Mainistir House Hostel

Aran Islands, County Galway, Ireland
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More about Mainistir House Hostel

Two German girls in Ireland

by Bagillbaer

"(I) Going there by bus"



Introduction: After finishing school forever *HOORAY* in June 1997, two German girls by the names of Cornelia (aged 18) and Annika (aged 19) took to the road towards Ireland, where they were to experience a full month of character-shaping hmmm experiences *grins*. You may share them, if you wish...

25.6.97
Wednesday

It's 8 a.m. and we're at McDonalds, Victoria Station/London. I'm so tired, but maybe the medium coke will help. This guy there at the cash point almost withhold my 4Pound20, but I sure showed him what's what by using a truly glorious and wordy phrase, nearly exhausting my vocabulary: "Change?"
Now, this is great.
Apart from that, know: Our bus Nr.861 to Dublin departs at 10 o'clock (Gate 18, so much for record). The journey has been quite pleasant (so far). Conny and I could take possession of one double seat each - plenty of space for too long and too spaceful persons... You could even have a little sleep. Unfortunately one of my legs used this opportunity to completely fall asleep itself. And I mean completely.
Well, sometime this morning (I overslept the exact point of time) we arrived at Calais Harbour (not Oostende like we'd thought (God bless our reliable source of information)). A wee bit tiny this "Pride Of Calais", but we had a calm sea (though... take this relatively). We spent most of the time on deck, for inside we tended to feel a bit funny. In spite of the "calm" sea.
Bus change in Dover (say 5 a.m.) (double seats again), and that was precisely the moment my leg snoozed away.
Arrival at Victoria Station 7.15 a.m., and bye!!! *dropsdeadfromfatigue*

It's now 18.30 p.m. and we're about to leave Holyhead. I didn't get the ship's name, maybe later. We had to walk on board however, our coach stayed in Great Britain.
What else could I say? I really hope, this passage is going to be as nice as the last one. No sickness, pleeeease...

26.6.97
Thursday

We're at Isaac's Hostel in Dublin, room 311. It's an 8-bed-room without shower. But that is right outside. Apart from that there's this rail tracks. Right outside. It was a nice and quiet night. Especially since three of our six room mates came in pretty late. The other three are Sonja (from Switzerland), Maiko (from Japan) and an elderly woman from whoknowswhere.
...
Time flies. Now we're on the Citylink coach heading towards Galway. Wonder if they've ever heard of "payment". We haven't payed yet, to be sure.
Well, if they decide to kick us off, at least we're a good deal nearer to Galway then.
Take a look back: Sonja and Maiko were the first to write on our t-shirts. Nice girls, but unfortunately a very short encounter. Let's see who's next.
Maybe another cute guy like the one at the reception of "Kinlay House Christchurch", where we booked our last four nights in advance.
Will he still be there, when we're coming back? I hope so...
So well, there's more to tell.
We went to the USIT bureau to get some more information on the Euro<26-card and to the Bike Store, where we were told that there's no Raleigh bikes available in Galway till about July. This may pose a problem. But, hey, we're flexible.
At least we don't have to care about getting a bed in Galway anymore - Stephen (the heavenly receptionist) took that in hand. No using the telephone for us - I love that guy! (Because I hate making phone calls...)
We just had lunch: a tin of cold corn for each. And a yoghurt. What a feeling: Lunch right out of the tin, in the midst of the O'Connell Street. Wow. Welcome to backpacker life!
Alright, now it's time to watch the landscape flying by (they sure go fast, those Irish busses...)

3 p.m.: There's rain on the right, but none on the left. Interesting.

