stay on the island, only bed and breakfasts from the locals. Without knowing it, i booked a room for 2 in the most beautiful spot of the island, "The Man of Aran cottage" whose owner Joe and wife Maury treat you like one member of their family, we had long conversations with them while having a homemade Irish breakfast in the morning with the products from their own garden. They have been for 18 years in the business and take care of every detail. We were lucky we got the cottage number 5 just in front of the ocean, you pay 45 euros per person but it´s well worth it (they can make you a discount if you are a group)!The reservation is done by email and then you pay at the end of your stay. You can find them here: http://www.manofarancottage.com/about.html.
We rented our bike in town and cycled all the way to the cottage with our rucksacks, i have to say that if somebody would have told me that it was going to take me an hour to get there, i may have chosen another means of transport but it was an experience for me, to be honest! Just 5 mins before arriving we saw one tourist lying on the road because she was hit by a car, being her an American tourist going in the wrong direction with the bike,she was taken quickly to the mainland. There are only a few cars on the island but on the Aran islands , it´s like in the U.k. and cars go on the left and some tourists are unaware and a beautiful trip can end up badly.
I could be writing for hours about Inis Mór but I’m going to sum it up now:
@ Beautiful colours of landscapes and sky free of pollution where you can see the stars at night!
@Perfect place to get away from hectic life
@go to the local pub, Joe ,to listen to live music and have a wonderful meal, i recommend the cheese cake with Baileys
@have a coffee on the Man of Aran small shop in town
@choose a bed and breakfast a bit far away from town
@Don´t miss the fort of Dún Aonghasa and its beautiful cliffs, our cottage was only 10 minutes away from this site
@if you want to rent a bike do it directly in the main shop in town, 10 euros per day
@if you need to leave your bags , you can leave them at the tourist office
@don´t miss the smallest church in Europe and the beautiful cemetery with celtic crosses just in front of the ocean (both of them very close to the airport)
@choose carefully the time of the year when you want to go there, for us September has been very nice, they told us that many bed and breakfasts close from October to January (the lowest temperature being 7 degrees and the hottest 20 degrees,so leave the bikini at home!)

Locals like the American pub , we went there and we actually didnt´like the food, the Joe´s pub was much nicer, don’t waste tour time there.

@leave your umbrella at home and bring better what I recommended at the top of this post , all the American tourists in shorts got a bit wet.

To me it has been one of the most beautiful wedding anniversaries i have had with my beloved husband, he was so happy cycling and talking to the locals that only to see this it was well worth it!We have definitely a different view of Ireland, the more we get to know it , the more we like it!

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