CIE Tours Travel Blog
Wild Memories Being Made on the Wild Atlantic Way
By: Samantha Henderson
Date: June 20, 2017
I am so excited for the upcoming week! I can tell that the Wild Atlantic Way tour is going to be a great one because it already has been so far and it's only day two! This time, the tour group is made up of thirty-five guests and our effortlessly chill and funny driver-guide, Austin. Austin has been amazing because he is so calm. He is never rushing us or too worried about time, as long as we are all happy and enjoying ourselves. Many of the guests have told me that they are very impressed by his commentary as we travel from place to place. No one can believe how much he knows about Ireland.
Cliffs of Moher, Co. Clare
We started the tour on Monday with one of the biggest tourist attractions Ireland has to offer, the Cliffs of Moher. Everyone was so happy about the weather: seventy-five and sunny with almost no wind. The views were simply incredibleâ€¦ I couldn't believe how far I could see. The cliffs are great for any level of adventurousness. If you don't want to venture near them, you can go inside and take a virtual tour. If you don't want to walk far and stay behind a barrier, you can be. However, if you're like me and want to take a walk on the wild side (literallyâ€¦ Wild Atlantic Way... get it?...) then you can walk on dirt right along the edge of the cliffs that will seriously make you hold your breath. The views are magnificent from any point of the cliffs, though.
Afterwards, we went back to the Old Ground Hotel in Ennis, Co. Clare for a welcome drink, where Austin answered questions from guests and gave a run-down of the week to come. Dinner was delicious. I always love the first dinner with guests at the hotels. They are always blown away with the quality and selection of food. One guest I had the pleasure of sitting with at dinner turned to her father and said, "Dad, this is incredible. When's the last time we ate a three-course meal?" Old Ground Hotel was really elegant and super accommodating. The location was great for evening walks around town and shopping. The guests really enjoyed themselves.
The next morning, we checked out of Old Ground Hotel and headed to Galway. There, we met up with a walking guide who was absolutely terrific. The tour started in the Galway Cathedral, where we viewed impressive architecture, consisting of the famously intricate Connemara Marble.
Creme Brulee at Old Ground Hotel
We then headed over the river and to Saint Nicholas' Collegiate Church, which is the largest medieval parish in Ireland. After learning about the rich history of the church and Galway's city walls, we made our way to the main streets, lined with shops, pubs, and live performances. We stopped to take in the melodies of a guitar player and watch the mesmerizing Irish dancing by Emma O'Sullivan, who has performed in Riverdance. Again, the guests were surprised by how interesting and informative the guide was, and were very pleased with all they had learned.
We then had free time in Galway. Most guests walked along the shops and listened to the live music performed by all sorts of interesting people, including a group of children that were really fantastic. I, however, took a five-minute walk to O'Connell's bar, where Ed Sheeran's Galway Girl music video was filmed. Sadly, Ed was not there... but a very nice local did take my photo in front of the bar for me!
After exploring Galway, we made our way to Westport, Co. Mayo. On the way, we made a stop at Connemara Marble and learned all about the rare and precious marble that comes in many gorgeous varieties. I'll never understand how such works of art are made by nature alone.
Once in Westport, we checked into Hotel Westport. Most guests were blown away by the spaciousness of the rooms and by the amazing food. Since the sun doesn't go down till about eleven-o'clock at this time of year, many guests decided to spend the night in one of the many traditional pubs Westport has to offer, just a quick and beautiful walk from Hotel Westport.
I cannot wait to see what the rest of the Wild Atlantic Way has to offer! This week I'll be discovering deserted villages and revisiting one of my favorite places, Giants Causeway.
Meet ya there!