Thursday, September 13, 2012

Tall Ships Tall Cliffs

I've been in a week of econ bootcamp, and for real classes started this week. Academics! But, before I started getting smart, I did some touristy stuff, and here's a rundown on a few tall things I went to see.

During the last weekend in August, Dublin played host and final stop to the Tall Ships Races. Dublin was the final port of call for a race that began in St. Malo, France, and passed through Lisbon, Cadiz, and A Coruña. The race is open to vessels with a crew who is at least 50% between the ages of 15 and 25 (Sail Training Int'l runs the race - thus the youth focus), and falls in one of four classes:
-Class A: Square-rigged and more than 40 meters long
-Class B: Traditionally rigged and less than 40 meters
-Class C: Modern rigged, less than 40 meters, no spinnakers
-Class D: Modern rigged, less than 40 meters, with spinnakers

View down the Liffy

Liffy lined with ships

There were about 10 ships from each class in the harbor, and lots of countries represented: (alphabetical so I don't miss anyone): Belgium, Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy. Latvia. Lithuania, Mexico, Netherlands, Netherlands-Antilles. Norway, Poland, Russia. Sweden and the UK.

The Alexander Von Humbolt II from Germany

Clearly there were tons of boats, and tons of kinds of boats. I noted at least one of each of the following, but likely there were more I couldn't identify - full-rigs, barques, brigs, schooners (2, 3, and 4 masted, and topsail), yawls, gaff ketch, brigantine, even a caravelle.
The Johanna Lucretia from the UK (it's flying the Red Ensign, which is bizarrely also flown by Taunton, MA)

For those of you who want to get really nerdy with boats and maps (so, me), you can see the race course here:

Just an idea of how unbelievably crowded it was.
Also pictured - the Dar Mlodziezy from Poland - curiously flying the Danzig flag 

Once the ships got to Dublin, there was a 3 day bonanza of super crowds, and ice cream stand, and tsotchke stands, and occasional boat tours, and people in sailor/pirate hats, and live music, and lots and lots of cider (Bulmers sponsored the festival bit).

The tugboats were wicked busy.

Anyway, I spent a few afternoons when the weather was nice delighting in the boats and not delighting in the crowds. The best/most fun ship was the Cuauhtemoc from Mexico. I went down for the final parade (when all the big boats sailed out of the harbor), and managed to get a spot right near her. The crew sang and danced before climbing up into the sails to sail out (presumably so they can let them down once they hit open water). It helped that the crew had matching sailor outfits, and endless enthusiasm.
Jubilation after the Mexican Anthem

Cuauhtemoc crew ready to let the sails down

Cuauhtemoc crew strapped in and ready to go

Cuauhtemoc crew looking out to sea

This boy was THE MOST excited, and then got really sad as the Cuauhtemoc left

In other news of tall things - and other pirate things, sorta - I went to see the Cliffs of Moher as a final hurrah before classes. The cliffs are better known (to me) as The Cliffs of Insanity. I've watched the Dread Pirate Roberts climb them plenty of times, so it was time to check them out in person.

The cliffs are notoriously rainy (cue my FAVORITE meteoroligcal/geographical phenomenon, orographic lift - no sarcasm for serious it's normal to have a favorite meteorological/geographical phenomenon), so I spent DAYS monitoring the radar. But, Ireland being what it is, the radar is basically useless. It will rain. Possibly while the sun is still shining. Nevertheless I was able to predict a day without torrential downpour, so my photos came out partly cloudy.


The cliffs are in County Clare. Despite being all the way across the country and down a bit from where I am in Dublin, it takes 2-3 hours to drive there (depending if you like the scenic route). If you drive across Ireland, you'll learn that Ireland is pocket-sized. And green.

Look, I don't mean to be rude but this is not as easy as it looks, so I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't distract me.
If you're in such a hurry, you could lower a rope or a tree branch or find something useful to do.

The top of the cliffs are between 390 and 702 feet above sea level, which makes for some pretty stunning visuals. On a clear (or clearish) day (when I visited was clear enough), you can see the Aran Islands on one side, mountain ranges on another side, and Loop Head on yet another side.

Just a cow. That lives on the Cliffs of Moher. NBD.

The cliffs are named Moher after a fort that used to stand on Hag's Head - the southermost point. That fort was destroyed around 1800 to build a telegraph tower. Now the main man-made landmark is O'Brien's tower, the castle-like building in my photos. It was built in the mid-1800s by Sir Cornelius O'Brien to, no joke, impress the ladies. I did not pay €4 to climb it, but I was impressed by it. I also didn't climb it because there was a very narrow windy staircase, and unfortunately a woman (in town for the Navy/Notre Dame football game) slipped and fell and became wedged, and it took a long time to rescue her and I felt bad so I gave her space and went very far from the castle.

O'Brien's Castle.

The visitors center (in this instance, is visitor plural or possessive or both? I've always wondered) was built into a hill and looked like a hobbit house. It also contained a pretty fantastic exhibit on the geology and history of the area. Rather than bore you with fun facts about rocks (I took notes, no sarcasm for serious it's normal to take notes in museums), I'll just link to the exhibit here:, and show you another pretty picture.

1 comment:

  1. I love how long you've blogged here. I can't believe Shanghai was 3 years ago already. Glad to see your still out and about! Let's meet up sometime soon!