20h30
We're at Kinlay House Eyre Square in Galway. Room 209... mixed!!! There's at least one young male to count in (by the way it's a 6-bed-room). Conny came into closer contact with him right from the start: She was just about to take a shower, so she was undressing in our room... he entered when Conny was standing there in t-shirt and underwear, said: "Shock!" and looked real frightened, whilst Conny (looking the same) jumped into the bathroom with an almost panicky motion.
And I had no choice. Straight on, ask the guy for his name.
As a matter of fact he did understand me!
Stuart is his name and when I told him, we were Conny and Annika, he said: "Oh, Conny's the naked one!" Nice.
Little later the aforementioned lady emerged from the shower, looking slightly abashed and seemingly not able to say a word. Neither was Stuart. So I had to take over the action and introduce them to each other. Stuart's comment: "Nice to see you in your clothes." Well, I thought it was funny... *harhar*
I have to admit though, I didn't understand too much of what he told me while Conny took her shower. He's from Scotland (ever heard a Scotsman speak? It's interesting... no really, I love the dialect, but to me it's more like listening to music than like communicating. I guess I just have to practice). However he told me some funny story about a girl he met in Connemara. Or I think it was meant to be funny. For he laughed from time to time, so I thought, why not - just join in.
In only fifteen minutes we're going out with a guy (didn't get his name) from Heidelberg. The Heidelburger noticed we're German too, when he saw our guide book. So he just chatted us up.
Doesn't look as good as Stephen or Stuart or the guy at the bus, but I guess he's nice. Am I maybe fixated on handsome men?!? Just wondering...
Oh, only ten minutes left, make it shorthand news: we've got bikes (Europa Bike Hire), more later.
We called home (no news, no mail).
And the first Travellers Cheque of my life is cashed (100DM - gone with the wind).
Oh, and Oughterard is prebook (by the nice but unfortunately female receptionist here).
That's it. Let's go to the pub.

27.6.97
Friday

8.25 a.m We're waiting for time to go by. It's not before 9 a.m. that we can get our bikes.
I'm so much looking forward to put some stuff down the bike bags.
Now for yesterday evening and this morning:
Yesterday we went to "The Quays" with Ralf (the Heidelberger), Andrea and Regina (from somewhere in Bavaria). It was really nice, we stayed until 23h30 (last orders!) and Conny and I shared half a pint of Murphy's Stout. Doesn't taste too bad - better than our usual Pils at any rate (pheeeew!).
We hung or stood around in the pub, listened to the music (which was quite acceptable (they even played The Commitments!)) and yelled at each other the best we could. And it was hard enough to understand Ralf's dialect even without that noise (Stuart was no worse!)... so much for that.
I slept quite well, although the matrass resembled a hammock.
We stood up at 7 o'clock (still deadly tired) and tumbled down towards the all-you-can-eat-breakfast (couldn't miss that one, could we?). They have a cool toaster there.
Not long after, Stuart came along and joined us. I took a photo of him and Conny (he's too handsome to be forgotten just like that) (now that I have seen the photo I have to say: What a pity. He looks like a drunk zombie on that picture...) Talking about handsome men: Conny saw one, while we took breakfast (unfortunately I wasn't in the right position for seeing anything like that. I saw the wall). She was so mightily impressed and blown away that she banged her glass of juice onto the teacup. Made some noise...

Now it is 18h30 and we're at the "Lough Corrib Hostel" in Oughterard. It's nice. Nice... well, how can I put it? There's no reception here, but there's this girl in charge (pretty tough for a girl). Gabby is her name.

18h50
We're wide awake, oh yeeeeeaaaaaah!
Nonstop nonsense that is.
"You toasted the lid." (said Conny. According to her the funniest part about that one was the confused look I gave first to her and then to the cooking pot (which had nothing to do with it). This made her having to go for little girls real urgent. Never saw her move that dynamically before).
"That's to make it dry faster." (Conny referring to the proportionality of soup-amount and spoon-size)
"I can't see anything while I'm eating." (I'm wearing glasses...)
Our meal was more like some sort of a drink with a dip (toast) - without that dip, we could have eaten water and it wouldn't have made any difference.
Keep in mind:
(supposed you have one bag of soup)
If 500ml = 5x55 calories, then 1000ml = 10x55? How tasteless...
Well, however, we decided to go to bed a bit earlier today. And tomorrow we'll go on till Letterfrack. Imagine the rest, I'm too tired to write. The drive here was wonderful anyway, and not really exhausting. Thinking of "rain"? What's that supposed to be?
We went to Lough Corrib today, but as for canoeing - no chance, cause: medium sized surfing waves. For ants most probably lethal (like the big storm in "Point Break").

