We saw the Cliffs of Moher today. This is one of few spots that probably every tourist who visits Ireland goes to see. And rightly so. It’s impressive.

The Cliffs of Moher looking good.
The Cliffs of Moher looking good.

When we arrived at the parking lot, we pulled up just behind another pair of touring cyclists. I said hello and then fully expected a return hello in a German or Dutch accent. Instead I got a “What’s up guys?” We met American touring cyclists. In all of our travels outside of the US, this is the first time in memory that we’ve bumped into other Americans on their bikes.

Lydia and Pete turned out to be great people. We chatted about touring while munching on food in the parking lot and then met up again while wandering around the cliffs. After more chatting we decided to ride together since the four of us were headed for the town of Doolin. Although a promise to meet at a pub that night didn’t pan out, we still enjoyed their company.

What we also enjoyed was our first ride in an Irish car. We stayed that night at the Rainbow Hostel. The hostel owner Carmel invited us too take a trip up to the nearest grocery store. We hopped into her little sedan and off we went. Carmel deftly handled the little car at high speed up the windy and bumpy one-lane road. It felt like we were in a rally car. She braked hard when she saw another car coming around a blind corner right at us. Then both she and the other driver managed to pass each other and off we went again. When we got to the grocery store I chuckled quietly. I felt like I was getting off a roller coaster ride.

The Irish drive their tiny, lumpy roads at breakneck speed. Yet most of them have no trouble waiting to pass us safely as we bumble along on our push bikes. I think it’s because they’re used to yielding to farm equipment and to each other as they share roads not designed for two-way traffic. So kudos to the Irish for making cyclists feel welcome to share the roads. This surprisingly civil attitude makes Ireland a special place in the world.