I woke up in a lather of sweat this morning. Why do all hotels EVERYWHERE think we all want to sleep in a sauna? I hate a hot bedroom but seem to encounter them everywhere… I found the same in China too.. I guess, to be fair, some people like a warm bedroom.. but I don’t. Anyway, if that’s all I have to whinge about, then I’m very blessed aren’t I?
After having another huge breakfast, we packed our gear and headed out into the wind. I don’t think you’ve ever really felt wind until you’ve stood on the Galway promenade and felt that sharp, strong Atlantic wind blow you around. I’m not little, yet I had problems staying upright lol. It was beautiful. I loved it.
We decided to find a laundromat or coin laundry so we could do some washing. We’re running out of clothes quickly. So we drove around looking for a tourist information centre that could advise us of where to go or somewhere we could buy a street map of Galway. We drove and drove and drove and drove. It was a bit like the night before, driving trying to find some elusive place that doesn’t ever appear, even if you do keep turning left.
We finally found a shopping centre and went in there. We found a Penney’s store and decided that at least if we bought new underwear and socks, we’d be okay if we didn’t find a laundromat. We did find a newsagency though and went in to buy a street map. They had Dublin, Cork, Kilkenny and all sorts of other places, but none of Galway. The girls who served us were lovely though, and directed us to the tourist information centre. You’ve guess it, turn right out of here, then turn left and go left all the way.. You can’t miss it.. Ohhhh yes we can.
We finally found Eyre Square where we were told there was a tourist information place. We walked the streets trying to find it. After asking about 147 more people (okay I am exaggerating now) we finally found a kiosk that was closed.. Oh great. We asked another lady and she gave us the info to get to the main one. We actually found this one pretty easily and got a few maps of the area, as well as everywhere else we might go, just in case we have to go looking again.
It seems Galway doesn’t like signs. I even had to ask where the toilet was in the information centre as there were no signs. I expected to absolutely love Galway but to be honest, I’ve wasted so much time just driving around looking for places that it’s taken a lot of the shine off my time here. The young man at the information centre gave us directions to get to the port where we’d catch tonight’s ferry to the Aran island of Inismore and told us to watch carefully for signs as they were all written in Gaelic as you go further towards the ferry.. Well at least they have signs.. I’ll take Gaelic over nothing!!!
We had spent so much time looking for places that we’d run out of time to see anything of Galway and we hit the road for the ferry. We had about four hours to do a one hour drive but just in case the directions were as helpful as those around Galway, we headed off with plenty of time.
Once we were out of Galway, the trip was really straight forward. We stopped at a little place called Bearna as I had spied some boats in a little harbour that I wanted to photograph. We pulled up, opened the car door and held on for dear life as the wind pummelled us. Now this was invigorating. The car door somehow stayed on it’s hinges and we got out to go for a walk around the old stone marina wall. Tide was low so the smell was high but it didn’t detract from the beauty. The boats sat in puddles of water, waiting for the tide to come in and lift them back onto the water. They were in all sorts of conditions, ranging from fairly new to “no way would you get me on that boat in these waters”.
We wandered around for quite a while, just drinking in the scenery and the whole experience. I had bought a furry hat a few days ago and today I was really pleased I did.. After some more photos and walking, we decided to have a quick drink at O’Grady’s on the Pier which was opposite the marina. We walked in and were hit by the warmth and the atmosphere. It was so gorgeous we decided to have lunch there. And what a lunch it was.
This was the best food I’d eaten since I arrived. I ordered a marinated, roast chicken supreme in a chorrizo puree with vegetables and it was to die for. Wendy ordered fish and chips and that too looked fantastic. This little restaurant had won many awards and rightfully so. The service was great too and we felt like Very Important People. We lazed there for quite a while, soaking up the experience till we decided we really should be on our way.
Walking back out into the icy blast, we looked over and realised the tide was starting to come in, so we had to go take a few more photos of course. Finally, we fought our way back into the car, managing to keep the car door still on it’s hinges and headed back off towards Rossnaveel where we’d catch the ferry. This country side is a lot harsher than the other parts of Ireland we’ve been to so far. The wind and the sea spray would be responsible for the lack of vegetation in areas. As we drove along, we saw a graveyard up on a hill overlooking the ocean, so of course we had to stop. Then we saw stone fences in fields of green, so of course we had to stop. Photo opportunities abound.
Finally getting to Rossnaveel, we parked the car in the overnight carpack, packed a small overnight bag each and headed over to the ferry. They told us we had to be at the ferry by 5.30 for a 6 oclock departure over to Inismore. Trouble is, there is nowhere to sit that is out of the cold. There are bus shelters there but they are still exposed to the wind and the seats are made out of stainless steel. We couldn’t board the ferry till 6pm so by that time, my bum was frozen solid and that is some big freeze lol.
Looking over to one of the other ferries that was going to another island, we saw a coffin being put on with flowers being delivered to the ferry too. It’s a different life for those on these islands. I guess it’s a lot easier now than it was for previous generations. The people waiting for the ferry were a mixed assortment of locals heading home, backpackers and hikers heading off for a walking tour, people with dogs and us.
We boarded and settled in for the 40 minute trip across the waters. It was rough but not too bad. The trip to Rottnest Island from Fremantle was a lot rougher than this trip, though I have no doubt it can get extremely violent in some weather conditions. The winds were expected to get rough at about 10pm so we were pleased we would be well on the island by that time. As we arrived and disembarked, a gentleman approached us and asked where we were going. When we told him we were staying at Clai Ban, he said he could drop us off there in his mini bus. He does the tours of Inismore so we’ll use his services tomorrow.
Arriving at Clai Ban, we were greeted by the owner, Bartley and shown to our room. I have to tell you here, that I didn’t know what to expect. I had done most of our booking of accommodation on booking.com but when I phoned to book the tickets for the ferry, the lady offered us a full package. I could have booked a room for 70 euro for the night and the ferry was 50 euro.. The package was 100 euro, ferry and accommodation included. So we took it. As we headed over I started to regret my decision as I didn’t know what to expect accommodation wise.
Well, we were not only pleasantly surprised, we were absolutely delighted. We got dropped to a beautiful cottage overlooking the ocean. Our room was bright and clean and well furnished. The en suite bathroom was tastefully decorated and spotlessly clean. This was gorgeous accommodation. We couldn’t see a lot from our window at night but knew it would be a glorious sight in the morning.
We went down to the pub two doors down and walked into everything we imagined an Irish pub to be. Peat was burning in the fireplace (damn that stuff smells good), the place was warm, the lighting was low but charming and the food smells were delightful. We got a table near the fireplace and roasted. The waiter came over and took our order and bought us our drinks. The food was really delicious, the drinks went down a treat and we savoured our time there before we headed back to Clai Ban for the night.
Once again, we were both exhausted so settled in for a reasonably early night (very early by my standards) and slept the sleep of two very happy women..