Mt Etna!!

Mt Etna is Europe’s largest active volcano located in Sicily, in southern Italy. Mt Etna has a complex geologic and tectonic history and has been the centre of many devastating eruptions in the past several thousand years.
Mt Etna erupted early this year, causing a BBC news crew to evacuate the mountain quickly as they were pelted with heated rocks and ash. Even with all the monitoring it is never quite sure when Mt Etna will erupt so there are strict guidelines with tourists visiting the area. The name comes from the Greek word Aitne, which is from aitho, meaning “I burn.” Its topmost elevation is about 11,000 feet (3,350 meters), depending on the effects of its most recent eruption. The Sicilian name is Mongibello.

One of the highlights while visiting Sicily was the excitement of being able to not only see the amazing Mt Etna but to be able to actually walk around one of the huge craters.
We were up bright and early the morning of our Etna tour. I looked out the kitchen window, as we had been unable to see the mountain due to billow of smoke/steam clouds and was surprised to see just two little puffs of steam floating from the top. Wow, my first proper sighting, the excitement grew and I couldn’t wait to be close.

We walked on down to the bus station where we were to catch our tour bus. We noted along the way how great it was to be out early and not have to fight our way through the sea of people that usually frequented the Main Street.
We arrived way too early as usual, it’s hard to get into Italian time where most things are on time, usually 5 to 15 minutes later. We had a coffee at a wee cafe, (not sure how I’m going to be able to just go back to normal coffee) while we waited.
We hopped on our bus with Mario the driver and Elizabeth the tour guide and headed off with Elizabeth filling us in on the history of Etna in a couple of different languages, through smaller towns and up the winding road to the magnificent sight of Etna finally in our reach.

Arriving at the 2000 metre mark we had the option of staying there to look around the many shops and cafe’s or catching the cable cars up to the next level. As far as we were concerned it was always going to be onwards and upwards. The line to the cable cars was getting longer by the minute, being on a tour, we by-passed all that and in no time were heading up the mountain. We shared our cable car with two ladies, one from Ireland and one from Australia and Lisa & Al from the UK. There was an eerie silence as we made our way up to the 3000 metres and the ground turned to a black dry surface splattered in places with green from plants trying to re-establish themselves after many eruptions.
The steam from the active craters rose above us as we neared the drop off point. We had read many reviews saying how cold it was going to be and the smell of sulphur being present but as we stepped off our cable car the air was warm and just the slightest hint of sulphur. Etna was making sure we had a great experience although I wouldn’t have minded just a little hot lava and a sprinkling of ash for some dramatic photos.

We had a guide to show us around a crater and answer our many questions, he would dig a little bit into the ground to show steam rising so close under our feet. Just standing in its true magnificence we knew Mt Etna commanded respect. One that should not be taken for granted.


The trip reminded me of how quickly life can change, how much we take for granted and how precious these moments are. What an absolute privilege to be able to visit something that can turn so fierce in a heartbeat, yet today it was just so calm and beautiful!

Laugh Dream Reach
Shirley xx

Taormina and Catania

First impression of Taormina was eeeeep! It was really busy – an obvious tourist destination. The train station was a taxi ride away up very windy narrow roads, where horns were blaring as we swung around each corner, as the drivers alerted oncoming traffic to move out of the way! The drop off the side of the roads are not for the faint hearted.
We arrived at our accommodation, which had a magnificent view on the rooftop terrace. It stretched into the distance both ways – toward Giardini Naxo and back toward Letojanni. We were surrounded by jagged mountains and could see Mt Etna in the distance under a blanket of white cloud. It seems everywhere we go the views just keep on giving.

We decided to head to the supermarket to pick up supplies – wine and food – and as we walked down a staircase to the main walking street – Corso Umberto – we were quickly swallowed up by a sea of tourists. It was manic, no one could move out of step at a risk of being tripped and trampled, as we slowly flowed down the street. If you like your personal space this is definitely not an ideal situation to be in, but we survived.

