Friday, May 24, 2013

Thursday, May 16th

     The Quey where all the pubs and restaurants are located, also contains all kinds of stores. There were jewelry shops that ranged from diamonds for in various settings for engagement rings, and fun stores that displayed an assortment of sparkles. We had fun looking into windows, wandering through stores. I did venture into one clothing place, which was a huge mistake, as somehow the clothes here look so much better on me. I barely escaped with my finances intact. The same can be said for a jewelry store next door as well.
      My sister and I walked up towards the old Claddaugh town that used to be the main fishing village. We did not make the whole way along this area. Instead we re-routed to the museum which had a progressive history of Ireland, including a statue that was once located out in the main Quey and was a site of many a marriage proposal and such. There were also a lot of posters and signs from the war with the propaganda printed to motivate men and boys to enlist. An interesting walkthrough, we did not give it the time that was deserved.

Kylemore Abbey
    A brief stop that did not include going into the Abbey, but certainly got an appreciation for while watching it. There are still about a dozen nuns there and it had been previously used as a boarding school for girls. Among the trees nearby there was a serious church too. We could not see this today but if I was to do the trip again I would include this if there was time.

Connemara National Park
        Trails! Wonderful neat wide trails! There were 3 distances offered and we took the middle one (just under 2 miles) it was a beautiful hour outside and we meandered (so so slowly) around the base of the mountain.
   We were told they have a saying here:
                   If you can see the mountains, it is going to rain.
                    If you can’t see the is raining.
This is solid advice. The weather changes faster then that of P.A. I know we can wake up to one season and go to bed in another. But here, it changes within 15 minutes!!! And rarely towards sunshine (not complaining though, that we are rather accustomed to).

        When we set out on the trail, a wide rainbow occupied the sky, vanishing behind the mountain, then made a faded appearance on the other side. The stripes of color were bold and each color was represented, distinctively in their place.  It is one of the best rainbows I have actually seen. While walking,  Lydia appreciated getting to see Peat Moss. On the national parks land it is protected and unable to be cut, dried out, and sold.  She bounced along the trail, stooping over now and again to crumble the dirt between her finger, while commenting on how rich and nutritious it looked, or wondering what minerals were contained. While I wish I could call her crazy and feel superior in my indifference, but I was right there alongside her, asking questions and smelling the dense scent of the damp soil. We wound around the path until we reached the high point of the trail (still the base of the mountain) which gave us a bird’s eye view of the lake country by Connemara. The land rolled and then flattened, like a rolling pin had gone over it and we were perched near the edge. The lakes were indiscernible from this distance, nothing but giant pools of reflected sky that broke up the greenery that surrounds us here.

      This area had come highly recommended, and we are very glad we stopped by. We arrived in the evening, so while we thought it looked nice, we didn’t expect much from it.  The B&B we decided on was Ben View B&B (simply because I had mis-read it as Benvenue, which reminded me of the name of the barn at home and therefore made it good). When we walked into the open door, saying hello, the proprietor greeted us with a warm smile while she carried an old cloth to wipe her stained hands. Her name is Eileen, and she was polishing brass she said, there is so much brass in the house passed down to her from her mother that she polishes it every other week..usually for about 4 hours. She stated this not like it was a chore, but simply part of her routine. Later, she told us a quote her mother said, “There’s no point in having brass unless you take care of it and make it look nice”.  The house had been in the family since her grandmother. Her grandmother had moved the family rooms upstairs and opened a small café type place for people and workers who would come through when the train station was just across the road from their house. Every now and then she would keep a permanent border upstairs as well though. When her grandmother died, her mother, with good business sense closed the café and turned the house into a B&B.  Eileen told us this was back in the 50’s and 60’s when tourism started picking up a lot. It was named Ben View because you used to be able to see the 12 Bens ( the mountain chain) from the front window. A few buildings now stand in the way. She told us you can object to a building because of ruining your light and all kinds of thing, but you cannot object to a building being built because it ruins your view. I thought it was great that one could object to a building and be reasonably listened to at all! If we said that in the states they would laugh so hard your only hope is for them to fall over, hit their heads, and have the type of amnesia that would make them forget all about building.  We learned how low tourism really was for the area. She used to have over 30 American tourists through fall and early spring. this year, she said less than the fingers she has on one hand. How does a small town recover from that? Eileen told us how everyone likes American tourists best because they spend more (we can't get things from Europe at home like others that are closer!) Our family would be a bit of a disappointment on the spending aspect, unless it comes to food of course! Then I would qualify as a favorite. 

      We got all settled in a small upstairs room and headed out for dinner. I had a beef stew with mash potatoes on the side. Even though I am not a huge fan of gravy, I very much enjoyed it here.  Ireland’s meats are usually from the cows here on the island. The organic and health conscious side of me was jumping up and down with glee, no hormone fed, mass produced, synthetically processed meat!! My honed skills as a chicken wrangler would be so much more functional here as well.

      When we returned Eileen told us she had no more guests come, so she has a spare room! And without any additional fees, my sister and I had a room all to ourselves. It had suddenly become a glorious evening. We ventured out for a little bit, but while finding music, and not finding any seats…we headed back to our delightful, empty, rooms. When traveling with the family, whom one loves, sometimes a bit of space is invaluable for the over-all peace and tranquility of the trip. 

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