I’m not so sure I agree with the list of the seven wonders of the world. Sure, the places listed are incredible and I truly hope to visit each and every one of them one day – but what defines wonder? The dictionary says “a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful, unfamiliar, unexpected or inexplicable”. If wonder is taken as in this definition, then finding a place that elicits these emotions must be pretty personal. I’d say that there are a lot of places in my life that have caused me to feel full of admiration for nature. At age 20, my list of wonder-full adventures is already lengthy, and this most recent trip to western Ireland certainly earned a spot on the growing archive.
It astounds me how rural parts of Ireland are. The drive to the other side of the country took us a mere three hours – you can’t even get across California in that amount of time. Throughout the rainy drive, there were pastures of cows and sheep, small cottages and very little traffic on the roads; then again it was around 8 AM on Tuesday morning. Our first stop was to Kinvara, a small fishing town in Galway Bay. This pit stop was only about 10 minutes long, because the town consisted of a few ships in the water, some closed shops and a little spread of houses in the surrounding fields. Regardless of the small amount of time we spent there, the views of the Atlantic Ocean were really beautiful. Clumps of seaweed floated along the coastline and a couple ships were sailing out to the ocean – this quiet, little town was full of wonder to me.
About twenty minutes further down the Atlantic Way are the ruins of Corcomroe Abbey. When I think of ruins, I typically picture of old churches that are full of really old graves. This abbey was certainly old but some of the graves there were not from too long ago. The collapsed ceiling and the aged stone was shining brightly from the cloud covered sun. While walking around the abbey ruins, I found several little doors and windows that were so tiny and being ever-curious, I took it upon myself to climb through each and every one.
Our tour group was fairly small, just around 20 of us exploring around the ruins. There were pastures just outside the gate of the abbey, filled with rolling green fields and not much else. Again, these vistas were making me realize just how rural western Ireland truly is. After living in the bustling London city center for a month and a half, these rural towns were so refreshing to be in. Getting away from the concrete jungle and finding a little bit of space in these towns. Especially in the grey weather, the vibrant green of the hills was illuminated even brighter – Ireland kind of reminds me of Washington in a way. It looks so beautiful in the dull weather that can sometimes drown a city.
We went driving down the Atlantic Way a bit further through the colorful Burren landscape. It’s known to be full of smaller versions of the ultimate destination, the Cliffs of Moher. Sure enough on our stop off in this area, I walked right out to the cliffs and sat down to witness the depth of the sheer cliffs. One of my favorite views was the waves continually crashing over the rocks sitting out of the water. Salt water filled air is among one of the most refreshing feelings. The mist that was being sprayed up along the cliffs made the cool wind more brisk, so the fifteen minutes spent outside of the bus was just enough.
The wind was whipping along the coast line when we arrived. There were hills rising next to the ocean that were void of trees and littered with large boulders. In fact, Burren (or Boireann in Irish) means ‘great rock’ and this massive landscape spans 250 kilometers across Ireland. The glaciers that once dominated the landscape, around 10,000 years ago, are responsible for the rocky grounds and the large boulders the area is named after. It’s well known for having colorful flora and fauna – hues of red, green, yellow and blue sprinkled along the vast views.
After a lunch in the small town of Doolin, we made our way to the pinnacle of the day… the Cliffs of Moher! On my growing list of wonders, the impressive 700 foot cliffs along the Atlantic coastline certainly earned their spot. The pictures don’t do nearly enough justice of this incredible view. In a moment of true jaw-dropping astonishment, I hardly could speak. I’m even having trouble writing about this moment now, lost trying to find the right words so I can convey the sense of beauty I found in this place. Alongside the fenced pathway sat a pasture of Irish cows; they really do live in a small slice of heaven.
What would a day on top of Ireland’s famous cliffs be without playing a joke or two? After climbing over the gate that conveniently had a plaque memorializing the people who have died over the side of the cliffs, we dangled our feet over the edge and I fell a little bit more in love with the enchanting area. No need for the heart attack, there was at least three feet of ledge underneath me before the 700 foot fall. Despite the gut-dropping feeling when you’re looking at some pretty sharp rocks that far below you, the view was absolutely incredible.
What places give you a feeling of incredible wonder? Let me know in the comments below!
Lots of love,