Clifden, Leenane and Westport


On the way to Clifden

The weather may be grey, but it’s still beautiful!

Have no idea what these native plants are called, but they are everywhere

Our happiness with the Aran Islands Hotel faded this morning – it wasn’t quite the mellow, relaxed, “Oh, isn’t this sweet” thing that we had going the evening before. First of all, there was only a couple of sachets of shower gel in the bathroom, no soap – not sure what we were supposed to do about the simple act of washing hands after going to the loo . . . But the real downer was having just BARELY luke-warm water, not hot water, for the morning ablutions. Not on! AND no face washers (or flannels). I know that the place was only 3 star, but come on! Can’t I at least expect hot water??? Had to leave the hotel with a beanie on my head and pretty much kept it there for the rest of the day!! And cordial for breakfast that was pretending to be juice was a pretty poor effort as well! We helped ourselves to the toast and cereal on offer before leaving for our flight (hot breakfast was not available till after 9am, so we missed that).

Pile of peat (or turf stack)

Little shack on the way to Leenane

Low tide

It’s bigger than a shack, so it must be a cottage

The return flight was just a smooth as the flight over, only this time we had seats behind the pilot, so we got to see so much more (well, as much as one can see in 8 minutes!) We happily piled into our car at the tiny airport, eager for the next leg of the journey and what was about to unfold . . . AND a hot shower! We drove the scenic route to Westport, which was via Roundstone, Clifden and Leenane. The weather wasn’t making nice with us, but it didn’t dampen our spirits. We soldiered on and made it to a prime position by the fire at Mitchell’s restaurant in Clifden for a spot of lunch. It was quiet when we arrived but filled quickly. We tried to pare back our consumption but still managed a couple of very nice salads (local crab meat and a goat’s cheese) plus a side of greens.

Crab salad at Mitchell’s Restaurant

Mitchell’s Restaurant in Clifden

Definitely!

From there we went to Leenane. The rain simply could not take away from the sheer beauty and magnificence of the Connemara. I was quite excited by even the idea of this place after several years of teaching the play The Beauty Queen of Leenane by Martin McDonagh, but nothing prepared me for the soaring slopes of the glacial valley, with the town nestling at the peak of the lake. Not even the drizzle could quell the beauty of the place, possibly heightened by my false expectations of bleak and miserable (thanks to the dark humour of the LeenaneTriology). It was spectacular!

Leenane, Galway

Leenane souvenirs

The main street, Leenane

All along this route, there were plenty of opportunities for photos in terms of scenery, but the rain was bullying the sunlight all afternoon and didn’t let it play with us. Dammit! John still managed to capture the essence of the places we visited, so we’re both content with that.

Spring stream

Reflections

Wee bridge

Westport Plaza is a nice 4 star hotel. We had a standard room, which, while not large, was really well-designed and appointed. The shower was excellent and the bed was high and comfortable, with fluffy doonas and good pillows. Just what we needed after a morning of cold shower options on Inishmore! Go to Westport Plaza Hotel

Grassy trailer

We had a wander through town to give it the ‘once over’ and immediately found the hand made chocolate shop – it’s all about priorities! The chocolates were good, but they were made using moulds, unlike the Skelligs where each truffle was a different size and shape (and tasted sublime!) – still ate these others, though!

Hopefully, this stops the drunks from peeing in the street!

Baaa-uy me!

Might be one to steer clear of if you have a sensitive stomach!

Westport is a picturesque town, but once again, the afternoon drizzle did not encourage any significant or lengthy walks, so back to the hotel for bubbles and blogging. That seems to be our answer whenever the weather turns bad, or the accommodation is not all it’s cracked up to be – bubbles and blogging! Not a bad way of spending the time, at all!

Steep street

The clock tower in the centre of the ‘diamond’

We ventured out for dinner at The Everest Restaurant (in the old church on South Mall), serving traditional Nepalese/Indian food. Very good choice – we had pappadums to start; vegetarian samosas; Navartna curry – traditional Nepali vegetable curry available in a variety of ‘heats’ (we went with ‘hot’ – very happy!); Plau rice – multi-coloured rice cooked with whole spices; and garlic naan. Of course, we ate too much, but it was such ridiculously yummy food, and we have missed our daily infusion of ‘spice’ that surely we would be forgiven for over-indulging . . . ?

The Carrowbeg River in Westport, just as dusk falls

And again

Westport, looking all Parisien!

When walking around after dinner, we discovered a ‘party town’ side to Westport that we hadn’t been expecting (especially on a Thursday night). At only 9pm a young couple had to literally lower themselves to the ground (in the street) because they were too drunk to stand. Classy. Then there were drunken dickheads cavorting outside in the courtyard/car park of the hotel until 3am. Knobs. Maybe Westport has become the bucks party/hens night destination of Galway?

The church in Westport

One of the many lovely night shots of the Carrowbeg River

The weir

About bontaks

Nic is the the 'Bon' part of 'Bontaks.' Together we are Nic and John - two travel-addicted teachers who enjoy every opportunity to go places, meet people and experience life.

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