The following day we decided on a hop on/off bus tour, that they called the Get on/Get Off City By See. My advice would be to decide on where you would like to go in Taormina and then get there via public transport, as the tour was unfortunately irregular and didn’t really take you to many places. However, Taormina is beautiful so it was nice to just sit on if you are just wanting to take in the beautiful scenery – again be warned the roads are narrow and not for the faint hearted 😂😂.

(A reflection of a car on the bus as it was passing, so close!)

We stopped in Castelmola for the afternoon, which is a small hilltop village, the views were unreal and a must visit is ‘Bar Turrisi’ if only for the decor (I won’t divulge the details so as to not ruin the surprise), we tasted their almond wine – delish – and feasted on pizza (Gluten free available). Back on the bus we headed for home, stopping at the Amphitheatre along the way, taking in the wonderful views. Sicily breathes history and every step you take has an interesting story of how life was in an era years before our time.

After a much need evening of rest and revive (we’ve literally been falling into bed each night), we started the day with a trip on the cable cars (gondolas) down to ‘Isola Bella’ – perhaps the most famous stony beach in Taormina – and other surrounding beaches. We strolled through the crowds, taking off our shoes and  walking through the water to the small accessible island. Being a Sunday, entry was free, so we strolled through crowds of barely there budgie smugglers, as we explored and took millions of photos (of the scenery)!

 

We enjoyed lunch in a picturesque setting, then we decided to return via the cable cars to go on a ‘Godfather Tour’.
We purchased our tickets and so began an afternoon of exploring the small hilltop villages of Savoca – churches and the famous ‘Bar Vittelli’ that featured in the film’s. At the bar we enjoyed granitas and coffee, reading and browsing through the walls of memorabilia. Back on the bus we headed to ‘Forza D’agro’, to see another church that also featured in the film’s. It was an enjoyable afternoon out.

 

Our final day in Taormina was spent on Mt Etna, this one I will leave for another blog post as I think it deserves it.

(Mt Etna from our kitchen window)

Our first leg of our trip was coming to an end, but not without a short stop in Catania. Unfortunately we stopped here for just one night as we needed to catch a flight. We both agreed that we should of spent longer here, if only for the food!

(Our accommodation, The Nest in Catania, looks are deceiving)

We had an amazing host (we will do another blog post for our accommodations), that gave us some fantastic advice on were to eat the local cuisine. We were not disappointed. Buffet style street foods at ‘cafe Prestipino’ – Arancini, pan fried chips, and assortments of meats and salads. We explored the Piazza Duomo – a lovely square with the towering cathedral, before heading home for a nap. We headed out again that night to ‘Nievski’ to try Catania traditional pasta -Pasta cotta alla Norma (salsa bo) – and a few mojitos. The streets are lined with old beautiful buildings splattered with graffiti, that ended in more streets that were more modern and lined with beautiful flowering trees.

After we retired to our apartment to listen to old Italian records on the player provided, sipping our complimentary red wine, we chatted about our next destination – Piano di Sorrento. With heavy hearts we say a fond arrivederci to Sicily as we continue on to Italy. In conclusion, Sicily is an absolute must.

Truly blessed to be on such and adventure 😍 and until next time……..

Laugh, dream, reach xxx

– Jaimee

Photos by Shirley & Jaimee

Cefalu`

Wow!

That is the first word that pops into my head to describe this stunning seaside town. As we strolled through the streets with our backpacks on, the first thing we noticed was how clean the town was. Although we were told it was a tourist place, they were mainly here for day trips.

We arrived before our check in, so we found a spot next to Cheisa dell’ltria (the Catholic church), that had stunning views of the sea – once again I must mention how blue and clear the water is here – we dropped our bags, and watched the people around us, as they strolled leisurely about, one could not help but feel at ease and relaxed.

Tummys grumbling we decided to eat, sharing a platter of local cheeses, meats and dips, then onto some mains that included mushroom risotto for me, and a seafood marinara risotto for Mum. With the worms fed it was time to check in. Our balcony overlooked the bustling pedestrian street below – overall we were satisfied!

We freshened up and strolled the 2 mins that it took to get to the main beach, and were delighted with the scenery before us! It was like looking at a postcard, everything was perfection.

