Cappadocia (Kapadokya in Turkish) is a fairytale like place right in the centre of Turkey. I say fairytale because the landscape varies between the ‘fairy chimneys’ to underground dwellings to beautiful mountains and valleys. You can amble up rocky hillsides and check out houses and churches built into the side of mountains or you can venture below the surface (literally) and explore the subterranean network that form underground cities. Before I started planning my trip Continue reading “Cappadocia/Kapadokya, Turkey”
I decided to do a road trip from Dublin into Northern Ireland to check out a couple of Game of Thrones locations. My cousin, Liam in Dublin helped me by sending me directions and I was off on a nice little drive north. Continue reading “Day trippin’ to Northern Ireland, U.K.”
Beginning in the dark ages, Clonmacnoise became a place where Christianity and scholarship prospered and grew. A vast monastic settlement thrived here, with a scriptorium of unequalled craftsmanship, where education, teaching and the arts were revered and where the classics were greatly prized and preserved. Knowledge and learning that went on to be taken to Europe as the Gospels were spread abroad by Celtic Christian monks. Continue reading “Clonmacnoise and Birr Castle, County Offaly, Ireland”
I feel that Ireland is enjoyed best by, not travelling from one attraction to the next, but by meandering and happening upon scenes that are straight from picture postcards. A friend once told me that she felt underwhelmed by Ireland’s scenery compared to Scotland. I asked her where she had been. Dublin, Ring of Kerry, Cliffs of Moher she started to list.
That was her problem. She had stuck to the road well travelled. I believe you have to get lost down the back roads to see the true beauty of Ireland. The other day I had intended to visit the Rock of Cashel in Tipperary but made a late start. After revising my plans I decided to head in the opposite direction to Clifden in Mayo instead. I got to a town called Oughterard and had to stop. I wanted to clear my head so I stopped for lunch in a nice little pub there.
Feeling refreshed and rested I headed off but never made it to Clifden. Instead at some point I made a right turn and headed over some mountains and into some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen. My photos really don’t do it justice and unfortunately I did start losing some light. But that feeling of meandering over one hill after the other and into valleys with the most beautiful lake scenes was so rewarding.
On the west coast of Ireland Croagh Patrick is very close to the town of Westport, in fact only 8kms away. It was on this mountain that Ireland’s patron saint fasted for 40 days and nights and where he supposedly banished venomous snakes from Ireland. Climbing the mountain, which is 765m high, is an act of penance for thousands of pilgrims on the last Sunday of July (Reek Sunday).
There is a Visitor’s Centre and opposite the car park is the National Famine Memorial. The trail starts outside the Visitor’s Centre. On this occasion I did not walk up the mountain but I would like to return to do so when in the right mindset.
Next I headed off to Achill Island stopping off briefly at Newport, a lovely town with a very nice looking viaduct. I liked the feel of this town.
Achill Island covers 55 square miles and is Ireland’s largest off shore island. It is connected to the mainland by a short bridge making it an easy place to get to by car. Dramatic mountains, moors and wonderful beaches made this island a great place to drive around. I stopped off in Keel and walked along the beach. There was a camping park and shops nearby. I thought it was really beautiful down at the beach. Keel seemed to be the main town on the island and would make a great holiday spot. I would also say if you like hiking that Achill would be a fantastic place to explore.
I love travelling solo. It makes me feel special. Those times when I am on public transport abroad and I don’t speak the local language and nobody there speaks English, this makes me feel unique. I love that people still try to help me. I also love that other English speakers are very willing to start up a conversation. This is something I don’t think would happen with such frequency if I wasn’t travelling solo. Opportunities seem to present themselves as well…
Last night I was speaking with a lovely couple in the bar of the hotel where I was staying. I don’t usually hang around bars but everyone was waiting for the dining room to open. Anyway I told them that I had driven from Shannon in County Clare to Rossnowlagh, checked in to the hotel, then drove another few hours to Slieve League only to realise that I wouldn’t have time to walk the 3km round trip to the cliffs because I would miss sunset in Rossnowlagh. I had just found out that the sun set at 6 minutes past five o’clock. I only had one night in Rossnowlagh and therefore one chance for sunset photos so I promptly turned the car around and drove back to the hotel. After asking if I was quite mad they told me I needed to stay still for awhile, relax a little and offered their holiday house to me for the next night as they were staying in the hotel for one more night.
Now it’s not everyday that you get this kind of offer, let alone from complete strangers. I asked them ‘are you sure?’ ‘What if I trash the place, throw TVs out the window.’ No, they somehow knew I wouldn’t do that
So the next day came around and I met them after breakfast where they gave me the key and instructions of how to get to the house. The town, Maghery, was over hill over dale but I found it quite easily. I, however, couldn’t believe my luck. Their house was pretty much on the beach of a town which is the cutest little hamlet I’ve seen. They had giant windows looking out to sea. Wow, what a view
So I relaxed, walked along the beach, had a few beers at the local pub and listened to the sound of waves crashing against the beach. Bliss! Now I’m not saying that this opportunity would not have happened if I was travelling with a friend but it was one more random act of kindness that has happened to me on this trip. As I said I love travelling solo!
Maghery is deep in Gaeltacht country (Irish speaking area) and the people were very welcoming. I had to ask a man to move his car when I was leaving the pub so I could get my hire car out to return to the house. As I started to move the car he gestured that something was wrong and promptly dropped to the ground at the front of the car. I asked if he were a mechanic and he said no but he had similar problems with his car. He hooked the part back up that had been dragging along the ground and was on his way back into the pub. My car certainly made less noise now. What a nice chap!
I had a lovely time in a lovely place on the western coast of Donegal all thanks to some complete strangers. Thank you!
While surfing the internet one day I came across this hotel which is located on the beach at Rossnowlagh, County Donegal. It looked to be a wonderful place to just wind down and look out to sea and I can tell you now that I have stayed here that it is just that.
Don’t expect a 5 star hotel – it is just a tiny bit worn but the staff are a delight and the location, is of course, to die for. I chose an ocean view room and was so happy I did. There was a very comfortable chair by the window which I made good use of. Even during the night when the clouds cleared the moonlight on the sea was mesmerising.
The next morning I was out on the grassed area, between the hotel and the sand, taking photos. It was fresh but the light and vista were beautiful.
Rossnowlagh is on the Wild Atlantic Way. What a beautiful part of the world. I am so glad I came to stay here.
In transit from County Clare to Donegal I stopped off in Sligo to visit the grave of Irish poet WB Yeats. It is located in a church yard (St Columba’s Church of Ireland) in Drumcliff just out of Sligo town. It’s in a beautiful setting but the actual grave isn’t that interesting. Yeats was one of the foremost figures of 20th century literature. A pillar of both the Irish and British literary establishments, in his later years he served as an Irish Senator for two terms.
Although Yeats was born in Dublin he spent his childhood holidays in Sligo. He died and was initially buried in France but had asked to be buried in Sligo after a year in the ground. His wishes were carried out.
His epitaph is taken from the last lines of “Under Ben Bulben”, one of his final poems:
Cast a cold Eye
On Life, on Death.
Horseman, pass by!
The Ben Bulben mountain is actually a backdrop to this attractive church.
Also located in the cemetery is a very cool looking Celtic High Cross and across the road is a round tower. Both are remnants from a monastery that existed in Drumcliff. The cross is from the 9th century and the tower was built sometime between 900 and 1200.