28.6.97
Saturday

What a day. I'm sitting beside a cat (and I bet it's a tom!) on a sofa in the chimney room of "Old Monastery House" in Letterfrack.
A 300 year old abbey that is, and really comfortable. Today we did only 6 hours of cycling (Oughterard - Inagh Valley - Letterfrack). It was "only"... f*ck, I don't know how many kilometres it was, but
1. did we have constant headwind (I could write a study about all those different types of wind - falling down on you, blowing you away from the front, pushing you up the hill, shoving you off the road...)
2. did I have a puncture. Which happened to happen shortly before Maam Cross. How it came: Three Irish boys (kiddies) on bikes appeared from behind and one of them started asking me questions, like wherefrom, whereto, blabla... that made me act slightly inattentive for a moment, I didn't watch the road (with all the little gravel on it). How fatal: *puff* "Puncture!" shouts one from behind. Oh happy day.
So off the road and patch the dumb thing (the kiddies were already far and away of course). Not as easy as it sounds... it was the rear wheel and we couldn't get the screws lose. We we're almost ready to give up, but then came - like a guardian angel - another cyclist along. It was an Irish guy, hard to guess his age, maybe 30-40 and somewhat rural. Fine, so we asked him, if he could help us and - oh, how masculine! How strong! - he managed it ("That's hard work for ladies"). We payed him with a kiss - on the cheek!
But then, when I insisted to take a picture of our hero, he nearly smooched Conny to the ground. At last some experience in that concern!
Well, after a few technical uncertainties we finally finished the patching business (makes ladies' hands black forever (so it seems)) and we took up our drive again.
Maam Cross (the Picadilly of Connemara) was sooooooo big... about three buildings as far as I can tell. But maybe I missed something. Recess anyway is big (or should I say "long"?): at least 10 km (well, very rough estimate (consider the headwind-factor in that result)). Buildings? Rarely. But then there's "one of the best craftshops in Ireland" where I spontaneously bought one of the best Magnums, best Colas and best biscuits.
Right outside Recess another little trouble occured: my shoelace became entangled with my pedals and nearly pulled me off the bike. Nice theme for another film... "The Shoelace". Just as good as "The Refrigerator". However, I won:
The lace is dead. But after a little reanimation it returned to its duties without resistance. Then we left the N-road heading for R344 through the Inagh Valley. Awesome route, honestly, but WINDY!!! But it really paid off (30 pictures taken, that speaks for itself).
Sometime we met Bridget. She's a cute old granny, who (as she told us) usually only communicates with sheep and cows. But she caught us and started talking right away and with no pause for about half an hour. She told us stories of a traffic jam caused by a lost calf that they had to push through down under the fence to bring it back to its mammy, of some French tourists that managed to get Bridget's allwance to overnight in her barn without speaking a word English and of a German couple who's tent was washed away by a suddenly appearing waterfall (after a heavy rainstorm), and they had to cut open the side to get out alive...
Of course Bridget took care of them at once. And she said she loved to receive little packages from foreign countries, containing cookies or some other thank-you-present from her protégés. She was so cute and when she "let us go again" she said: "You have to go, lovey, it looks like it's going to rain." Caring...
It didn't rain, though. Course not.

"(II) Going round by bike"

29.6.97
Sunday
Here we are in Oughterard once again. Or rather (to everybody's surprise) we are still here. But why? Well, we just changed our bookings for the Aran-ferry and therefore gained a day in Connemara. It's absolutely worth it. Today we took to the road at 9.30 am (after we had a "funny" (porridge) breakfast in what I daresay is the snuggliest breakfast room in the whole hostel scenery!).
Our way led us via the N59 towards Clifden with a nice little detour over Sky Road (usually to take without luggage, when you're staying in Clifden anyway).
Then we returned to Oughterard (via N 59 again). We arrived at 4 pm (while we thought it would take until about 8 pm), nobody was at the hostel, but we still knew the code for the digital lock (a very safe invention...).
Some time after that Gabby appeared, but faster than lightning she was gone to the pub again (to watch a boxing fight (the one with this ear-chewer)). She just told us, that we should wait for the Finnish lady who lent a bike at the hostel to return her passport ("passport" in Finnish: passi pass... sweet, isn't it?!)
Well, I didn't get to see her, but the passi pass is gone now anyway... However, there were some other people coming instead: first there were these Belgium guys, they're now at the pub waiting for Gabby (only she's back at the hostel meanwhile...). And then - oh, how embarrassing - a German couple. How were we supposed to know? Of course they didn't have a clue neither, so when Conny opened the hostel door and everybody had said "Hello!", there was a rather discomforting silence.
We were still alone at the hostel, so we had to manage the situation ourselves, but how?
I felt an urge to laugh out loudly, but with an immense effort of will power I controlled myself while the couple started babbling something about "accommodation" and Conny stuttered "we are only guests here", but when she asked me in German, what in my opinion we should do about Gabby being at the pub, the guy said all of a sudden: "Ja, wann kommt die denn dann zurück?"
This is (of course) German and means: When is she going to return?
At that point I couldn't control myself anymore, the whole thing, this stuttering and blushing and desperate searching for vocabulary and then the sudden change to German, was so absurd and embarrassing, I nearly threw myself away with laughing.
Well, we sent them to the pubs, where they, too, are now... Gabby wants to go and search them.
Besides we have called home, or rather we let home call us back, and what can I say? It's raining in Germany. In England, too, by the way. In the rest of Ireland probably too... but NOT HERE!!! *höhö*. I have a sunburn. A pretty deep one. Ouch.
I kinda look like a brindled cow: white fingers, the backs of my hands are quite red, the arms are rosé, above the elbow I'm deep purple and up from there it's all snowwhite. My legs are slightly pink and my ears are medium raw. And a bit bloody, if you absolutely want to know...
One more (delicate) thing: while I (urgently) relieved myself behind a bush, a fu***ng horsefly bit my butt and - Hallelujah! - it was still there when we went on.
May it rest in piece(s). Its dismembered body swam in my washing water little later. Bad luck.
Apart from that I nearly flattened a sheep. Like a bolt from the blue it came rushing out of some bushes beside the road and then ran about 100 metres in front of me, all the way bleating in almost deadly panic. What a sight: a hopping ball of wool with knock-knees. Stupid thing.

