Today was kept fairly simple. Get up early. See the band off. Get the rental car. Find our way to our Airbnb for the night.
We were all up early since we had to be on the bus and headed toward the airport at 7:00am to drop off the FS&F crew. Since they all had bought souvenirs, getting through customs was going to take a lot longer going back than it had coming over. Once we reached the airport, there were hugs and kisses all around as we said goodbye to the people we’d grown close to over the last ten days. In short order, they all had their boarding passes printed and were headed through the gates toward home. We may have all mostly started out as strangers, but there are now quite a few that I would be happy to see again, and who I plan on staying in touch with. It was a great group to travel with, and I am so glad we had this opportunity.
As we were rounding up our stuff, I realized that I left my scarf and small blanket at the hotel! I sent them an email as soon as I could get connected to the WiFi, and just to be safe I went over to the information desk to ask if there was a phone I could use to call them. She was very nice, calling the number for me and waiting while it rang and rang, before hanging up and trying again. When there was still no answer for the second time, she took my information and said she’d keep trying to ring them, and call out on the speaker to me if she was able to talk to someone. Much to my surprise, the hotel was very prompt in emailing me a response, and after a quick check by hotel staff, they had located my scarf and blanket and told me it would be waiting at the hotel for me to pick up later this week when we stayed in Limerick again. Thank goodness for Irish hospitality.
We made our way over to the Enterprise station a little earlier than planned, and after waiting for a little while, mom finished filling out the paper work and we walked our stuff out to the car. It is very frustrating trying to rent a car when you are under 25 years of age. It get expensive and there is extra paperwork, so mom gets stuck with all of the driving during this trip. Sorry mom. Once we got loaded in, we set of for Westport, Co. Mayo, Ireland. After discussing traffic rules and reiterating the importance of staying on the left side of the road, mom quickly got the hang of driving. The only part we all are still uncomfortable with is how fast everyone flies down skinny roads, often times crossing over into the other lane. all three of us catch out breath a bit when it happens, no matter how many times we see it. The way I planned out the drive was to take us around the Connemara National Park on the way since that was one of the reasons we chose to start in this area of Ireland. After having been up all morning and afternoon already, by the time we had driven about an hour, dad and I were falling asleep in the car, ready for bed. We stopped briefly at the Connemara Visitor Center to get information about the park, and discovered that the following morning would have a guided nature walk talking about the flora and fauna of the area, and also the famous Connemara ponies. With that in mind, we set a time to come back early the next morning so we could explore the park at our leisure after going on the walking tour.
Once we left Connemara, it took us about another hour to make it to Westport, and about another 30 minutes to figure out how to get to our Airbnb. But once we were there, we were greeted by our host, Evleen, who served us coffee and tea and chatted with us a bit about the house and surrounding area. Her home is lovely, with eclectic decorations, bright colors, and plenty of space for the amount of people staying with her. We also met another of her guests who was kind enough to sit with us in the parlor and give us some history on the area, and some recommendations on where to stop during the next leg of our trip toward Bushmills. However, after talking for a while, we all were feeling the effects of the early morning and decided to turn in for the night. After all, we had all of the next day to explore Connemara and Westport.