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During my travels newspaper columns were published weekly in the Dutch daily newspaper
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Reports

Thursday, 5 July 2001
Galway --> The Burren --> Galway (IRL)

Onno had put some of his web design work beside and wanted to show me around Ireland some more.

I was not allowed to leave the country if I had not seen The Burren mountain range; he kept on telling me that I'd love it.

He is still in love.

---due to an process error I currently have annoying \\\\-characters in my report, I am trying to solve it as soon as possible---

After breakfast we got into the car and started driving south. Just outside of Galway I noticed to roads getting smaller by the mile, and it got so much more peaceful – until we were the only ones on the streets.

Well, street is a big name for it; it was just hoping not to come across with a car from the other side - all the time. One of us would have to drive backwards.

The name The Burren is from the Irish – bhoireann means: a stony place. Its formation has lain unspoiled since the ice-age and is composed of limestone, the largest area of such in western Europe.

A fine collection of alpines and Mediterranean species grows together in this limestone area with, strangely, some of them being lime-hating plants. The Burren is bordered to the west by the Atlantic Ocean and Galway Bay and is tucked in the north-west corner of Clare.

(Extracts from My Place Among the Stones)

Onno droved me along cliffs, through bright green valleys and showed me the greatest panoramas I had never seen before in my life.

We drove through the little village Kilfenora and had a coke on a sunny terrace in Lisdoornvarna.

Here everything looked so clean and in a certain way as I was walking in Hollywood decorations.

Onno told me an interesting story about this city. The Lisdoornvarna Matchmaker is Ireland's leading matchmaking event.

Matchmaking was one of the oldest traditions of Ireland when the country had two classes - the rich landowners and the poor peasants. The rich organised matchmaking so that their sons and daughters would meet and marry other people who were also well to do.
The Spa town of Lisdoonvarna was picked and traditionally the people from Ireland went there in their thousands to drink the healthy Spa waters and bathe in the three different mineral cure waters that the Spa wells had, and still offer. The month of September was picked as it is the month when the hay and crops are saved and the livestock do not need extra feeding until later in the autumn.

(Extracted from the Lisdoornvara Matchmakers website)

When we drove out of Lisdoornvara the scenery changed in one minute from forest to green grass and as we got higher on the mountains the only thing to see was limestone (and the view from it).

At one point I could see all the way to the Galway bay, looking over at the beach below me and in the Atlantic Oceans the Aran Islands, a string of three little islands some 7 miles of the Irish island, were very good to see.

Onno just could not believe it, I just had to be very lucky: the sun was burning! I think my thoughts of this area must have been so much different when the skies were dark grey and rain was coming down. It is such a beauty to see these natures this way, especially when we got to the beach. Shoes off and in there!

From the beach we drove along the coastline to Ballyvaughn, where Onno decided to have lunch and he treated me a fish sandwich. While sitting at this little restaurant on the terrace, we had a gorgeous view on the Ballyvaughn harbour. When I looked closely with Onno's binoculars, I could see seals swimming around in the water.

While we travelled back from Ballyvaughn towards Galway city, nature changed again. Wider roads made more traffic and less nature.

Afterwards we looked at the map of The Burren and the itinerary we had elapsed. Why looking at the curve it kind of looked like the map of the United States of America as it would be like when looking in the mirror. Maybe it tried to tell me something, guess what…

When Colette came back from her work (she is the managing director of a property company) in the end of the afternoon we got to the centre of Galway to enjoy the good weather on one of the terraces.

Onno really wanted to show me around here and I enjoyed that very much. Galway is a very clean city, only the moody beggars were a bit a bother because they really come up to you and you almost expect them to spit in your face if you will not support them.

But in someway I am just the same as them, but I do not beg for money.

We walked from different pubs towards the other side of the city, by Onno also presumed as the good site.

Onno is proud of Galway, very proud. Telling me about the swans in the Galway river, the smallest museum in Ireland: the Fishery Museum (in a little tower) and that the Irish love to drink. I knew that last thing already.

We got into a Gaelic pub called Roisn Dubh where we coincidentally met a group of young Irish students (and two of them will be studying in the Dutch city Groningen in September).

Today they heard a tip to a bet on a horse during the horse races. Most of them had put 100 Punts on the horse and they all won 1000 Punts afterwards and they were happily celebrating that.

One of the guys who was sitting next to me, Dave, heard from Onno that I was the internet traveller. You are what? Noway? 'I heard you on the radio last week and I even got jealous when I heard it.'

It ended up as a fun night out in Galway, meeting a lot of interesting people and around 10pm Onno and Colette had to find a taxi to get home. I was laughing about that a bit, because I kept my drinking to only one pint, coffee and several cokes.

Back at home we realised we did not have any dinner yet, so Colette ordered pizza for all of us.

Of course they were very tired and got to bed not much later. Onno left me working on my reports on his computer in the kitchen.

It's very relaxing to be able to write a lot and have all time for that. And for those things I am more a night person. Around 3 am is was able to say

Good night Galway!

Ramon.




I hope my life is like toilet paper...both long and useful.



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