Thec ow ranun tilit fel lintot hede epening.
(or, as in the original version: Di kurante bissifil indi verti fung (that's supposed to be German. In a way. It's a riddle, if you still didn't notice ;0>)

30.6.97
Monday
Once again here we are at Kinlay House/Galway. I'm waiting for the chicken soup to cool down a little while Conny is already spooning it up busily. She won't have much success with this spoon, I should think... another drop!!!
Yesterday evening we payed a visit to a pub in Oughterard (didn't get the name). They had a band named "Shout" playing there (cover versions all over, from Bob Dylan to folk, but pretty good). I also set a new limit with 1 1/2 pints of Guinness (no Murphy's available). Conny sipped a "whole" half pint this time. We're both still up and right so far...
Gabby of course had a little more. Anyways she started dancing in front of the stage. Alone. Cool girl.
This morning we drove down to the pier to go on a little trip to Cong. While we were waiting for the captain (and rather long we waited) we were able to witness a truely peculiar little act: a bunch of adolescents were driven into the water (they never did that voluntarily!). It was so horribly chilly (even in the dry air) and the wind was blowing, but those kiddies just had to have their security training now. Or maybe it was some job creating measures for the local hospital?
However, at last the captain rushed in and we got going. The boat's name was "Corrib Queen" and it brought us to the island of Inchagoill, where we had to change boats and apart from that came to see an old monastery.
Quite fascinating. The forest on the island looked like in a fairy tale, nearly artificial it looked, like specially designed for a leisure park. But so beautiful! Next to the monastery stood a tombstone which is said to belong to St. Patrick's nephew. St. Patrick himself is believed to have put it there. In the 4th century! OLD! *gasps* What a thought!!!
We left the island onboard the "Lady Ardilaun" and she took us to Cong, where a wonderful castle is situated... I took a thousand pitures. More or less. And in the supermarket we got tasty cookies and gulletslitters (some bundled cereal stuff, but quite big, and we ate it DRY! Next time we'll take "bitesize", now that we know the difference...).
After we had some fun playing in the castle's park (Rapunzel, spelaeologist, staircase deco... there were no limits for us), we had to get back to the boat. And then from Oughterard towards Galway. Took us about an hour. The other way round, it took three...
Shortly after arriving here we (to be exact: Conny) had to ascertain once again that about every second person you chat up in English is a German. Even at hostel receptions... Well, our room is No 213 and we're sharing it with three Australian guys. That's all we got to know about them... they seem to be a bit macho though (nevertheless quite alright). When we entered the room, one of them was, naturally, half naked (seems to be a characteristic of this hostel), so we walked straight out again. A little later another one of them left the shower with an emergency-towel wrapped around his hips, mumbling something like "slip into something more comfortable" and then disappeared again. He seems to be the most likable of the three. Now they're gone to celebrate the evening somewhere.

