Post 26 - 2015 Biking Adventure

by Fred Schlomka - 

Day 54 & 55 - Ireland

24th & 25th June - Doolin - Kinvarra - Galway
Total biked - 1,474 kilometres ( 921 miles)

Biking north along the coast we passed through ‘The Burren”, an area of rolling hills noted for their unique exposed limestone. We marvel at their stark beauty while negotiating between 50-seater tour buses that are sharing the road with us.

The thatching of this region has a particular style to it that catches my eye. At the top of the roof a heavier straw is used in a cross-hatch pattern to reinforce the thatch. I’ve noticed that this is done near coastal areas, probably due to the heavier winds. It is a beautiful craft, and still alive in Ireland.

We pass an old sturdy masonry hut at the side of the road that is part of county Clare’s water supply. The hut serves to protect a spring that has been routed into the water supply. Sunita crawls in and refills our water bottles. The liquid is sweet with a hint of exotic minerals. Lovely. (Thank you Adva for telling us about the spring or we wouldn’t have known the water was safe.)

I spot some wild mint by the side of the road so we stop and take a handful for tea in the evening, and to supplement our dinner salad. It’s so nice to find functional flora along our route.

We’ve been seeing signs about protecting Galway Bay, and details about upcoming demonstrations and other actions. It appears that powerful economic interests are pressuring the Irish government to allow farming of the salmon in the bay on an industrial scale. Apparently this will disrupt the natural salmon migration cycles since the farms will be offshore along the migratory route of the salmon.

After a pause at the coastal village of Kinvara we turn inland a for a few kilometres to find ‘Kitty's Luxury Camping’. It is not exactly luxury but a rustic site run by a slightly eccentric woman who is trying to find a balance between promoting her new campsite and staying ‘under the radar’. In fact we found only one reference to her in the internet and her site was nowhere to be found on Google or the camping websites.

However we found the place charming. Shaun the dog was everywhere at once, demanding that we throw his ball and generally making himself adorable. I fell in love with April, her resident pony that romped freely around the place, poking her head into my laptop and nuzzling my neck while I tried to do some work.

Next morning as we make breakfast, I notice a lady emerging from the shower shack. I thought it odd since we were the only campers last night. She wanders over and I say hullo and offer her coffee which is freshly made. She ends up sitting and having porridge too. We get part of her story. Her dad died a couple of years before and she took off to Europe and didn’t go home. There’s a daughter somewhere too. No tent or equipment with her, just a small pack. she wants to buy a harp and Sunita tells her about an Irish harp festival starting in a few days near Dublin. She just might make it there. Somehow there are harps and harpists everywhere.  However the lady seems to be a bit of a lost soul. She strolls out of the campsite after breakfast, going east.

We set off for Galway. We visit Dunguaire Castle in Kinvarra, a 16th century fortress at the edge of town. Another impressive example of upscale living - 16th century style.

The strangest thing happened during a shopping excursion. Sunita decided that we could use some tahini - something we have not eaten since Israel 2 months ago. So she plucked a jar off the shelf of the shop and later when we looked at the label it said ‘Sunita Tahini’ (pix attached). Check it out at http://www.sunitafoods.co.uk/.

We get rained on off and on all day. We stopped in a pub for a pot of hot tea and ran into a great harmonica player that performed in a session Sunita had joined in Doolin. Small world. Steve is from Kent and plays a mean blues harp. Brilliant musician. Fun to keep running into people. It feels like a small world.

Galway (Cathair na dTreabh) is beautiful. We cruise the city after arrival. The River Corrib meanders through town with Venice-like canals connecting it with different neighbourhoods. Old buildings. Lots of ancient stone. Irish ancestry everywhere. Lots of tourists too.

We shop a bit. I have been searching for a little leather belt pouch for my little swiss army knife but they seem to be elusive. None to be found in Galway. However I did find perfect replacement combo trousers (pants) to replace the ones I reluctantly parted with, which are black in the seat and torn. The new Craighoppers trousers are top class for my needs.

The ‘Bunk’ hostel is industrial in style, very friendly and helpful staff, a great kitchen, and clean adequate rooms. They allow us to store the tandem in a spare room close to the lobby. Somehow there has always been room for the tandem in places that seem the most unlikely.

In the evening we visit the ‘Murty Rabbits’ pub across the street. They are just starting an informal open session so Sunita goes back for the harp. Another pleasant musical evening. Good food, warm and soft beds. We are ready to cross Ireland the next morning.  

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