Don't Go to Cliffs of Moher
Cliffs of Moher - a no-go destination?
I did some travelling over the weekend. One of the places on my itinerary was the famous Cliffs of Moher, probably the most famous touristic gathering point in the west of Ireland. At 214 m, they are the highest cliffs on the whole island and the view is... well... magnificent. BUT (and this is really a huge, huge but) one day someone decided it would be a good idea to pour a lot of concrete all over the place and to start charging an outrageous amount of money from people wishing to see the nearly-spoilt masterpiece of Mother Nature.
Visiting Cliffs of Moher
So, let me quickly tell you what happens when you arrive on the spot.
After a picturesque drive along a winding road you are finally there. Not much of anything around - pastures, stone walls, and lovely double yellow line on both sides of the road for good few hundred meters. If you're not from Ireland you may not know - double yellow line means YOU CANNOT PARK THERE. Never ever, under no circumstances. What you can do instead - and what owners of the place really badly want you to do - is to drive to the car park. Spacious, within convenient distance... And charged for at 6.50 a person. Which, if you have a full car, means you're paying thirty quid on the spot. Now, let me tell you what thirty quid can buy you these days. Enough petrol to go from Galway to Dublin and back (well, unless you have a monster of a car with huge engine). About fifteen frozen pizzas. A plane ticket to UK and back if you book in advance. Broadband for a month - and there will still be some left for your mobile credit. I could go on.
But what you're actually paying for? In theory, the offer sounds pretty generous. You get the parking. You're allowed to go and have a look at the cliffs. You can enter the museum. How lovely.
What are the tricky bits, then?
If you happen not to be in the mood for education - woe is you. You can not pass on the museum ticket - at least on paying for it.
What if your idea of a museum consists of something more than a few enlarged pictures with uninteresting subtitles? Bad luck, because basically this is what you're getting.
What if you've seen the cliffs a hundred times and want to have a quiet smoke in the car while your Auntie is oohing and aaaahing over the views? It's still going to cost you 6.50.
Don't know how about you, but I like to choose what I'm paying for. I hate being forced to splash out for the whole package if I'm only interested in a tiny bit. I feel it's a cheap trick trying to squeeze money out of customers and I hate being cheaply tricked. Anyone with me?
And you know what is the best part?
Not so long ago, there was no concrete over the Cliffs. There was no museum, no restaurant, no 'Do not go there' signs, just pure, stunning, magnificent nature. Just a few warnings - well, you have to be careful if you don't want to be blown off. Then the enterpreneurs arrived and ruined the place, killed the atmosphere. The whole complex stinks of commercialism, of making money, of milking the tourists. Officially, the stone walls are there to stop suiciders from jumping off. If I wanted to kill myself in this showy way, no waist-high wall would stop me, that's for sure.
Those people killed one of the prettiest places in Ireland. For that, I'm supposed to pay them substantial money and feel grateful. Goddamnit!
So, what can you do?
The Cliffs are worth seeing and no greedy bastards should stop you from going there. Well, you will have to shut your eyes for all the concrete and pretend it's simply not there, but fortunately nothing happened to the actual cliff face and to the ocean. The waves still break furiously far, far below you. Plus, there are ways to get around the rules.
You can not park at the very site, but drive few hundred meters on and you'll find good few driveways with locked gates and lonely pastures behind them. Leaving your car there is not completely riskless, but those spots look so unused that there is no real gamble. Then it's only a bit further to walk and you can enjoy the views completely free, whether there's two or ten of you.
If you don't feel adventurous and don't want to leave your vehicle in a not-exactly-legal place, just remember - if you drive along the coast road, what you'll see will be mostly... cliffs, cliffs and some more cliffs. You can stop anywhere, take pictures, enjoy the views. These cliffs may be a few meters lower than The Magnificent Mohers, but it does not take anything away from their beauty. It does take swarms of tourists away, though, and I definitely can live with that. I bet that you can, too.
If you absolutely have to go to the Cliffs of Moher...
...go on Christmas Day.
No, I'm not kidding.
I've visited Cliffs of Moher on Christmas Day 2011 and it was a wonderful experience (well, as wonderful as it could possibly be, all things considered).
There were very few visitors around - certainly no tourist-laden coaches.
Car park was empty, and so were money-collector booths, but surprisingly, the barrier at the entrance was up. I presume the management decided to make a Christmas present of free parking to the few eccentrics willing to swop TV and overeating for some sightseeing.
To top it all, local and intercity roads were blissfully free of traffic.
Only the weather left much to be desired, but in Ireland this can happen in any season.
What do you think about Cliffs of Moher 'development'?
What is your favourite way of experiencing nature? Do you prefer broad walkways and a restaurant or some wilderness and a muddy path? What did you like better: the Cliffs before or after the 'developments'? In short...
What they did to the Cliffs of Moher is...
Fight for it!
Since I'm getting a lot of feedback with contrasting opinions, why not turn it into a debate? Go on, say it, are you pro or contra? (And thank you, Pat, for giving me the idea)
Do you like Cliffs of Moher these days?
You totally agree? Never seen worse rant in your life? Or you just want to say 'hi'? Don't hesitate, type away!