We followed the winding streets admiring Old Town, stumbling upon hidden treasures at every turn. A square (Piazza del Duomo) that held the towering Cefalu cathedral, was awash with activity and we were even lucky enough to witness a couple getting married, releasing white balloons into the sky, as we sat comfortably sipping our mojitos.

We got back to our room and decided after a rest (holidaying is tough), to head to the beach to watch the sunset. We once again met the bride and groom as a photographer captured their love in front of a firey red sun.
The sea gently lapped the golden sand as the last bit of light painted ever-changing colours upon the horizon. We felt blessed to be here.

Feeling energized after a good night sleep, we decided to climb La Rocca – a must do if you ever come to Cefalu. We put on our hiking boots, armed ourselves with water bottles and headed out early (9am) to beat the heat of the day. It was €4 each to climb (make sure you have coins for the ticket machine), and with an enthusiastic “Buon Giorno” to the man who checks the tickets, we began our ascent!

Stairs made the first part of the climb easier, as we literally pulled ourselves up by the handrail. We stopped often, it was hard not to with the stunning views that surrounded us. Every few meters the view changed, it was beautiful. Soon the track turned to dirt, then jagged rocks and slippery stones (please wear appropriate footwear – we had hiking boots), goats accompanied us part the way, charging and squabbling with each other to our amusement. Little lizards chased each other in a battle for territory and still the landscape was ever changing!

We went straight up to ‘Castello della Rocca’ first, with the last part of the climb being the hardest and steepest – reaching the top we did a victory dance as sweat trickled off us (sorry but it was hot), and took in absolutely breath-taking 360° views. After exploring the ruins we headed down to ‘The Temple of Diana’ and the cross that overlooked Cefalu`s Old Town. All the pain we’d be in tomorrow would be well worth it, as we gazed over this magical seaside town.

After a few wrong turns (up and down unnecessary staircases) we began the descent down, we were delighted with ourselves. As we dragged our feet back to our room we agreed we deserved a gelato (we had a shop conveniently across from our accommodation), and retreated to our balcony to eat them. After a rest we headed to the beach to soak our tired feet and watch the sunset once again.

As the sun slowly lowered in the sky we looked around our surroundings and truly felt blessed to be there. I for one, am so happy to be able to make such amazing memories with my Mum.
This is what life is about 😘😘.

Next stop Taormina 😎 Buona Notte!

Laugh, Dream, Reach xxx

– Jaimee

Buon Giorno, Jaimee having explained everything in detail I will post up the pictures to go with your verbal vision, below is the Cefalu Cathedral and the quick glimpse of the bride and groom.

Sunset on the beach

La Rocca in the background, excited to be taking on the challenge in the morning!!

The view from the top!

Above, with the smokey haze sitting around you never know how it will affect the image. Below, like diamonds in the sea.

Just walking past an alley way to some restaurants and came across this violinist taking a break.

Sunset on our last night in Cefalu, an amazing place, Cefalu, you left us wanting more, our love affair with Sicily is real ❤️

A place to add to your list, you won’t be disappointed

Laugh Dream Reach

Shirley xx

 

 

Pics of Palermo & Mondello ……

A few pics from our stay in Palermo and Mondello. The start of our amazing trip in Sicily, a must see destination for your next holiday!!

Palermo

Mondello

A couple of tips if you decide to travel to Sicily – Learn a few Italian phrases as English is a language not used by everyone – Backpacks are easier to manage than a suitcase on wheels (uneven and narrow footpaths in some parts).

Laugh because your Dreams can be in Reach xx

Palermo and Mondello 

Boun Giorno!
As I write this, mum and I sit sprawled out on beach sunbeds, underneath bright yellow umbrellas that are sheltering us from the sun. The sky is a beautiful shade of blue, tourquise  water so clear that even when the sand is disturbed beneath your feet, the water remains clear and inviting. Destination Mondello, a place for the locals, there’s not a huge influction of tourists………yet (it will be crowded after  the 1st of June).

Vendors sing out trying to push their product, but not enough to annoy you, and in the distance music is played loudly setting the mood in this picturesque seaside cove. This place is absolutely stunning. A short bus trip from Piazza Sturzo in the centre of Palermo, the round trip cost €5.60 for the two of us on one of the local buses. Our first friend Stefania had suggested we visit Mondello and we are delighted we took her advice.

