September in Ireland has the perfect weather for backpacking and cycling, it is not too hot and the rain hasn’t come yet. We were blessed to enjoy the green scenery and fresh air in this friendly island!
Having been traveling alone for quite a long time, I was happy to have my best friend to come over and join me cycling in these 2 weeks. It would be challenging to adapt a new way of cycling as we have to take care of each other.
River Liffey passes through the heart of Dublin, dividing the city into North (where it was the poor area in the past) and South (richer area). Now it is not a big difference but you can still tell by the characters of the shops and houses. Altogether there are 35 bridges connecting both banks and the most famous one is Half penny bridge, where a century ago everyone had to pay a half penny to cross that bridge!
Temple bar area, packed with pubs and restaurants!
You can miss drinking Guinness in Ireland, there are Guinness sign all over the city, and not to say that Irish pubs are everywhere! I couldn’t drink too much but I did enjoy the taste of Irish Guinness, very subtle and rich in minerals such as iron. My Irish friend told me in Ireland, after you donate blood, they give people Guinness for faster recovery!
In the city, there are some beautiful and free galleries such as Collins Barracks National Museum of Ireland, IMMA, National Gallery, but our favorite is definitely Chester Beatty Library next to Dublin Castle, where you can find artworks from all around the world, and we particularly like the showroom displaying 3 different religions (Christianity, Islam and Eastern Religions)!
We went to Trinity College as well as some smaller cathedrals (as we don’t want to pay to enter St. Patrick Cathedral and Christ Church Cathedral).
Ireland fought for their independence starting in 1916, and succeeded in 1921, but everyone tend to remember 1916 as their national birthday! So in 2016 there will surely be a huge celebration of their 100 years independence!
We set off our cycling tour from Dublin towards the west coast in a sunny day, passing Kells, Longford, Roscommon, Athenry and down to Cliff of Moher! The route is not a typical tourist route, we set those check point mainly because we got hosts there. The road from Dublin to Kells is not that hilly, but it was the first time my friend did such long distance cycling tour, he felt very exhausted and had to push the bike whenever we were going uphill. Eventually we accomplished 64km the first day!
Kells is famous for its “Book of Kells” which is a very old Christian scripture of Bible!
We camped a night just in a park right in the middle of the town, many students passed by in the morning and were curious who were sleeping in the tent!
The second day we pushed 71km to reach Longford where we had a Polish couple to host us, they prepared a chicken rice with various spices, so tasty and matched our need to absorb more protein after long hour pedaling! We had great conversation about traveling and working in foreign countries. Our hosts recommended us to visit Cliff of Moher instead of riding to Clifden, to save up energy to enjoy the view! He was right, we should slow down a bit and spend more time in one place instead of rushing everyday.
Met some new and shy friends on the road….. 🙂
There was a shower in the third day, and we decided to stop in Roscommon for a night. We were lucky to find a stadium which the gate was open. We climbed up to the top of the audience seats and found a sheltered area. Setting up my tent there is a bit tricky, we use chairs as stones to stabilize the 4 corners only.
The next day sun was shinning again, and we flew towards Athenry that is 25km east of Galway. We were lucky to be hosted by an Irish-American couple which has plenty of cycling stories to share! We won’t forget sitting around the fireplace together and talking about life! The next morning our hosts even rode with us for around 10km! Of course we thank their generosity and advice, they helped us a lot both physically and mentally!
Riding to Cliff of Moher, you have two options, the coastal road or the inland road. Coastal road is a bit longer with beautiful view of the ocean, we thought it would be quite flat but we were wrong. The west coast of Ireland is made up of quite a lot of cliff, we went through a lot of ups and downs, and barely we arrived on time to enjoy the sunset which shine an orange color on the cliff.
Imagine the cliff already existed for more than thousand years! We felt so impressed by God’s creation, our problems are so insignificant comparing to the nature!
We camped a night on top of the cliff, right next to the tower. It was very windy up there, a memorable night to be spent on the cliff!