Exploring Fantastic Ireland By Myself

April 8th, 2017

IrelandTravel Writing Award

Exploring Fantastic Ireland By Myself

I got off the bus, and departed from the new friends I had just made. I knew I had to do this alone. As I walked towards the tip of the cliff, I thought about all the places I had been to beforehand. This was the first time I was by myself.
On the last day of a trip in Dubai, I paid $200 to jump off a building. Right in front of the tallest building in the world, two men strapped me onto a swing, did a quick countdown, and I zip-lined 300 feet above the Dubai Fountain. But my brother went right before me.
Now I was standing in the town of Liscannor, Ireland. Right before this trip, I went to Paris, Venice, Amsterdam, Berlin, and Edinburgh. In all of these cities, I was with my best friend. And this was it. I was alone walking from the parking lot where the bus had stopped to step onto the Cliffs of Moher.
Little by little the ocean appeared and the sides of the cliffs became bigger, and I began to see just some of its 8 miles. At 700 feet, I could see the different layers of the rock within the sides of the cliff. There were some dark lines covered with brown dusty layers. It reminded me of the crust of the earth the science teacher shows you in 7th grade. There were layers upon layers of different sedimentary rock that took thousands of years to solidify into cliffs. The top is adorned with grass and splotches of dirt. Nothing divides the cliffs from the ocean. The grass, surely due to the recent rain, was as bright as spring. There is no path to a beach that you can walk down to. The waves hit the pointy black rocks at the bottom, where many have met their end. Even though these cliffs are not the tallest in Ireland, they are the steepest.
I continued on the trail for ten more minutes, getting as far as I could from the parking lot. By the time I had stopped, I could no longer see cement. I was about six feet from the edge, as far as I would go. The dark blue of the ocean reflected off the clouds. It looked like I was about to get soaked at any moment, but not a drop of water came down.
My heart was racing. I was experiencing this only with strangers passing by. I couldn’t tell anyone how I felt in that moment. I had to have a conversation with myself. I knew that although I was alone in that moment, I didn’t feel lonely. I understood the difference between solitude and loneliness. I didn’t need the security of my brother or friend standing right beside me. I finally showed myself, and the unknowing tourists that passed me by, that I could do this alone.
I stayed in one spot, as others took selfies, pictures of the view and asked me to take pictures of them. Waking up before the sun was worth it, and the view was better than in Princess Diaries, the first time I had seen the cliffs when I was 12-year-old kid. The cliffs were majestic, menacing even. I looked toward the west, where all I could see was the ocean meet the sky. I held back tears. Another thing off my things-to-do-before-I-die list, but my first experience as a solo traveler.
Some hours later, as I sat in a booth at a pub somewhere in Northern Ireland, I was able to get Wi-Fi and call my father.
“You see,” he said, “I knew you could do it by yourself.”
“Yeah,” I said, “Next time I visit I’ll be brave enough to rent a car and drive on the left side of the road.”

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