As I look around we are surrounded by towering jagged mountains and the golden sand stretches for miles. We strolled through the small town and then took up residency on the beach – it cost us €16 for a seat and umbrella – but as the sun scorches down it is well worth it. Lunch was had at Alle Terrazze – we didn’t realise it was fancy until we walked in (waiters in suits, bubbles on arrival), by then it was to late to back out (haha), so we treated ourselves to some finery. We stayed in Mondello til late afternoon then headed back to Piazza Sturzo to take some photos. We walked along the port and beside the water home, stopping off at the botanical gardens for a quick look. By the time we got back to the apartment, we were knackered.

Now if we just backtrack a little to yesterday, we decided on the hop on hop off bus tour – the best thing to do to see the place – the prices vary for each bus company, our one was €20 each with a 10% discount when booking another tour through them anywhere in the world.

We travelled right the way round the route and decided to hop off at Palermo Cathedral, a few snaps outside, we then headed in and purchased a ticket for €7 (each) to climb to the roof. 110 steps later we were welcomed (although a little breathless) to 360° views of beautiful Palermo!

Afterwards we walked down the street and enjoyed a bit of lunch, before getting lost and then found again (😆), and hopping back on the bus to see the blue line route! After the bus ride we strolled through the streets taking photos of all the stunning buildings, monuments and statues. So much history.

Fast forward again (Wednesday 31st May), and you will find us travelling along beside the bluest sea on one side and magnificent mountains on the other. We are on board a train destined for Cefalu – our next stop!

More soon xxx

Laugh, Dream, Reach xxx

First Stop Palermo!

We woke at the early hour of 4am to begin the journey of a lifetime. Eager to explore, rediscover ourselves and obviously have a lot of laughs along the way, we headed to the airport (many thanks to Martin) for a 7.20am flight to Palermo, Sicily. 

Breakfast was had at the airport, and we arrived to the gate just as we were to board. With priority boarding we skipped the queue (with a few disapproving looks) and made it to our seats. The excitement took over and I promptly fell asleep!

We landed to a wonderful 22°c, sun shining with a slight sea breeze, fantastic views of the mountains, we sailed through the airport and into a shuttle bus (shared shuttle €7 each), and made our first friend, the beautiful Stefania, who chatted to us and gave us some wonderful tips. We departed with promises to keep in touch.

Our shuttle dropped us nearly to our apartment, our host was fab (will post more on him and accom later), and we settled in. 

Once settled we headed out to explore, walking through the almost deserted streets to the water’s edge – the strikingly blue Tyrrhenian Sea – and did a loop up via Vittorio Emanuele. We stopped off for some groceries at Lidl and headed back to the apartment to Google ‘What to do on a Sunday in Palermo?’. Turns out everyone was having a siesta (between the hours of 2pm and 4pm) and everything would open later.

Being the positive humans that we are, we thought if ya can’t beat ’em, join ’em, so nap time it was!

We woke an hour later just in time for dinner and wine, and headed to Porta Sant’agata (just a short walk from the apartment), for pizza and salad, and a lovely bottle of wine.

We have now settled in for the night, with excited anticipation of what tomorrow will bring, goodnight beautiful people!

Buona notte 😘😘

Laugh, Dream, Reach xxx

Jaimee

1 more sleep ………………

Looking forward to spending the next 2 months exploring with my travel buddy, Jaimee.

I’m sure there will be some interesting moments as we are both as stubborn as one another (ok Jaimee would probably win that one)! It’s going to be an epic adventure, we both have the passion and drive to make the most of any situation.

The count down has come down to 1 more sleep although I don’t think we will be sleeping much tonight. Up at 4am to start the journey of a lifetime!

Laugh Dream Reach – Laugh at life and Reach for your Dreams xx

 

Derry & more Game of Thrones …..

I didn’t have to travel too far to get to Derry, as I said in the last blog, Kathleen, the hostess of Daleview House B&B took me for a brisk walk before I headed off, to Abbey ruins in Ballylawn, I have posted a pic of us after the walk and also of the Abbey ruins looking over Lough Swilly.

