January 23, 2015
With my huge hiking pack on my back and camera bag on my arm, I greeted Gabbi in the lobby and we began our first trip of the semester to Clifden, the largest town in Connemara. The lady at the tourism office recommended the town, but insisted we would need more than a day to explore the town and surrounding area. It sounded like the perfect destination to begin our travels and with a bus ticket in our hands and B&B booked for two nights, we were ready for the weekend.
The hour and a half bus ride flew by and we departed in an adorable, colorful, quaint town. Not knowing where we were, I took out the name of the B&B and started searching for the street. But as I always do when in doubt, I asked a shop worker to get us going in the right direction. Down the road and around the corner was the Kingstown House, our bed and breakfast for the weekend. I pulled on the door trying to figure out where the doorknob was until a lady opened it. She kindly greeted us and I told her we were checking in. She must have been expecting us, because without taking our name she handed us a room key and escorted us up the stairs and to our room.
“Let us know if you need anything at all. And what time would you like breakfast?” She asked.
Gabbi and I exchanged glances and when she added it is normally served from 8-10 a.m., I spat out 9:30. Gabbi nodded and the lady smiled then walked down the steps leaving us to our room. As we placed our bags on the floor and explored our weekend accommodations, we both raved at the beautiful and homey room. There were two beds, a queen and a double, a small toilet room, and a bathroom with a roomy shower and sink. I could not wait to catch up on some sleep tonight.
After settling into our room, we walked downstairs and waved to our hosts before walking out the door. It was close to 1 p.m. and we both were craving some lunch. Gabbi read a pamphlet in the room recommending The Station House, which sounded like a good choice to me. As we walked down the road toward the hotel, I found myself loving the fact that I could walk everywhere here in Ireland, and in Europe in general.
It didn’t take us long to find the posh hotel complex where the brick building held the restaurant. We found the front door, but finding the restaurant entry was a whole other adventure. To our left was two green doors and directly in front of us was a staircase. We heard dishes clanking upstairs and guessed that we were supposed to go to the second floor. At the top, Gabbi peaked around the corner and into the kitchen. Laughing as we skipped down the steps at how difficult it was to find a restaurant, we finally found it through the green door labeled “bar”, which we obviously missed before. Inside was a pub decked out in in elegant cherry wood and old posters. I love anything posh and upscale and this restaurant was everything and more. We took a seat in a large booth and looked over the menu. As I read over the options, I was torn between ordering the cheaper ham sandwich or a salmon pasta dish, but decided to try the more authentic pasta dish despite the cost. The result was spectacular and well worth the higher price.
With our bellies full, we walked off our meal by moseying down a small side road off from the restaurant. The road guided us past a field of sheep, a B&B with dogs to greet us, and a beautiful view of the town of Clifden behind us making it a great location to take some photos.
Grinning from ear to ear, Gabbi and I talked without pause on the road back to town. We came across a Lidl, a sister store to Aldi, and decided to search for some cookies for dessert tonight. After a nice walk down the country road, I felt that we had deserved the cookies.
We shortly arrived back in the town of Clifden to continue to walk through its streets. The small main center of town was home to buildings of every color: turquoise and yellow to bubblegum pink. On the north side of the town were two tall Cathedrals that dominated the skyline, and towards the south of town was the Connemara Pony Association and show grounds. We walked around the corner of the main street and followed a street that led us to a beautiful stone bridge and waterfall. I stood in awe of the beautiful landscape that sat on the edge of town. My heart jumped when I saw a girl walk past me with Duberry boots similar to mine. In Galway, people look at my boots as if they have no idea why I am wearing them, thought they are recreation Irish boots for equestrians. But here, I seemed to fit right in. A beautiful town, horse centered activities, incredible natural beauty, and a classic Irish look left me head over heels for Clifden.
Past the waterfall, Gabbi and I walked along the side of the road until we came to an open field over looking a breathtaking harbor. The sun was beginning to set, reflecting colors of pink, purple, yellow, and blue onto the water that flowed in a calming rhythm. An old washed up boat leaned toward the shore and a playground placed in the background occupied young kids playing. To the left of the playground was a line of boats of red, yellow, blue, and white hues with the boat ramps and storage garages placed behind them. Gabbi and I stood in disbelief as I repeated constantly, “This is unreal! Absolutely incredible.” I had never seen that variation of beauty. It was then that I had the realization that I was in Ireland. This was the view that made it all worth it.
After standing quietly for several minutes watching the sun set over the harbor, Gabbi and I decided to keep walking. We walked up a green field on the other side of the road to get a panoramic view of the harbor and stopped to take several more photographs before leaving the view behind us. It was hard for me to let go and walk away from the view, but I smiled when I realized that this was just the beginning of incredible beautiful views and speechless moments during my time in Ireland.
We soon reached the edge of town and admired the gorgeous sunset illuminating the colors of the city. Our bed and breakfast came into sight and we retreated to our room to relax and discuss dinner plans. We both decided to relax for the rest of the night over a take away pizza and “Leap Year.” After an incredible day in Clifden, my heart tonight is in Ireland.