Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Marble Arch Caves & Enniskillen Castle

For the sixth day of our trip to Ireland, we ventured to Marble Arch Caves Geopark. The Caves are just one of the sites that comprise the geopark. There are also many trails and sightseeing vistas to explore. 

The Cladagh River runs through the caves and surrounding area. In good weather, boat tours are offered through the caves. The recent heavy rainfall caused the water levels to rise too high for the boats the day we were there. The good news was that we were still able to take the walking tour. 

As we walked toward the entrance to the caves, it felt like we were entering the belly of the earth. Down, down, down. We had a cute young tour guide. I wish I could remember her name. She was very knowledgeable. 

I took so many photos while in the caves. These are only a few, as the rest didn't turn out or were blurry. The photos don't do justice to the real thing anyway.

The formations look wet and muddy, but it was all dry and solid.

I really am bummed about the pictures that I can't show you. One of my favorite formations is called "Streaky Bacon." It looks just like bacon! (Streaky bacon in Ireland is what we know as regular bacon. Regular bacon in Ireland is what we think of as ham or Canadian bacon.) 

This picture is from the Marble Arch Caves website:

Isn't it gorgeous!

When we were all done with the tour, we had to get back to the surface of the earth. Up, up, up. We stopped to rest at the cave opening. Luckily I wasn't the only one breathing hard. Up, up, up even more. I had to stop several times on the way back to the visitor center too. Our cute tour guide waited with us for a bit, then ran up the rest of the way, every other step. Oh, to be young!

My sister and I decided to walk one of the trails to see a waterfall. 

Down, down, down.

Along the way, we got sporadic rain. The weather had been so nice that I didn't take my umbrella and only wore an oversize sweater. It is like a sweater poncho, so my sister dubbed it my "swancho." I'm thinking she needs to trademark that! 

It continued to rain lightly.

Light rain turned into a downpour. We decided to head back. Up...up...up. Wet...wet...wet.

Since the swancho was so long, my sis flipped the back of it up over my head for a hood. I felt like a drowned rat! My legs ached, my swancho was soaked through, and I was out of breath. We headed to the restrooms to clean up. I was so happy to see the power hand dryers! Warm and toasty (but still wet)! It was a great, unforgettable time at Marble Arch Caves. 

I had to get a photo of this sign on our way out of the area:

The rest of our day was spent in Enniskillen. Specifically, Enniskillen Castle. It sits alongside the River Erne.

Nowadays, the castle is a visitor's center and The Inniskillings and Fermanagh County Museums. 

Artifacts on display were from the Bronze Age through modern times. 

I thought the "bog butter" was...unique.

The former stables now house military vehicles.

I could not believe the size of this German shell from World War I:

Which is nothing compared to this one:

Can you imagine being on the receiving end of these shells? It really made me think how awful war is, especially when it is at your doorstep.

It was getting time for dinner and while I was looking for a place to eat, I noticed something interesting on the map - Darling Street. Well, we had to go see it! (Some of you may not know that Darling is my maiden name.) 

We ate dinner at Devenish Bar, a pub on Darling Street. The staff here were so nice. My sister needed to buy another SD card for her camera, so we asked our server where we could get one. He suggested a local electronic store and while telling us how to get there, he decided to just call them and ask for us. That store didn't have what we needed, so he found another place, Asda. Asda is the Irish equivalent of Wal-Mart. He was so helpful!

I had the potato & leek soup, turkey sandwich, and sticky toffee pudding for dessert. You haven't lived until you've had sticky toffee pudding. Warm, moist, cake-y, sauce-y, toffee goodness! Heaven on a plate. It was just what I needed to end our day out.

Next, we stay in a castle! Yes...a castle!

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