We try to celebrate special occasions (anniversaries, birthdays, promotion etc.) by taking trips – big or small. Sometimes it works, sometimes life gets better of us. But we never stop trying.
While deciding on where to go for Raga’s birthday we were very confused. We wanted to go somewhere in the west coast of Ireland but the weather forecast wasn’t good. The west coast is usually wet throughout the year and the rainfall is heavier compared to here in Dublin. So activities get limited. We searched a few places until we saw this lodge on Airbnb. The whole setup of the lake, hills and the only house made it irresistible and we booked it immediately. And the whole time we were thinking – ‘Well, it is going to rain but we can just relax. We will see how it goes.’. Now that it was decided that we were going to Connemara National Park we planned to rent a car from Galway and drive the rest on the Wild Atlantic Way. And, maybe because we had super low expectations, we ended up having the best time ever!
Ireland is extremely beautiful and Connemara is no exception to this. Every turn, every road leading to the national park is breathtaking with each bend out shining the previous one. It was getting late and dark by the time we got around driving towards our lodge. The drive gave us a feel of being in the bond movie Skyfall where Bond is rushing to take M to a safe place in his Aston Martin. We got the similar spooky, dark feeling of mountains, gloomy sky and the lake by the road. But the whole scenery changed on our drive back in the morning. The place looked surreal, lake by the road extremely picturesque to make us stop a couple of times to take photos.
Now coming to the Connemara National Park. There are 4 trails at the national park where you can do walking or hiking based on your interest and fitness level. We ended up hiking the most difficult one to the top of the diamond hill. The trail is well maintained and covered with stones or wooden planks throughout. As we kept progressing towards the top, the beautiful landscape of the national park kept revealing itself. We kept stopping every few meters to take photos of the beautiful panoramas. I probably have a million photos in my camera of our hike. The views from the top was even better and I just sat there for a good amount of time soaking in everything while Raga was candidly chatting with a sweet, fitter and older couple from UK. What made the view worth even more was the effort it took to hike all the way up. We went with zero expectations but the Rain God was so generous to us. The weather was beautiful the whole time and the experience of hiking on the bog lands filled with beautiful purple flowers was one of the highlights of our trip.
Some of the other things you can do in Connemara –
- You can also rent a bike and cycle around the Connemara loop.
- Kylemore Abbey is really beautiful, nestled amongst the trees and hill. A very picturesque spot for any tourist. Even if you decide not to go inside, don’t forget to take photos with the Abbey in background. It would be worth it.
Also let me talk a little bit about the lodge we stayed in, because the experience was just too good to skip. The owners of the lodge are shepherds since past 4 generations. It is mainly looked after by an old (about 80 years), fit lady who spoilt us with a lavish breakfast of eggs, bread, juice, fruits, coffee / tea every morning. Her son-in-law was telling us that the building is older than Kylemore Abbey and explained us how they do sheep farming. The location is perfect. There is not a single house around. In the front there is this beautiful huge private lake and at the back are the mountains. They are living a dream of an urban person and they don’t even realize that. Every morning we woke up to the sound of sheep bleating. The view from the windows were probably the best thing to wake up to. In the evening we went for a leisure walk outside the lodge amongst the sheep. The walk was so relaxing and we enjoyed chasing the sheep. The sheep are probably the most scared creatures on earth. Little sound and run for their lives. And then they turn back to check if the world is in order again or they need to run a bit more to save themselves!
There is a small town called Letterfrack close the Kylemore Lodge and Kylemore Abbey. To our surprise there was an Indian café even in this secluded place. I must say – people really love Indian food here in Ireland. The food was pretty good and we ended up having both our dinners there. On our last night we spent a couple of hours in the pub called Molly’s and enjoyed some late night Irish music. We made friends with Garry, the owner of the pub and he spoke to us about his days in Irish military and his travel. We ended up teaching him ‘Khush Raho’ for ‘Be Happy’ in Hindi and he spent the rest of the evening trying to memorize those two words and making us laugh by his attempts. People in Ireland are really friendly and warm.
Our trip was really satisfying and Raga loved his birthday celebrations. The whole experience was much better because of the flexibility of the car. I don’t think it would be a good idea to rely on public transportation in this part of the country, because probably there isn’t any.
We also took a side trip to Cliff of Moher and spent a couple of hours roaming around in Galway, but more on that later. Stay tuned.. 🙂