Tuesday, December 24, 2013

My best Christmas ever!

After a hiatus of 16 months, I'm back with some more travel stories. 

In this post I'm going to narrate my favourite Christmas. It all started on December 23rd 1989, in Ireland. We (my BFF, Sara E. Baxter & I), started hitchhiking from Dublin to Doolin, a quiet (back then) fishing village on the West Coast of county Clare. It was in Lahinch (I think) that we stopped in a pub, for God-knows-what (maybe just a quick break), that a group of twenty-somethings lads asked us to have a pint in celebration of someone's  bachelor party. We had a couple of pints, before we knew it, it was almost dark. 

It turned out to be impossible to have a lift in the dark on backroads. Thankfully, a woman gave us a short lift, we walked the rest. In the dark, on back roads, no lights, not sure if we were going the right way, trying to avoid puddles (no snow in Ireland but it rains a lot.).

We arrived at our chosen youth hostel in Doolin, hours later, completely exhausted, hungry & wet.  There, there was 3 British men who immediately told us to take our boots off & warm up by the turf fire. Bliss. 

It turns out that the 3 British men were into "caving". ( exploring caves) and we here to explore Pol An IonĂ¡in !(Now totally touristy! Check it out! http://www.doolincave.ie/) They invited us to join them for a visit. As there was 3 of us (also a German guy who wanted to come.), we went in 2 groups of 3. (They had only 3 wetsuits.)  It was surreal!  There we were, on the side of the road, changing into our wetsuits in front of cows. We had to crawl on our belly in a few inches of freezing water, sometimes doing things Indiana Jones-esque) and inch our way to a big cave , where we saw the biggest stalactite in the Northern Hemisphere! There was a huge mud pool were we spent a while having a mud fight. So much fun, throwing handful of  mud in the other two's face! Before we inched our back back, (the same way we came in), we had to have a freezing cold "shower" to remove some of the mud in our hair, in a small fall inside.
When we finally came back, all 9 of us backpackers (Brits, Canadians, Northern Irish, & German) shared a communal huge Christmas dinner and the friendly owner (Carmel) even brought us some food! 
We then sat by the turf fire, sharing some warm mulled wine (from the German), Guinness & whiskey, sang some songs and played music.

The next morning, Sara & I were totally aching but happy! 

The hostel was The Rainbow Hostel , I'm happy to report that it's still going to this day, is totally worth it! Here's the link  http://rainbowhostel.net/. Over the years, I've been to 3 different Doolin hostel is this by far, THE best & friendliest! 

My BFF, Sara E. Baxter,  is a great writer & editor. Check out her website.  http://www.saraebaxter.com/

The photo above is of the Doolin coast, taken on a frigid January 2000.