Biking Day 1 – Gougane Barra

Sometimes I hate cameras.

They’re great little inventions, but some things are so beautiful that no camera, not even my brother’s super fancy “I can take pictures of the moon” camera, could ever properly capture them.

That frustration was basically…my whole day. I kept looking at the little square on my camera and thinking, “No! That’s not right. It’s way better than that in real life!” You really just need to come to Ireland and see it for yourself.

One exception: Lynn’s armpit was really properly captured by my camera. You probably don’t need to see that in real life. This picture will do:

lynnsarmpit

This morning, after a delicious breakfast that could probably merit its own post, we set off. We were all a bit nervous, especially because the guy who gave us our bikes seemed to have way too much faith in our knowledge about cycling.

canwemakeit

We were also a bit nervous because the directions we got from the tour company were…confusing at best. Here are some quotes from today’s route:

“After about 400 metres you come to a road. Turn right here.”

“After about 6.5 km, turn right by a shop.”

What road? What shop? HOW ARE WE SUPPOSED TO FIND OUR WAY WITHOUT A GPS?

Luckily, we have Rex. He is an absolute whiz with maps, and he got us here without getting lost once. We were all wildly impressed and equally relieved. He said it’s the trickiest navigation project he’s done to date, but I think he simply had to “level up” because he was too good in the USA.

Also, sometimes it was a little more obvious than we thought. Here’s the shop we were supposed to find:

trail1

We covered forty-five miles today. One of the highlights was the scenery, and we’re definitely in the country now. Larson said he’s “choking on all the fresh air,” (lol!) but Rex is a happy camper.

My personal favorite part of the day was all the ruined buildings we found. A lot of them were olllld. Lots of farmhouses were abandoned in the 1840’s during the Potato Famine, and some of the ones we found were probably in that group. Check these out:

abandonedhouse

otherpic

The best building by far was an abandoned church. It was in total ruins, randomly in the middle of nowhere, and it’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. It looked pretty cool from the outside, but the inside was the best part. I think what I said when I walked in was, “Oh my worrrrrd….this is like a movie. No, it’s like a fairy tale. No, it’s like….it’s like I’ll just shut up now because there are not words.”

church

magic1

magic5

Stupid camera. Now you have no idea how beautiful this was. Also, it was serene…so quiet and gorgeous.

Outside the church was an ancient cemetery. There was a sign warning against grave robbers, and we laughed. Who would rob ancient graves?

cemetery1

WELL. We found one of the stone graves busted open. There was a dark cavity below, maybe six feet deep. Larson asked for my flashlight. He shined it in there, and…

There were bones.

I know you’re thinking, “Duh, Christine. Of course there were bones. It’s a grave.” But have you ever seen decomposed human bones? Especially in complete silence only broken by occasional wind gusts and crow calls? IT’S FREAKY. We for sure saw a femur, a broken skull, and other bits that I didn’t look at because it was too creepy.

I know some of my skeptical friends will say, “Yeah right. They weren’t human. Pics or it didn’t happen.” SO. I have pics. I’m not posting them here, though, because some people might find them disturbing. Honestly, I found them disturbing. I made Larson take the pictures because I didn’t want to look in there again. Now Mr. O’Leary (the former owner of said bones) is haunting my camera for sure.

Can ghosts cross oceans?

When Lynn came out of the church, Rex said, “Hey Lynn! Look over here! A mama rabbit has a little nest of babies at the bottom of this broken grave.”

I considered warning her, but I’m a pretty bad friend because instead I said, “Yeah. They’re really adorable and fluffy. Get your flashlight and take a look.”

She should have realized that no mama rabbit (let alone a baby rabbit) could jump six feet out of a grave…but alas. To be fair, she did look skeptical. I don’t think she expected what she saw, though.

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEK!

So. That was creepy beyond all reason.

The places mapped out for our stops today were truly fabulous. Here’s the town where we had lunch:

lunch1

lunch2

lunch3

Dinner was in tonight’s hotel. It was a three-course meal included in our tour price, and we ate a ton. After all, we’d just biked forty-five miles. We could afford the calories.

dinner3

Tonight’s hotel is amazing. Incredible. Beautiful. I do not have enough adjectives. Here’s the view from outside the front lobby:

hotel3

Here’s the view from our bedroom window:

view1

Now it’s already 10:30, and I have to be up early to do this all again tomorrow. I can’t wait! Let’s round out this post with some pics of hills and cows, shall we?

cows1

cows5

cows2

P.S. This post took two hours to make because of the snaily WiFi, but it’s worth the slow internet to be so secluded. Good night!

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3 thoughts on “Biking Day 1 – Gougane Barra

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