We catch up with Karli the Australian cyclist as she moves on into the last stage of her trip, going from Galway to Killary Harbour.
I awoke in the early morn to find the sweet robins singing praise to the new day were replaced with regret and the loud bodily functions of fellow lodgers. Today’s cycle was going to take me to Rosaveel ferry where I would catch the 1pm ferry to the island of Inishmore. I tentatively packed my bike and took off. Stopping not soon after to get some emergency soup and contemplate bad life choices. It was a truly laboured cycle but I made it to my ferry with no time to spare. At the ferry terminal I met the sweetest Irish women who, upon hearing that I was alone on this journey, decided to kindly let all the male ferry staff know that I’m available and apparently keen for immediate courtship (eye contact with the ferry staff was 100% avoided).
Inishmore is more than worth a visit. Rows and rows of varied stone walls lined every field, forming a highly unique maze-like landscape. There is a fort atop a hill and sitting against a cliffs edge called Dún Aonghasa . Construction of this fort was thought to date back to 1100BC. I don’t know if facts like that mean anything to anyone reading this, but that’s bloody old. There was also a naturally formed rectangular shaped pool called the ‘Worm Hole’ that was near impossible to locate (some faded red arrows and kind/also lost travellers got us there). I truly wished I’d had more time to spend on that gorgeous, historical island but the next day and I was back on the ferry to Rosaveel..
I arrived at Rosaveel and like a hungover squirrel desperately collecting its nuts for the winter, I scrambled to pick all my gear up off the ground due to a super annoying but totally warranted policy about taking EVERYTHING off bikes before entering the ferry. My next stop was the Ben Lettery Hostel located at the foot of the Ben Lettery mountain in the Connemara Valley. I was duly warned of the remote nature of the place and since I’m food’s #1 fan, I didn’t want to risk being without it. I entered the last stop shop in Rosaveel and bought a 1kg bag of potatoes, rice pudding, a Bueno bar, bread and a large tub of hummus (I embody healthy food choices). I’ve made some impressively nonsensical decisions in my life, but I’ll be damned if carrying a kilos worth of potatoes on a bicycle tour wasn’t right up there.
I headed towards Maam Cross, a cross road that would take me straight to the hostel. It was a bloody amazing cycle. One lazy google search will expose you to the indescribable beauty of the Connemara Valley. I felt like a tiny little ant human on a bicycle due in part to the sheer magnitude of the mountains surrounding me, in addition to my unfaltering and ever-present feelings of insignificance. To top it off, the weather was glorious! Temperatures hitting a high 12 degrees (beach weather for Irish people/middle of winter where I’m from). I even removed a singular layer of thermals! Reaching Maam Cross I took a sharp left turn to continue West. At that point the Irish weather gods had decided that I was enjoying the mild weather too much and needed the full cultural experience. All of a sudden I found myself cycling along a national road in torrential rain with gale force winds heading North and edging me closer to the cars and trucks beside me. Additionally, I was not in weatherproof clothing as things had been going so well up until that point I deemed it unnecessary.
I arrived at the Ben Lettery Youth Hostel drenched, cold and a little disillusioned. Luckily for me, the lovely on-site manager of the hostel Sam could see my desperation and rushed upstairs to grab me a towel and introduce me to the best shower I’d had whilst on the road. The next two nights in the hostel were fantastic. Id befriended a super lovely German girl who not only taught me the German phrase ‘Käsebrot ist ein gutes Brot’ (cheese bread is a good bread) but also combined her limited ingredients with mine to create a hostel banquette (with guidance from Sam who happens to be a super resourceful and talented chef).
We climbed the Ben Lettery mountain together and hung out with Sam’s gorgeous 3-legged goat Go-Go (more on goats to come). It was actually a solemn affair leaving that hostel but it was time to head off.
My next stop would be the Connemara Youth Hostel that sits besides Ireland’s only fjord ‘Killary Harbour’. My cycle took me to Clifden where I stopped into Aldi to top up my potato supply (lessons were not learnt) and buy another Bueno bar that I ate on the way to the check out. I hadn’t cycled far in Clifden when I received some sound advice to cycle along the ‘sky loop’ and what a beautiful view! I was afforded a clear sky by the cheeky Irish weather gods. I even managed a sun burn! A familiar and welcome feeling. From the sky loop I cycled on and re-joined the coast line near Tully Cross where I cycled alongside the truly breath-taking, panoramic views of Lough Fee beside Killary Harbour. It was an elating cycle. The only thing that managed to top that day off was arriving at the Connemara Youth Hostel, being greeted by the lovely staff and seeing my super welcoming bed that sat beneath a roof window. They also offered to wash my clothing, which at that point was septic.
That night I went out to a local pub joined by a French jazz musician, a French teacher and an Irish cyclist. It was a great night as I got completely wasted and impressed an underwhelming small, drunk group of people with a simple pint glass trick I’d learnt from a gorgeous Austrian girl I’d met whilst in Dublin. The next day I left the Connemara Hostel and started towards Westport.
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