Monday, July 18, 2011

-- Northern Wandering --

Another trip to Bundoran was on my schedule and again I had no laundry done. So a few hours before the trip I gathered all of my regular t-shirts and shorts and did my best to have them clean and ready for the next morning.

So wet clothes on the backpack, I had to walk into town as my bike's front wheel had been stolen some couple of days earlier from outside my house and every journey in Dublin would take me three times longer than normal.
It was drizzling and the weather was not very promising but the energy was good enough as when I got into town it started raining even harder when I met my "new friends for four days".

A woman from West Cork into mystical stuff who for the first time was going to experiment the perks of traveling on a budget and staying on a hostel, A girl from China who had been studying Business for the past years and later became the official photographer of the trip, an Irish girl who had travelled the world many times, three Irish girls who had booked the trip together and were your typical Irish party girls, bubbly and fun all the time , even at that time of the day and my friend from Uruguay who was gonna be my Spanish speaker for the trip.
I was going to pick up two more passengers at the bus station ( a couple) but...where was the bus?. After a few calls we were told that the bus had broke and another one had been booked so to make the waiting a little nicer, we went across the street for a refreshing cup of Starbucks coffee while meeting the people who I was gonna share four days with.

An hour later our bus was there, the driver was not nice at all and he was a little rude to be honest, but off we went to pick up the couple from Busaras who were looking quite upset for the delay and then a smooth ride through the countryside, passing through towns such as Mullingar, Carrick-on-Shannon and Sligo. The weather was incredibly unstable as we would have patches of heavy rain and some two miles later it was completely bright...no wonder why the fields were so green, if you can get both kinds of weather in a few minutes!.

And the green Benbulben mountains were welcoming to the beautiful West Coast and after a few minutes from Sligo, we were arriving at Bundoran again. It was a bit cold but sunnier than Dublin and after solving some issues in general and getting the room keys, we wore the cold wetsuits again and off to the beach to face the Atlantic Ocean again!

This time we went to a different beach, the waves were actually more unstable and less smooth which definitely increased the difficulty of catching a good wave to surf and challenged my taste buds with gallons of salt walter being swallowed as some waves would smash my body and surfboard at times.
Still the experience is always wonderful and you completely forget about the cold water. I still find it so amazing how two and a half hours of facing waves pass so quickly.
The people in my group loved it ,most of them hadn't surfed in their whole life so it was a first experience for them and still I saw them catching a good amounts of waves with the soft boards and most importantly, enjoying themselves at the utmost.

Back in the hostel and completely knackered, we had our dinner (my friend from Uruguay helped me with that one) and it was time to chill for the night as the day had been very long and the next one promised to be very hectic as usual.

Early morning and after a quick breakfast, we were driven to our usual spot at the foot of the "wave-shaped mountain" and started our hike aiming to reach the antenna which at that time was covered in clouds.
The weather was an important role on this adventure because the higher we would go , the windier and rainier it would get. At some point we got completely soaked and at the top of the hill, the visibility was almost zero due to the heavy clouds and strong winds we experienced.
Everyone reached the top without complaining and after trying to spot the antenna, we turned around and started our descent immediately before our muscles getting cold.

Back downhill, we were bussed back to Bundoran and had a very quick lunch before walking down the road for yet another session of High Ropes!. I reckon this time for me it was easier and it was great fun to see my group pulling themselves up the climbing wall (right side of it is easier) and even the ones scared of heights would try it and achieve the top.
What an exercise for the arms and legs!, our next activity was the abseiling which we all did very quickly, all jumpy and smiley as we had been already in the heights and the last one...no, this time it wasn't the horrible 40-feet high balance beam , it was the trapezes.
Now, it was not enough to climb that 40-feet shaking pole but you actually had to jump off it and try to catch a trapezes nearby and swing, talk about being in control of heights, it took me a bit to gather enough courage, combined with the pressure of my group staring at me trying to jump and move my frozen muscles until I finally jumped!
Of course that after jumping it feels nice and life is pretty and wonderful again. Some of them tried it afterwards, including the woman from West Cork who had said earlier that wasn't comfortable with heights while some others said it was already too thrilling to see people doing it.

Some time-off to rest the muscles afterwards and it was time to organize the barbeque (nothing like a good piece of grilled meat to recover the body and energies) and winded up a bit until dusk while eating grilled burgers, pork chops, vegetables and prawns.
The couple was extremely tired so they went straight to bed while some of us decided it was a better idea to hit the pub for a pint and relax a bit.
Great idea as we even managed to watch some of the "Copa America" (football cup) matches and just relaxed until the cider and beers would make our eyes heavy enough to just go back to the hostel and straight to bed with strange noises and contained laughs in the dorm.

Driving time with a new driver who was very chatty, friendly and was into performing different accents, next morning we headed to the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland as Belfast was having some troubles at that moment so the route was changed.
And through Donegal and Derry, some two and half hours later, the visitor's centre was welcoming us to the stunning Northern Ireland's coast.
The Giant's Causeway itself is very small, like a little square and some people would call it disappointing, but the whole scenery and the very green and steep hills besides it make up for it and the weather couldn't be more perfect to explore it a bit before driving further for the Rope Bridge, a classic Irish postcard where we also got to take stunning Caribbean-like pictures of the sea (and pretend it was warm) with my Uruguayan friend and then back to Portrush to get some food and relax.

The town of Portrush is beautiful with a beach that has nothing to envy to some other European beaches in Portugal or Spain and we decided to explore it a bit while the sun was setting, rolling on the sand dunes and writing messages on the sand for our beloved ones far away (some messages even in Chinese).
Some fish & chips later and after relaxing on the lovely sitting room, we all agreed it had been a very long day and went to sleep. It was a very quiet night indeed but the minds needed to process all of the beautiful landscapes and sensations we had felt on that day and just rest.

Belfast was our stop for the next day where we visited the Republican murals and the Wall of Peace as visiting the Loyalist side at this time of the year was asking for trouble. The driver was brilliant and knew many facts about the history of Belfast so the experience was actually complete before taking the motorway straight back to Dublin while learning a bit about body energy balance and control.

Back in town, it was a dull weather day. I just wanted to have a rest and recover my "mojo" prior to a week of office work and running behind banks. See you later lads!