1.7.97
Tuesday
We're on the ferry to Inishmore now (it's not going yet, but it's now 10.30 am and concluding from the noise outside they're just putting in the gangway).
We're not really fit, because our room mates didn't return from their tour de pub until about 3 am. Only one of them must have come a little earlier - he was already lying in bed when his buddies tried to open the door the normal way and then, not able to manage it, knocked repeatedly to gain entrance. I guess the key card doesn't work when you're drunk. But the bedridden wasn't enthusiastic about getting up at all, instead he turned to cursing real loud ("Oh, DANIEL, open the F#CK*NG door!"), so that finally Conny got up to do his job (lucky me was sleeping in the upper bed).
Hardly had the guys stepped in ("Sorry, sorry, sorry!") when the big piddling began. Trusting in my ears I could swear they didn't always hit their target *grins*. But that must have been an accustical deception...
After having relieved themselves the two obviously felt the urgent need to tell their friend some soooooo awesome stories, from time to time interrupted by someone's "shshshshsh" only to continue as loud as before. Ah well, it's the good intention that counts.
Early this morning the gentlemen still lay there in their own personal rigor mortis. That may well go on for quite another while. Who cares? They already missed breakfast anyway. Talking about breakfast: Conny actually put away 11 slices of toast and another 6 slices of sodabread! I only managed 8 toasts... no ideal exploitation of the free breakfast, I'm afraid.

11 am: A miracle! Conny "doesn't need" a yoghurt right now!

"(III) No problem, maan..."

(1.7.97 resumption)
It is 22h35 on the Aran Islands. We're at Mainistir House where we wanted to be, although we didn't book ahead. The owner is black and most probably gay. It's the way he talks. Well, I don't mind. However, we are in room 14 together with two German girls (from Bochum and Wuppertal) and three Irish (from Athlone). Girls only this time.
We just returned from a short pub visit (Joe Watty's) with the Irish girls (Aisling, Aislinn and Elaine). Only stayed for one pint of Murphy's. The pub was literally empty, especially after we left. But Aisling, Aislinn and Elaine are really nice and they speak German. Quite well actually. They sound like they were Swedish, sort of. I like to hear it :0)
Apart from that we went to Dun Aenghus where we took some dizzying pictures of us lying on the cliffs (I couldn't even raise my hands to hold my glasses without getting panicked - in spite of lying flat on my belly...).

2.7.97
Wednesday
It's raining. Great. My chain broke. Tremendous. It could be worse...
It is 22h25 now and I'm sitting on the broad window bench in room 6 of the "Lahinch Hostel". This window bench is my only possible refuge since it is the last free space left in this stuffed 8-bedded room. We share it with an old man, three obscure females and Nicole and Rut. The last two mentioned are the Germans from Inishmore.
They proved to be really nice and so we took the ferry passage from Inishmore over Inish Man and Inisheer to Doolin together (this ferry was late by the way... I was almost turned into an ice statue when it finally appeared). In Doolin we had some gorgeous fish and chips, then we went into a pub to use the toilet... and left again. Aloft we went to see the highly praised Cliffs of ...
They didn't impress me that much, to be honest. I found the cliffs of Dun Aengus much better. The rain and the many tourists may have been the reason, though. And maybe the stressing little incident on the way up (about four meters before I reached the highest point of the road, to be exact). My chain broke. *PANG!*
Luckily it was (as I said) on the highest point, so I could manage the majority of the further way by simply letting the good times roll *haahaa*. From time to time I had to "pump", though - that must have looked like a cycling pidgeon. But then the road went slightly up again, so Conny (having the longer legs) insisted on changing bikes with me. Another strange sight: one girl "walking" on her bike, the other one obviously too short to reach the pedales when sitting in the saddle like it is custom among cyclist...
"On and on, cause the road is never ending, at least we know that we are on our way..." These lyrics fitted quite well, so we sang all the way to Lahinch, where we FINALLY arrived. But our hostelrunner destroyed all our well kept hopes with one sentence: "No, no chains available around here."
But he said he'll try tomorrow, do some phone calls, see what he can do. I wish him luck...

