Going way back in the archives today! I started my little road trip to the North Western part of Ireland on March 7th. I took busses along the way with planned stops in Westport, Sligo, Donegal and Birr before heading back to Galway.
On the way to Westport, I pumped myself up to climb Croagh Patrick AKA The Reek. The mountain is 764 metres high which is just a baby mountain compared to the big kids that are the Rocky Mountains. Still, I was set on climbing Croagh Patrick. I have never summetted a mountain, you see. As a general rule, I love the idea of hiking (along with running, swimming, drinking whisky and eating artichoke hearts) but when it comes time to do some uphill walking for multiple hours, I hate it. Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE nature. I love the trees, the mountain air, the birds and the sights. I hate tasting blood from exercing my body to the point of distress. I hate even more turning a shade of beetroot and sweating the entirety of my body’s water content from every pore in my body. Sounds sexy, right? I have no idea how some people reach the summett of the Rocky Mountains and look like superstars. Perfect hair and a light dewy face complexion. Get out of here, you are not human.
So here we are, in the bus, pumping myself up to do this. I’m going to climb a mountain today, and I’m going to love every minute of it! I’m going to love the view from the top, and I’m going to reward myself with an awesome meal and, if I can find it, a hot tub session. Yes! We are doing this!
Pulling into Westport, fog. I mean, thick, thick fog. Welp. Hiking is out for the day.
Half disappointed, half elated, I looked for different things to do in Westport. My first priority, though, was finding a place to sleep that night. There is a hostel in Westport, but it was closed during low season. I ended up finding a great deal on a hotel room, so that was fun!
I went to the tourist office to find out the Westport hot spots. I was told that the historic Westport House was worth the admission fee. So off I went to the Westport House.
I suppose you could say it was pretty fancy. Marble staircase, ballrooms, fancy dining rooms, bedrooms and children’s rooms. Can’t forget the dungeons and the wine cellar! Check out that library too! But who lived here, you ask… Ask and you shall receive!
Hester Catherine Browne (Lady Sligo) of course! She was the Lady Diana of the era for the area. In 1816 (at 16 years old), she married Howe Peter and together they had 14 (!!!!) kids. She was a busy lady and mother, but she also had societal concerns for the Irish population. She showed concern especially for the Irish poor. Around 1845, after the death of her husband, she witnessed some terrible scenes of the Great Irish Hunger. She passed away in 1878 at 78 years of age.
When you leave the house, you can choose to go back the way you came, or you can take the scenic route through the grounds towards the harbour. I chose the scenic route and had no regrets about it. In the summer this would be a very busy area seeing as there is an activity area where kids and adults alike can partake in leisure or challenge activities. Seeing as I was visiting during the off season, the walk was very quiet. I crossed one single person along the way, listening to the birds and feeling the breeze on my face. A slight mist washed over me from time to time, but mostly I just took in the quiet and beautiful scenery before coming back into society and heading back to town.
The hotel I was staying at had a partnership with a leisure centre just down the street. I picked up a pass and headed to the aquatic centre. Watch out hot tub, I am coming for you! I mean, I seriously amped myself up for this moment. Mountain hiking or not, I was going to enjoy every minute of it! I dipped my toe in the water to gauge the speed at which I would propel myself into the jet-filled hotness. It was cold. Not freezing, but definitely nowhere near hot. Lukewarm at very best! Very disappointing. Luckily enough, there was also a steam room and dry sauna at my disposal. I made great use of both of them before heading back to the hotel for a hot delicious meal and going to bed.
Day two started off with the saddest breakfast. Ever.
Enter the ‘Sausage Sandwich’. Untoasted 60% whole wheat bread, brown sauce (is there a more depressing term to refer to a condiment?) and cut up sausage. The chips are cheese and onion flavoured, which was a bit strange on the palate first thing in the morning. I also ordered a cappuccino which was equally disappointing. I left, sad and on a mission to redeem the upsetting coffee situation at least. I was suggested a hotel that had good coffee. Go to the hotel, ask for a cappuccino. The lady shows me how to use the self serve machine (first red flag) and leaves. I put my newly aquired barista skills to good use and this is the masterpiece that pressing a button created:
Shortly after all of my exploring, I hopped on the bus. Direction: Sligo.