Friday, 16 October 2015

Ireland on the road, Pt 1.5 - Dublin-Galway-Cong

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In my head one of the best adventures to be had is a road trip across Ireland. I imagined myself hitchhiking up and down and left and right through green pastures and picturesque villages and derelict castles sogging my boots in grassy bogs and listening to old fishermen's tales over a glistening Guinness. I spent many sleepless pre-exam nights in my dorm as a fresher thinking how I should pack my bag and go. And that moment has finally come. I am in Ireland!!! 

Technically, I have been in Ireland several times already but these were more "stationary" experiences. This time we landed in Dublin and as our vague plan went - we drove off straight away to Galway. This trip is as spontaneous as these things go after the preliminary health and safety measures: we booked the tickets about two weeks before the trip and thanks to the regular Edinburgh-Dublin flights the price was good; we hired a car (which proves surprisingly difficult if you don't have a credit card), and booked B&Bs in locations on the west coast about 120-140km from each other so we could travel comfortably long and detour a lot into the country; we marked about 5-6 locations that we wanted to see and left the rest to spontaneity.






Getting to Galway was pretty straightforward despite some minor navigation hiccups.  We checked-in in the evening and went on a short walk across town. It was absolutely fabulous - colourful bunting, quirky streets, cheerful busking. After a quick meal we had a look at the Cathedral and went back to the most enormous inn room and bathroom (with two sinks, a bathtub and a shower) I have ever been to.

Day 2 (or 1.5) was my turn to drive. I was pretty apprehensive considering I have little experience to begin with and then - only on the other side of the road. But it went so perfectly well. From Galway we headed north-west for Kylemore Abbey. On the way we stopped at Aughnanure Castle and Clifden, which were lovely but could not prepare me for the Abbey. It is a perfect mix of a beautiful location and a beautiful building wrapped in a beautifully tragic story.

And then there are the gardens. We almost skipped them as we thought October would not be a suitable season but that would have been a horrible mistake. The gardens were magical. Flowers of different sizes and colours were arranged in a variety of shapes on the slopes of the hill surrounded by tall Victorian brick walls. Two white glasshouses and the head gardener's white house were perched in one corner overlooking the gardens. The colour scheme was so finely complimented by turquoise-painted benches, window frames and fence elements. What made the experience even greater for me was that the gardens weren't used exclusively for flowers but also to grow exotic fruits such as melons and figs. Today, it was only the vinery that still stood but the daintily glassed vines brought a sense of times when grapes were an absolute luxury.






We had only a couple of hours left before darkness fell so we drove off for a quick visit of Ashford Castle. After more navigation kick up we ended up in front of the castle on a road that was no more than a pedestrian path. We took some photos, savoured the magic of castles turned hotels, and left before we were chased for driving on their grass.

At the end of day one(or two, depending on how you look at it) I felt charged with so much energy and positive emotions I could hardly await next day's roadventures. 

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