3.7.97
Thursday
Bloody f*ck*ng day. I'm not really in the mood to write, for stress. My chain broke again, although we had it repaired at "Raleigh Rent A Bike" here in Tralee. Cost three pound... I'm gonna kick their asses first thing tomorrow. At least the hostel is nice (Collis-Sandes House, room 10, together with two Belgium women who are gone out just now). It's an old mansion where you can easily get lost.
We came here by bus from Lahinch (40 DM, just because of the bloody bikes!) and went astray through the city until we found the bloody bike shop. When they had "repaired" the bike, I steered towards a big shopping centre with a sign saying "Bureau de Change" on its door. I was in bad need of money, so I went in, took my cheques out (200 DM), signed them and then - they refused to accept my identity card!!!
They wanted to see my passport and nothing else. I don't even have one... I was very close to a nervous breakdown, because the guy at the bank back home told me to never sign the cheques when nobody was watching, for that could make them worthless (if you encounter a nasty employee). And 200 DM are quite a lot of money... I had already accumulated some nerv strains anyway when I tried to get money in Lahinch: at the wool-shop they didn't take Deutsch Marks, at the "blabla"-hotel they had recently closed down their bureau and at the Aberdeenthingummy hotel this service was reserved for guests.
FINE!!!! Let me all down!
I was completely sure that I would fall on my knees and cry if the change-auntie in the official bureau de change dared to pronounce something "Nnnn...o"-like.
But this "auntie" was very sympathetically and told me the passport-thing was pure nonsense - you don't get one without an identity card anyway. She allowed me to resign the cheques on the back and I can't tell you how much I appreciated this. Financially sound after all...
But then bad fortune befell me again or rather: my chain fell to the ground unfortunately. It was the first brandnew attempt to ride my f*ck*ng bike. Of all possible situations I shouldn't have tried it while crossing a road, I admit that. But I didn't care anyway, I was literally hopping mad and therefore sort of dance-kicked my way to the pavement under shouting bad words. One of the waiting car drivers got out broadly grinning and friendly offered me my snaky chain.
My "hero of the day" nevertheless was someone else. He waited for me about 2 km further in a small supermarket ("I need a coke!"). He was the seller and as it is usual in Ireland he asked me: "How are you?" Maybe he didn't really want to know, but I started pouring out my heart anyway and told him: "More or less fine. My chain broke TWICE today (slight dramatical change) although they fixed it at the bike shop."
"Oh, so you're walking now?"
"Ja..." *grrr*
"Well, at least you can't fall off now."
Great. It could be worse. This man saved a lot of my will to survive the day. Another bright spot was our hostelwarden in Lahinch. He called so many people and then searched the whole city for a link, and when he found one, he put it into the chain, covered himself with dirt all over... alas it was too big... and he didn't want to be rewarded for it! Absolutely not.
Forget it, lad, not with us. So we went to a little shop in the city and bought a mini-package of After Eight for him. He was severely touched when we gave him our gift, refused to take it first and then finally received it with a truely sweet smile. We (secretly) gave him the name "dandruff angel", because he has a lot of them...
We seperated from Nicole and Rut after exchanging our addresses.

4.7.97
Freitag
Hollahitti!!! My chain is in order again (for now). The guy at the bike shop said, that wasn't really a good bike. Apart from that he told me, THEY offered bikes for 45 pounds per two weeks (instead of 50, like at our "cheapest" bike hire) and they were NEW. So I told him there wasn't a Raleigh in Galway after all and he grins and says: "I know, I know!" *rofl* Funny one...
However, we started cycling again. There was a little rain (very thin), but all was nice and well.
Until about 3 miles from Killarney it made: *PUFF!* Conny had a puncture! The back tyre, that was clear. But we're used to worse. So we stood there on the side of the road, singing operas ("The Queen of the Night" at full volume) and exchanged the tubes. I guess we're shortly beyond going nuts.
Fine, so when we were ready again, we mounted our bikes, started moving... *pffffff*. Air gone. We used this "patched" tube from our first puncture. And alas, we didn't have another spare tube.
Conny voted for another mending attempt, but I conquered: we pushed the bikes up (or rather down) to Killarney. I took all the luggage on my bike and Conny took her backpack.
When eventually we arrived, the casing was worn to pieces (as we expected it to be), but as we had a substitute for it, we didn't care much. Only finding a shop selling tubes proved to be another problem. Luck stroke us in the third one, where not only we bought two spare tubes (you never know), but even got a receipt (to the hands of our bike hire service) over a three pound repair that we did ourselves! The shop keeper thought we had deserved a little recompense.
Now we are thoroughly battered, but showered and feeded in the Fossa Hostel, a little way outside Killarney. It's literally our hostel, there's nobody else here.
By the way, in the meantime the sun has come out again (actually it came out as soon as we were gifted with our little puncture) and my right elbow turned into a bubble. Island of Rain...
Today for the first time we came to use a washing mashine again. And a dryer. I never imagined how MIRACULOUSLY comfortable newly washed clothes can feel. We nearly performed a dance of joy! But this dryer was somewhat strange... it started turning as soon as the door got so much as into contact with the doorframe - it nearly spat out all of my precious (newly washed, remember?) stuff. But then it turned and turned and turned without stopping and without having to put a coin in. Very useful.

