My sister, Claire, and I had a wonderful opportunity to go to Ireland last October. We flew to Boston, spent two days in Dublin/Portmarnock, drove to Galway, and then went to Balina, which is where I pick up the story of our adventures. I wrote three posts about our trip soon after we returned, but this final installment got put on the back burner while life happened. If you’d like to go back and read the earlier posts, please search on this website using the key words “Sisters Abroad.” This is written with much love to and for my ever patient sister; who will never, ever drive with me again.
After breakfast in Balina on October 17th, we once again hit the road. Destination: Donegal. Donegal is in lovely, mountain country. It’s further north, so it was colder, but it was oh, so beautiful. The colors were breathtaking. For a woman who loves the beach, I was amazed that this part of the country grabbed me the more than anywhere else in Ireland.
Originally, we were going to head to the castle to drop off our luggage, but we had a hard time finding our castle. That sentence sounds so bizarre; no one loses a castle. But, we did; so we went back into town and had a light lunch and walked around the town center. After our walk, we got directions from a tourist center, took a deep breath and went back into the forest to find our way.
I was driving down narrow, rough country roads and it was stressful, especially when we turned a corner and a large sheep was standing smack in the middle of the road. At that point, all we could do was burst into laughter and relax a little. Eventually we found our way. I think I may be paying off a driving penalty from a previous life with the challenges I encountered, but I kept my cool and we made it.
Once we found the castle, it was gorgeous. It was definitely the most luxurious stay of the entire trip. We had a super large room with an equally large bath area. It seriously felt like the bathroom in that room was larger than the entire room we had when we stayed in Portmarnock.
As we checked in, we noticed a number of guests who were dressed to the nines. They were there for a wedding. I got all the information from the concierge about when and where the wedding reception was being held, but despite my best efforts, I could not talk Claire into crashing it. As tired as we were, it was probably for the best. I still wonder how long a couple of Yanks would have lasted before we were asked to leave.
After a brief rest, we went for dinner. We both ordered a light meal, but despite the brevity of our order, it still took two and a half hours to be served and to eat dinner. It was wonderful to be in such gorgeous surroundings, but, we were tired and ready to get to our room and catch some sleep. We finally finished our meal and back to the room we trudged.
The next morning, we were hoping to get a walk around the grounds of the castle, but Claire let me sleep until 9 and it took a couple of hours to get organized and moving. We left Donegal around noon and had a pleasant drive back to Dublin.
Back in Dublin we stayed in another very nicely appointed hotel, but I once again felt there was a distinct lack of friendliness. I had woken up feeling light-headed that morning, so all I wanted to do when we got there was have a hamburger and rest. No such luck. The hotel offered a miserable buffet that offered sandwiches with no condiments. I forced down a ham and cheese by taking off half the bread. When we got back to the room we got organized for an early flight the next morning.
Driving in Dublin in the dark of an early morning, with the rain beating against the windshield, and during the morning traffic was nerve wracking, even after more than a week of driving on the “wrong” side of the road. By the time we got to the airport and turned our car in, neither of us cared if the gas tank was full. We were just ready to get back to the States.
Our travels after that became a bit of blur in my memory. Our flight into Boston had been delayed by a couple of hours which put us back in Boston in the wee hours of the night. We had another early morning flight to Kansas City and I can’t even guarantee I changed out of my travel clothes as I slept that night. We finally arrived back in Kansas City on the 20th of October. It has never felt to so good to be home.
We had a good trip and I was able to check off another country on my travel bucket list. At the time though, I couldn’t figure out why I was so tired every day. Seriously, I was getting 10 or more hours of sleep each night and still never felt rested. After I got home I called my Dr. and had my thyroid function tested. I have been hypothyroid for almost 30 years and sure enough, my numbers were out of alignment. I am now on the journey of trying to get my numbers back under control. I can only imagine how much more enjoyable the trip would have been if I hadn’t been exhausted the whole time.
Especially for Claire.