Saturday, September 6, 2014

Éire vol2 day two

July 16th began with a drizzle. We had thought to go for a short walk if it was dry. I wanted to get a noise free (without people that is. Impossible as it turned out) photo of two Vildes (Eduard Vilde and Oscar Wilde) sitting on a bench in Galway. But as it rained we decided against it. And we were staying in Galway for two nights after all.

Had breakfast (continental buffet. We were able to order Irish breakfast as well), reversed out of the teeny-tiny parking space (being on the wrong side of the car) and started our day. Oh, the first experience of the day was refuelling. Nice lady from Avis had instructed me our car used unleaded petrol and that was to be a green pump (whereas diesel was black). So I found a petrol station on our street, inserted the green pump (black pipe with green end) and started refuelling. Suddenly, I don`t even know why, I panicked thinking I had used the wrong one. Went inside to ask for reassurance and was so relieved I cannot express. The thing was, both pipes were black but unleaded had a green end and that got me confused.
Turf in Maam Cross

Anyway. Tom lead us out of the city and we headed for Connemara. First stop was Maam Cross (didn`t remember but I had been there also), a hotel and a lake. I did notice cut turf left drying on a field. Never seen that up close.

We continued towards Leenane (Leenaun) on R336, stopping where ever we found something we liked (the reason I wanted to give up travelling with a tourist group - freedom). Picturesque views.

Leenane (Leenaun) is a small lovely village on the shore of Killary Harbour (one of the only three fjords in Ireland). Tourists were wandering about and once again I felt overjoyed not being trapped to a group. Driving a few hundred meters farther there was a viewpoint overlooking the fjord. The tourist bus came some time after us and the guide said to me: "Everything was wonderful and then the tourists came." :D

We continued on N59 and made the turn to Connemara loop that led towards Renvyle. First we
wanted to see the Renvyle thatched cottages but for some reason I had given Tom the wrong coordinates and we drove past them. I did see the white houses with thatched roofs but thought: "Tom says we are not there yet, so there must be a bigger place ahead" and continued driving. We found ourselves behind someone`s garden.

Renvyle thatched cottages
Next came Renvyle Castle. The road there was amazing. I am sure I am going to repeat that throughout the entire trip, but the roads and that nature ohh.. Stunning. Took some pictures, sat on the shore looking at the Ocean.

Our way to Letterfark fortunately took us back to the thatched cottages so we were able to stop there after all.

A group of French students
The same students ;) and a gorgeous view on my way up
I wanted to climb the Diamon Hill in Connemara National Park. We had some trouble finding the visitor centre. Actually not hard to spot at all but I saw a sign pointing to the centre and made a turn too early. Road leading to the centre was filled with cars, nevertheless we drove up hoping to find an empty space but this time with no luck. So, I parked our car and we trudged back up. The information signs said it would take approximately 3 hours for the round trip (Upper Diamond hill trail is 7km long. Ascent 442m)  I begun my clib up and agreed to meet my friend back down since she took another route. I did see the sky was overcast (and the day had had rain on and off) but I ignored the warning and did not wear a jacket on my sweatshirt (:D). The way up was amazing. I like to walk fast so it did not take nearly as long.

The summit of Diamond Hill
And the summit offered gorgeous pamoramic view across Connemara, Kylemore Abbey, the Twelve Ben mountains. But the clouds refused to leave and some time later it began to rain. Actual rain not the drizzle that welcomed us in the morning. It rained the entire way down. And since I did not have a jacket I got soaked. I was worried about my camera but luckily nothing happened. It was an amazing walk. I am a bit sad that the clouds cloacked some of the view but other than that I loved it. As it turned out it was the only time it rained during our time in Ireland.
For some reason I had exchange clothes in our car (being farsighted as I am) and I was able to get out of the wet clothes and enjoy rest of the day.

Kylemore Abbey
Next stop was Kylemore Abbey. Kylemore Abbey used to be an international boarding school run by Benedictine nuns. The school was opened in 1923 and the last students of Kylemore Abbey sat their exams in June 2010. This means it was still a school last time I was there (2009). The Abbey and its surroundings were beautiful. We ate a delicious soup and were on our way.

Our plan was to take the Sky Road and for the last stop of the day we planned to see Barna Woods (if we had time and it was still sunny). Once again I took one turn too early and we ended up in Clifden eco beach and caravan park. It was the time of the tide. We just sat there looking at the Ocean. I am so happy for making this wrong turn. Pure beauty.

And since the Sun was still shining we headed to Barna Woods. Ohh that light! Green trees, sunbeams shining throught the branches. Magical.
This ended our second day. Tom lead us back through Galway centre as I discovered. Went walking in the city and tried to capture Vilde & Wilde alone but no such luck. But we did discover an .. acrobat (?). What a show he gave! Such control over his body. The way he started his performance led us to doubt whether it would be worth to watch. So glad we sayed to the end :)

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