5.7.97
Saturday

PEAKDAY
Today we cruised the Gap of Dunloe. Ach, what am I talking? Step by step, first I'll tell what happened yesterday night. Because we had a haunted night, sort of:
Like I said, we're completely alone in the hostel and the corridor is pretty dark most of the time. In addition it's full of corners and our room is at the one end, while the toilet is at the other.
It was about 11 p.m. when my recently drunken pint of Murphy's started pushing me towards the loo, like you'd think it would. Through the dark corridor (only to be set on light by the central switch), then through the door into the toilets' anteroom. We encounter two lightswitches. One did what a lightswitch is supposed to do, one didn't. That was the one for the ladies' lavatory. Anyways, I went in (using a men's lavatory when there's not another soul around? No, not me! Strange, strange, strange. But, come on, I was dizzy and tired, I couldn't think!).
In the ladies' loo, there is this door that's always locked and at its bottom there is this small gap where, in this case, there shone a flickering light. Like fire or like a Leprichaun's gold pot (that's more or less what I connected with the sight).
Annie's slightly nervous, but: bravely she enters the toilet, does what she must and then... OUT!
How I rushed back!
But fate meant no good with us as we both felt an urgent need just about ten minutes later (stupid alcohol!). But: no. Nooo, nooo, nooo.
At 2 a.m., Conny couldn't hold it any longer. Apart from that, she couldn't sleep due to several insufficiencies of her bed equipment. I could have, but I had to stand by her. So we left our room behind... and there was light! The whole corridor was lit and even the toilet's switch worked. You only had to wait a little while to let it get used to being activated. And the strange fire was gone...

"(IV) Peaks"

(5.7.97 resumption)

And now today's events:
Like I already said we cruised the Gap of Dunloe. First we rode our bikes to Ross Castle, where I discovered a rowing club. Oh joy! As far as I could see they own about two boats and a couple of neonblades. I thought to take a picture of this peculiar boat house, but I had forgotten to take my new film along and I didn't want to waste any more pictures. *grrrr* So we just left the castle behind by taking one of those pretty colourful motorboats that ship tourists over the lakes.
The boat's name was "Swan".
The crew consisted of two French boys, an Australian couple, three Swiss people and a high-aged Irish captain. Schwitzertütsch (the Swiss language, somewhat German, but very strange at the same time) is quite beyond me... "Seid ihr mit den Wählern unterwegs?" (= "Are you going with the voters?")... SORRY? But luckily I have my Conny to help me along. They asked us, if we were traveling by bike. Bikes in German is "Fahrräder", but in Swiss it's "Veler" or something like that...
The Swiss guys were part of a travel group of which the majority was placed in another boat. But we got the squawky guide... *bubble* *bla* *waffle*
Well, well, the trip was very, very nice (beautiful landscapes, a stop on the island Inishfallen) and extensive (it's worth the seven pounds). We skimmed across the three lakes, the connecting rivers, through this wonderful mountain scenery and through lots of "reefs" (aka stones).
Though some people rather skimmed ACROSS them, too, instead of through between, and that couldn't possibly work out... not with a boat full of Swiss tourists anyway. So the (younger and definitely less experienced) captain of the "Swiss boat" maneuvered himself and his passengers very skillfully into this absolute helpless position. It was so entertaining! Our captain discussed the whole thing with his frustrated colleague (while the Australian husband scared the poor tourists with funny remarks like "O.k., you six people stand on that stone..." and "I hope you realize that you are on a diet now!") and finally came up with a plan. He set us ashore on the next beach, then went back and loaded some of the stranded into his boat. With the consequence that the first boat was free and he was stuck. But not for long. He was an old seadog after all.
After that we continued our trip and when we arrived at Brendan's Cottage and kicked the pedals again, I suddenly felt a sharp pain in my back. Tensed up. How cool. Makes you feel about 80 years older than you are, but I've had problems with my back since I was sixteen, so at least I knew what to do about it. Hence I went to the toilets of Brendan's Cottage (eeeever so slowly), locked myself in and started some gymnastics. It didn't kill the pain, but it was enough to let me move again at an acceptable speed. I couldn't ride the bike up the mountains, of course, but the first part of the way was flat and when it began to get hilly we just had to push the bikes. That brought us into closer contact with a sheep combo. The lead singer sounded like a mixture of normal sheep and sick pidgeon (you should have heard it yourself...). It may have had a bad cold since it was mowed.
Well, behind the peak it went naturally down, so even I could use the bike again. But there were lots of gravel (braking cramps!)
At an icy cold stream we took a wee feet-bathing-break and then went back to Killarney. Here we are.



