There’s something special about places where land meets the sea — I suppose the same must be true about that place right on the edge of Earth’s atmosphere, though until Richard Branson invites me on a Virgin Galactic flight I’ll just have to assume this is the case.
Sometimes, this meeting place is gentle: Grains of sand bridging the gap between firm footing and water, waves rolling in with the calming sound only the surf can muster. Then there’s the rugged, raw, weather-beaten place, where the forces of nature are on display and you can see and feel the tug of war between land and sea; where all your senses are bombarded by the power of nature.
The Western coast of Ireland, harshly exposed to the winds of the Atlantic, features one of the most incredible sights I’ve experienced: The Cliffs of Moher. Unknowingly, I had seen these impressive cliffs under the guise of “The Cliffs of Insanity” in The Princess Bride repeatedly for most of my childhood (and somewhat less-regularly in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince) and seeing them in person makes their fictional moniker appear rather fitting. This is a place that inspires stories, fosters imagination, intimidates and energises all at once.
The cliffs are so immense it’s nearly impossible to make out the shapes of people standing or walking along the ridge as you look back, though you know there are scores present as you’ve walked past them to get to this point. The row of jagged shapes jutting out into the sea, with their sheer drop from the mostly-unprotected edge (a rare thing in this age of Health and Safety concerns) dwarfs nearly all signs of humanity — even the towers, though impressive up close, are unable to retain any sense of scale.
The sound of the ocean crashing into the base of the cliffs 700 meters below is distant, yet still imposing. Where the calm whisper of rolling waves gently caressing a beach can feel quite personal, the constant, unrelenting force of the Atlantic Ocean raging at the stoic face of this island with such intensity creates a noise that reaches deep into your bones, reminding you exactly how small and insignificant you are.
Though there are no words to sufficiently express how it feels to witness a place like this for yourself — I struggle to put useful sentences together when attempting to describe the young intensity of Iceland’s impressive landscape, and can only do slightly better for any of my other favourite places around the world — I shall leave you with a meagre attempt: Not until you have been to the edge of the world will you truly begin to understand the depth of your emotions.