Saturday, 16 November 2013

Heading West for the weekend: Ennis, Carrigaholt and all that we could see on our way

It was my son's birthday a couple of months ago. Even though we do not need an excuse to do new things and discover new places, good excuses are always welcome, specially if we're thinking of spending the weekend away.... (€€€)

So we had a fantastic excuse, and we had some guests who were visiting to celebrate the birthday with us.... my husband and I agreed immediately: let's head West!

The West of Ireland has an amazing attraction: the sharp broken cliffs, the wild nature, the lively villages, the deep traditions.... more than enough, at least for us, to pay a visit every time we have the opportunity.

This time we had a very clear idea of where we wanted to go: we had promised the kids to take a boat trip @ the Shannon estuary (the boat leaving from Carrigaholt) to see the bottlenose dolphins.

As usual, we waited till last minute to arrange everything (we're hopeless!): on the Thursday morning I called the boat trips company to ask if there would be trips during the weekend. They did not confirm, but I made a booking and they promised they would call me first thing on Saturday morning to confirm.

On Thursday evening we started looking for suitable accommodation for all of us.... difficult task, very difficult task! First, as usual we started calling holiday homes to rent in the area, but during late spring and summer these places are only rented for weeks and not weekends, so we had to forget about the idea of self catering accommodation. B&Bs... they were all fully booked for the weekend or they did not have enough rooms for all of us (5 adults + 2 kids) or they were just too expensive for our budget. We were stuck!

When we were about to give up, we remembered that we had some time ago read an article about Rowan Tree Hostel in Ennis. It sounded like the perfect location (Ennis is a great place to stay) and the prices just seemed unbeatable. They had rooms available for the weekend so we made the booking.

We arrived there on Friday evening. The place is located in the town, right beside river Fergus so it is not difficult to find. Nice location, isn't it? 

Went upstairs and left our luggage in the bedrooms: two huge ensuite bedrooms suitable for six people each that we had booked exclusively for us (do not expect luxurious rooms, but clean and spacious). 

The boys loved the bunkbeds and changed beds three or four times before choosing the one they wanted to sleep in :-)

On the way up we saw the laundry room and the kitchen (big and clean with a lovely and welcoming smell of homemade dinner- Spanish tortilla!- that made us all instantly feel hungry)

Beside the kitchen, the big dining room with quite a few tables where different groups of guests were enjoying their meals. Great atmosphere that made me go back to my twenties (long long ago), when we travelled around New Zealand staying in Youth Hostels - what a great experience! This is where we had breakfast the following morning before heading to Carrigaholt

The next day was quite sunny, not very warm but good to go on the boat. We arrived in Carrigaholt just in time!

The trip... really good. We couldn't see the dolphins! but the sharp coast looks absolutely amazing from the water - the pictures do not capture the wild beauty of the cliffs - you have to be there, feel the salty wind and almost touch the rough rock constantly hit by the Atlantic waters to judge. If you trust my judgement, I would strongly recommend the trip, even if sometimes you do not see the bottlenose dolphins

The kids had a great time (it was really cold on the boat, but they enjoyed every minute!)

They even went upstairs to meet the captain! They were sooo honoured :-)

Back to land our weekend away was coming to an end. After leaving the boat we went to the car and we made one last stop to have lunch before heading to Dublin: Kilkee. We went directly to The Strand, where we had been before

there we learnt about very famous guests they've had (apart from us, of course!): Che Guevara, who had Irish ancestors!! his great grandad was from Galway, and apparently he had not forgotten his roots.... of course we had a great lunch, as we always do when we visit the place

The super short weekend break came to an end. On Monday, back to school, back to the office, back to routine, but with our memories full of great experiences lived the previous days :-)

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