Travel # 19 -- April 8-9, 2005
Clifden and Connamar National Park

By Bob Corbett

Pope John Paul IIís funeral on Friday.

Today was our 15th day in Ireland on this trip, and the first morning we didnít have breakfast at our B&B. We had to catch an early bus and no one was around at the hotel when we left. Last night was also our very first night in a hotel rather than a B&B. I rather suspect that had we been in a B&B they would have happily given us a breakfast before the bus came even if it were inconvenient for them. Big difference in the marvelous Irish B&Bs and hotels.

However, we werenít to be long without food. When we arrived back in Galway we went across the street from the bus depot to a lovely pub where I had a full Irish breakfast, puddings and all while Sally got a ďmini-Irish.Ē

At 11 AM we were back on a bus, bound just an hour an half away to Clifden. Yesterday we had a day of a huge amount of walking on the Cong Nature Trail, but today we were going to sight-see via bus. The trip to Clifden is through the southern edge of the exciting Connamara National Park, and there are lakes and rivers everywhere, lots of fascinating fields and stone walls, lots and lots of sheep and almost no people or villages.

Yesterday had been quite chilly and rainy, today was sunny, but chilly and windy and on the trip from Cong to Galway we had actually see SNOW on many of the houses and cars in the early morning.

We didnít do much. This trip was about the lovely scenery, and though we had thought to take a nice walk out of Clifden, the winds were so strong and cold that we took a quiet day, sitting in a pub (having a rather mediocre meal) and then watching some of the ceremonies connected with the popeís funeral.

On Saturday, since the weather held as cold and windy, we passed up a walk we wanted to take down into the valley, and hopped a bus to head on back to Ennis, on our way to our next longer stop Ė Doolin.

Normally, in summer, we could have taken a bus back to Galway (and then on south to Ennis) via the northern part of the circle of Connamara National Park, but that bus doesnít run off-season. So we returned the way we had come. No matter, the scenery was no less awesome and beautiful this time than it was the day before. And the repetition was in no way boring.

Back to Galway by mid-afternoon, we took a bus on to Clifden and, much to our surprise and that of Mary, our hostess, we ended up back at The Grey Gables where we never expected to be. It was Saturday evening and we our reservation in Doolin was not until Monday, so we decided to spent Sunday night here in Ennis as well.

It was a marvelous evening. We barely dropped out bags in our same room we had had before, and headed off for The Old Ground Hotel and The Poetís Corner Pub. It was just after 4 PM and as we walked up to the pub I told Sally this was a great time to go. The lunch hour was over, the dinner hour not begun, the pub would be utterly empty and we would have our choice of tables. Ha! Iím pretty lousy at predictions! It was utterly jammed, people standing three deep at the bar. Fortunately this was for the Irish Sweepstakes horse race and when we went up into the poetís corner itself, a table had been abandoned since the race was about to be run on the TV which was near the bar. We grabbed the empty table and simply FEASTED. Again we shared appetizers and then shared a huge leek and bacon quiche; oh my was that tasty. We walked around town a bit after that lovely meal and took a few treats home to have with wine in the later evening, me hoping there might be some soccer on TV, but it was all news of the pope.

These were some of the quietest days we had on the trip, but just lovely. Restful, beautiful, tasty food, a very relaxed atmosphere. I like traveling this way.

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Bob Corbett