Arriving in Derry, I hadn’t actually booked my B&B ahead so after looking around at a few locations I settled on Rose Park House, lucky they had a room available. It was just across the road from the historic Brooke Park which has recently had over 5 million pounds spent revamping the 8 hectare area. It was great walking through the park heading into town and seeing it being utilised by the public.

After arriving in town which was only a 1km walk from the Park, I decided to walk the 1.5km circumference of the 17th Century Walled City. The walkway elevated enough to see the layout of the original town, varies in width between 12 and 35 feet and claims Europe’s largest collection of cannon, all restored to their former glory. What a beautiful city, it was hard to imagine the unrest it had suffered not too many years ago and during my life time.  I visited the murals in walking distance from the city centre, The Bogside.

Later that evening I was collected from my B&B and taken out for a meal by Claire & Karl, I had first met Claire in Dublin when I went to catch up with Inez, a friend from work in Australia. I had promised Claire we would catch up again where I arrived in her part of Ireland. We had a great catch up and lovely meal at the Primrose on the Quay and then walked along to the oldest pub in Derry, Peadar O’Donnell’s for a drink. It was the perfect end to a very busy day.

After a much needed good night sleep and a good breakfast I headed back to Game of Thrones territory to mark a few more locations off my list. I still didn’t get to them all but I travelled a fair distance to see what I could. I have marked the map below in bold so you can see where I travelled.

  The weather was once again warm so it made driving around the coast that little bit more pleasant and the fact that it was a Thursday and not a weekend, the traffic wasn’t too hectic. My first stop was Downhill, a beautiful beach with many more surprises on the cliff tops above. I have added the Game of Thrones images and info to show the scenes in each of the photos I had taken. Even if they hadn’t shot Game of Thrones, the Dragonstone scene, there, Downhill would still have been worth the visit, the extensive sandy beaches which you could actually drive your vehicle onto all year round, would be great for many activities including, picnics, water sports and taking the dog for a walk, probably even swimming if the water temperature got warm enough. Mussenden Temple sits above the beach and has breath taking views of the North Coast and 18th Century ruins, all waiting to be explored!

I stopped off at a few none Game of Thrones sights too just for good measure and to prove I’m not that obsessed with it. I called into Portballintrae for lunch, a feed of fish & chips and a cold drink. It was nice sitting by the sea, listening to the waves lap up to the rocks and the hungry squawking seagulls flying overhead hoping I’d drop a morsel.

Moving on to Ballintoy Harbour, another great wee spot to stop for a coffee, from a very busy café right by the harbour, and a walk around. As I arrived a mobile artist, yes he had his shop in his van, was just finishing off the scene he was painting that day. He said he was enjoying his retirement just going where the mood and next road took him. After a good look around and some photos I went in search of the Dark Hedges or for you Game of Throne fans, the King’s Road. I pulled into the car park of the Dark Hedges Hotel with signs leading to a walking track that would take me to the Hedges. I was really disappointed when I got there to find it was just another road and there were cars and buses parked along it. I had to wait till all traffic moved to get the shots below. I was talking to an American mother and daughter, they were there taking photos for another family member, they said they hadn’t watched it at all but thought if they got a good shot, it would make a great present. The impressive beech trees were planted by the Stuart family in the eighteenth century, the intention to impress visitors as they approached the entrance to their Georgian mansion, Gracehill House.

My last stop for the day before I turned around to head back to Derry was Torr Head, it is on the North East of Northern Ireland and on a clear day you can see the coast of Scotland, I saw Scotland!  It was quite windy by time I got to the car park but not too unpleasant to make the climb to the lookout point. I had a laugh to myself, only a couple of cars in the car park, as I caught up to the young couple ahead of me I couldn’t believe the foot wear the young lady was wearing, she had on knee high boots with a really good pointy heal, she seemed to be managing ok going up the hill but coming down her partner had to help her, I’m surprised she didn’t break an ankle. I kind of hung back in case he needed assistance. Anyway the views at the top were breathtaking. It was well worth the day trip, I managed to see quite a bit in the day and was well and truly ready for bed by the time I got back after 7pm.