6.7.97Sunday
Another peakday. Quite peaky actually! We went from Killarney over Kenmare to Glengarriff. With special emphasize on "OVER". The ridiculous 60 km contained two mountain ranges.
Well, after we spent the last night in the Fossa Hostel lying on the floor (because, you know, bad back + bad beds = really bad back), we had a big telephoning-session in the morning (information, Glengarriff hostels, Killarney hostels, bus company, tourist office...) and came to know that there is NO private bus going from Killarney to Glengarriff (as claimed in our guide book). So we decided to have a cycling day. How wonderful, the first part took us along the same path as yesterday when we went by boat, only the way is much less hilly on the water...
How should one know that you have to pedal up to the Ladies' View and even higher? Thank God, we didn't go up there yesterday as we intended to do... I don't think the Ladies' View is that great anyway. Again, that may be because of too many people, too cloudy weather and this far too exhausting angle of gradient (I pushed my way up, more or less entirely - in the meantime Conny was already up there and found everybody staring at her, because she obviously cycled all the way (she was quite red in the face): "This lady really earned this view!" said one guy absolutely impressed and took a picture of her (with her own camera) sitting there with the view in her back.

"Ladies' View"

But sometime, sometime it goes down again and down and down and down. Made me feel so cheerful! Especially when there was this turn, I couldn't see what was behind, but there was a car coming up, with a sign in the front saying: "CAUTION! Cyclists following."
And I'm just thinking to myself: "???", when suddenly a big bunch of racing cyclists comes speeding towards me. Or rather me speeding towards them (for I was heading downhill, höhö!!!)
The race turned out to have a lot of members, because for several kilometres we met them and had great fun greeting them as we rushed by - they were so very obviously jealous. Tja, and then we were in Kenmare, lunching ice cream, going on.

Oh goodness, what hardships were we to suffer?! Another pass! And our map showing the street towards it going straight through a valley. As if! Forget it! Up and up it goes, all the time!!! Disgusting! Soon we both lost all our enthusiasm and strength - even Conny had to push her bike. But finally we managed it and when we took a break in front of the tunnel on top, a passing cardriver gave us her thumbs up. What a f*cked up road...

Then it was downhill again for us, with great views and steaming brakes.
Now we are in the hostel. Newly built and owned by very nice wardens. "Murphy's Village Hostel" is the place. Oh, have to sleep...

to be continued...

Forum Posts

Aran Islands (Inishmore)

by factorx

I'm not sure yet if I will take the ferry or the flight to Aran Islands. The price for the flight is not that much more (40 euro instead of 25 euro, and the price from our B&B to the ferry/airport)
It also depends on :
- start: we will sleep at College Street. Which place is best reachabel in Galway: the ferry of the airport ? Is it possible by bus or do we have to take a taxi?
- arrival: which place in Inishmore is the best for starting visit ?
Some other questions:
- by arrival, it seems to be possible to rent bikes ? We are not that good bikers. Do you have to be in good condition for cycling around Inishmore. What can we see in a short day (I think we'll be just a couple of hours on inish more with a day trip from Galway)
- are there many pubs on the island ? Which place has the most (and best) pubs ? Our intention is to cycle, a guinness, a visit, and so on ...
- has someone visting Inishmore by touring bus ? Is this a good alternative (if cycling would be too difficult for us) ?

RE: Aran Islands (Inishmore)

by jazzi_jeff

I assume you are thinking about going to the islands in the summer? If so, then get the ferry, which departs from Rossaveal, 1 hours drive west of Galway. Knock airport is also an hour’s drive north of Galway in County Mayo but the ferry is very modern, stable and pleasant as well as being cheaper and more fun! Go to arandirect.com for times. A shuttle bus runs from Kinlay Youth Hostel on Merchants Road and leaves about 1 hour and 15 minutes before each departure – cost is around €6pp. To be honest, the island is too big to walk around so you want to take a minibus tour from the village of Kilronan (where the ferry docks). It will take you to all the major sights including Dun Aengus fort. You can cycle the main road but it is hilly, and the weather may be unsettled. The coastal road is flatter but doesn’t encompass a lot of the sights, which are mainly pre-Celtic forts. There are several dispersed pubs in the village but your luck will determine which ones are open. The American bar will be open near Kilronan hostel but Watty’s and the Lucky Star bar may not be (up the hill behind the hostel and Spar shop). You will want to spend a full day here anyway – arriving on the first and leaving on the last ferry if you want to appreciate it! If you are staying over, do NOT stay in Mainistir House hostel (see my tip on this!)

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Popular Hotels in Inishmore

Mainistir House Hostel

Aran Islands, County Galway, Ireland

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 Mainistir House Hostel

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Mainistir House Hotel Inishmore

Address: Aran Islands, County Galway, Ireland