Monday -- Tour through the Connemara region
Today, we left our little home in Galway and continued along our way. After stopping to find an ATM machine and a gas station, we made our way out along the coast road into the Connemara. I fear that I probably had a better experience than Joel. He drove... I got to just sit and take it all in.
Connemara is beautiful... it's open and rugged... We managed to drive through it on one of the only two days of Irish summer with beautiful blue skies and pretty white clouds. It kind of reminded us of driving through Montana on our way to Glacier National Park. I'm not sure I took many pictures... just drank it all in.
We drove up and down valleys through the mountains until we got to Clifden, where we stopped to walk around a bit and pick up some lunch... oh, and some shortbread. We started back to the Sky Road (which is amazing pretty) until we got to a castle gate. A short hike down a road through someone's farm (with cows and horses for me to say Hello to!) took us to Clifden Castle, which I thought was completely fun.
It's not a terribly old castle, comparatively, but falling apart and open, so it was fun to wander around inside the floor of the place.. peering up the tower, finding a little alcove with the prettiest of views -- imagining what it would have been like to be the lady of the house and whatnot.
Back to the car, we continued our way along the Sky Road with such beautiful views of the ocean and then continued our way up the freeway. By then, it was getting fairly warm, Joel needed to change into shorts, and I needed to pee (again) -- so we stopped into Connemara National Park to use their bathroom and make some choices. The day was getting in so we could either hike at the park or go to Kylemore Abbey but not both.
On to Westport which was our home for the next couple days. We had a lovely room... lots of space, and the B&B was a little bit in the country. With a cow and calf living across the road, which I loved. Poor cow... every time a car drove by, it had to moo at it. We walked into the Wesport Quay for some dinner and then on to the pub on the corner, where they had a bit of traditional music played that evening, Very nice day!
TUESDAY -- Day in Westport
Today, we had a little bit of a quieter day with a full day just in Westport. (If we come back, I would plan more of these days... and less days driving helter-skelter around the country. I sort of knew that coming in... but this is a good "skim the top" trip for our first time.)
After breakfast, we drove into town and walked to the bus station where we picked up a Tour of Westsport bus. It drove us all through town, giving a bit of history along the way, through the Westport House lands, and then down the highway to a pub at the foot of Croagh Patrick. Here, we stopped for about 20 minutes for refreshments and chats. I learned that the boy who served us, about 14 years old, climbs the mountain nearly every morning (a 2 hour climb) to open the church at the top, before coming back down.
A bit of lunch and then we came back to the B&B to rest a bit. Joel took a nap in our room, while I spent much of the afternoon in the den (because the sun room was way too hot!) to catch up on our first few days.
We returned to Westport that night by way of a 2 mile walk on a bike path for a quick bite of dinner and on to a pub that I'd heard good reviews for the pub and their nightly trad session.
I'd told Joel the day before that I would be really happy if I had one experience that fit the stereotypical Irish pub experience... but truthfully, I didn't know if it really existed or if it was just a nice story of a place that once did... but had perhaps moved on.
We walked in and made our way to the bar -- where we made the acquaintance of Philip White. I'm fairly certain that Philip White was an insane leprechaun in another lifetime. I was rather delighted to observe him all night... though I'm not sure he was entirely stable. He actually sort of reminded me of one of the drunk characters in the town of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland. But he was sort of the inebriated greeter of the place... like at Walmart.
A short time later, we met an older gentleman whose name I never got... but who we spent the better part of the night talking with and who I thoroughly enjoyed. Opinionated and feisty... but I think lonely and happy to have someone to talk to. He had lost his wife of 33 years to cancer four years earlier -- and still missed her very very much Anyway.. we talked for about 3 hours or so... buying drinks, laughing, telling stories, and the like -- and I came home very happy. And very very drunk.
Also, I peed in the bushes.