I started back towards Dublin on the Friday, I got as far as Ardee and decided I didn’t want to drive anymore so as I drove around the area I looked out for a place to stay the night and come across Deeside Manor B&B, Stabannon, County Louth, what a great choice, Geraldine and Kevin made me feel very welcome and recommended a lovely place for Dinner, Carlito’s Restaurant, Dunleer about 15 minutes up the road. The food was delicious, I had the Smoked Salmon Penne. I would certainly recommend there beautiful home as your home away from home if you are ever in the area. I have to say on my travels I have met some lovely people, seen some magnificent places that I thought I would only dream about and did it on my own, never once feeling unsafe or really alone.

I arrived back in Dublin on Saturday afternoon having travelled nearly 3000km in 18 days. What an amazing place you are Ireland!! I need a break before I head off on my next big adventure, this time with my travel companion and daughter, Jaimee. Look out Sicily, we’ll see you in 20 days!!

Laugh Dream Reach, I am xx

http://www.visitderry.com/

http://primrose-ni.com/

http://www.carlitos.ie/

 

Donegal to Manorcunningham…….

I left Donegal around 11am and headed in the rain towards Manorcunningham. I detoured off to have a look at Lough Eske and came across a sign for a castle, got to the gates, drove in and found it was a hotel. I thought I might as well get a photo while I’m here so quickly took a snap, also thought it would be a nice venue for a wedding if I happened to know anyone that needed a venue. A photo below if anyone is interested. It looks lovely!!

I booked in to stay at Daleview House B&B, Daleview House is a family run Bed and Breakfast with spectacular views of Lough Swilly and I have to say they are some pretty good views. When I arrived Kathleen put the jug on and we had a cuppa and a chat, I recommend if you are travelling that way its a very comfy place to stay.

Next morning I was up for breakfast and with the sun shining I headed off to explore more of the Wild Atlantic Way. It didn’t disappoint, the warmth, the blue skies, although because it was good weather a few farmers were burning off the old foliage so there was a smoky haze in the mix, it changed the whole look of the landscape. It was Bank Holiday weekend in Ireland so everyone was making the most of the beautiful spring weather. I drove to Glenveagh National Park and as I weaved my way around the winding narrow roads I noticed the remains of the little stone cottages that littered the landscape every so often, remnants of what used to be before times got tough.

I followed the Atlantic Ocean up to Horn Head, where I chatted to a group of Bikers from Dublin enjoying the warmer weather, I found most people I talked to were Irish, taking the chance to get away and refresh while they had the good weather, they all told me it wasn’t supposed to last so make the most of it. I moved on from Horn Head, came across Doe Castle just by chance, so stopped for a look. It was free to look and if you so desired you can grab a coffee on your way in. I kept heading North and finally arrived at Fanad Head and the lighthouse but was too late to do the tour so got a couple of photos instead. After quite a day of travelling I headed back to the B&B and a lovely cuppa with Kathleen and her new guests from France.

The next morning the weather was even more perfect, no wind at all, it was so hot they were sure it was going to be warmer than Spain. I had breakfast with the French family before they headed on to their next destination and I headed towards Malin Head. I stopped off at Fort Dunree and as it was closed for the weekend, thought no use wasting the trip, I walked the steep stairs to the fort on the hill and got the most amazing views all around. It was certainly a good work out by the time I got to the top. Lucky I had packed some 3/4 pants and t-shirts, it was way too hot for jeans. I made it to Malin Head and the place was just crawling with people. Finding a park was a nightmare, I guess everyone wanted to be at the most Northern Point of Ireland!!

I have added a map below so you can see how far I travelled over the two days. I was due to check out of my accommodation but before I did, Kathleen suggested we go for a walk. She took me along the N13 to Ballylawn, to a wee hidden treasure, the ruins of an Abbey which isn’t even on the tourist maps, about a 6 or 7km round trip. I didn’t have my camera with me so stopped off on my way to Derry. Yes, next stop is Derry, Northern Ireland. Some links below to look check out at your leisure.

https://www.guide-to-ireland.net/showdetails.php?id=3255

http://www.heritageireland.ie/en/north-west/doecastle/

http://dunree.pro.ie/

Welcome

http://www.ireland.com/en-gb/articles/waw-malin-head/

Laugh because you can, Dream of new things, Reach for your passport!!

 

 

Sligo to Donegal …….

As I was going to be early to my next destination, Donegal, I took a view detours. One I came across was the lovely Streedagh Beach, the only person I saw there was a fisherman and his two dogs. The dogs just wandered around, came over and gave me a sniff then went off about their business. It would be a great spot when the weather was warmer but I was told, the beaches are always empty, most people travel to Spain for their beach holidays. Heading on I detoured again to Eagle Rock. I was keen to get out for a walk but having all my belongings with me I didn’t want to venture too far from the car. I took a couple of shots and headed to a wee town called Belleek. I didn’t realise until I went to pay for my cuppa that I had crossed the border into Northern Ireland. The young lady at the counter laughed and said, “Don’t worry even the locals don’t realise sometimes”. I had stopped off to look at the Belleek Fine Parian China, some beautiful delicate pieces on display. The weather really packed it in then so I headed to Donegal and the Ardlenagh View B&B. Eileen welcomed me with a cuppa and biscuits and showed me up to my room. Another out of town place, the view was magnificent over looking farmland and Donegal Bay.

https://www.ardlenaghview.com/

http://www.belleekpottery.ie/home

After a good nutritious breakfast the next morning I drove about an hour Northwest of Donegal to find the Slieve League, one of the highest sea cliffs in Europe. They are twice as high as the Cliffs of Moher and on a clear day you can see across Donegal Bay to counties Leitrim, Sligo and Mayo, out to the west is the Atlantic ocean for as far as the eye can see. Unfortunately for me it was raining quite heavy by the time I left the car park to walk the quite steep road up to the viewing platforms. Most people drove up in their cars but I was determined to get my exercise for the day. I can tell you it sure gets the heart pumping so was a good workout for me! By the time I got back to the car I was feeling very peckish so stopped off at the Ti Linn Café, Slieve League cliffs centre. Nothing like a goats cheese, caramelized onion & homemade relish panini and hot chocolate to calm the worms. I checked out the rest of the area and headed home for a well earned rest.

http://slieveleaguecliffs.ie/

Breakfast the next morning was full of interesting conversations, one of the great things about staying in a B&B is it’s almost like the comforts of home, not too many people as in hotels so you are not just a number and the other guests you get to see at breakfast or in the lounge. This morning there were two American couples, the conversation was about the narrow roads in the country areas, one guy said to his mate, “there’s no way your pick up truck would fit down those road and let another car past” and the advice I was given was “if you come across another car on a narrow road just stop, if he hits you its his fault because he is the one still moving”. I will certainly bear that in mind. I usually give myself three nights in most places so I have sufficient time to look around that area.

My final day in Donegal I spent looking around the town and historical sites. Its like everywhere I have been, full of history dating way back to before you could imagine. Donegal Castle is in the town centre, it was once the principle residence of the O’Donnells one of the leading Gaelic Clans. It is in the process of being restored back to its former glory and is well worth a look if you are visiting Donegal.

The ruins of the Franciscan friary are located on the outskirts of Donegal town, where the River Eske joins Donegal Bay. Situated just a short distance from the O’Donnell castle, the friary was founded as a Franciscan Observant house in 1474 by Red Hugh O’Donnell, his statue stands a short distant from the friary as you are looking towards the town.

http://www.donegaltown.ie/Donegal-Town-History/

http://www.monastic.ie/history/donegal-franciscan-friary/

I also had a look at the Railway Museum, a couple of the old carriages have been restored and are used for the public to sit and watch the DVDs about the history of the railway. They were also in the process of restoring one or two engines but when the government cut funding this had to be put on hold.

http://www.donegalrailway.com/

I enjoyed my stay in Donegal, I have noticed as I am moving around the west, a lot of the signage is in Irish, so if you didn’t pay attention to the first sign that had both Irish & English names then you could find yourself quite lost.  Also the further North I have gone the Irish accent has changed, from a subtle accent to quite a heavy accent.

As I move further North to explore the rugged coastlines I will head to Manorcunningham to my next B&B …….

Laugh Dream Reach you might even like it  …… Shirley