Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Well, how do you describe the best two weeks of your life for at least the last ten years? I guess I will have to describe it section by section from when I left Edinburgh until I reached Glenn Cholum Cille. Although, this might seem rather dry but I am not exactly equipped with the vocabulary to describe it adequately.

I woke up to leave Edinburgh for Belfast City Airport at 4 am. My flight was at 7:30 am but I had to be there two hours early to make sure that I was checked in. You always follow this advice but it never seems right because it always goes smoothly. So I had a bunch of time to wait. So I grabbed a coffee and sat watching everyone go by until it was time for me to run the gauntlet of security to get to my flight.

I flew British European Airlines, which flew us over on a turbo prop airplane. This was fine since I am used to it from Horizon Airlines when I flew to Spokane so often. The only problem was that Belfast City Airport is right next to the sea and I thought that he was going to ditch us in the drink and I thought that he was going to tip a wing on to the tarmac once we did finally hit the ground. It made me rather nervous to be honest.

I got off the plane and started down towards the baggage claim. There was a sign in the corridor which said, "Welcome Home...Have breakfast with us" and the breakfast was eggs, sausage, puddings (black and regular), toast, and A PINT OF GUINNESS. I started to like this place already. I got my bags and got on the bus to the bus station in the center of town.

When I arrived on got in line for tickets, I asked the guy behind the counter for a ticket to Donegal Town. Well, after waiting a while and seeing a bus for Enniskillen. I asked the information desk when the Donegal Town bus was leaving. She said that it would not leave until after 12:00 noon. I asked if I could take the Enniskillen bus and catch the bus from Dublin to Donegal Town. She said I could so I waited another hour and caught the bus to Enniskillen.

This is where things get a bit maddening. We reach Dungannon bus station where they changed bus drivers. I asked the bus driver about crossing the boarder. As I am an American, I need a visa to enter the Republic of Ireland. He said that there were no boarder crossing points any more and there was no one to check my passport. I decided to wait until I got closer to the border to see if there was someone to check my passport.

After Dungannon, we were on the road FOREVER, it seemed to me. The country side was beautiful and filled with fields, crops, cows, and horses. It seemed to me to be rolling hills with the occasional glen rather than the well-defined glens of Scotland or valleys Washington. It did not seem like the kind of place that would cause so much trouble.

We arrived in Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh sometime in the early afternoon. The bus from Dublin was late, I was told by the attendant. So I waited around for it. When it did arrive, it was PACKED. Fortunately they let some people off. I got in line to pay for the trip. When I finally talked to the driver, I told him where I wanted to go and I paid for it. I then asked him about my passport and I showed it to him. He laughed a bit then showed me the infamous winning Irish smile and I got on the bus.

I was stuck in the back with a family of six but they were nice enough and we mostly ignored each other. Once we were north of Enniskillen, the road turned into one track or a extremely narrow dual carriage (even for European standards). We wound our way through the country. It started off as the same as the rest of Northern Ireland but it became more and more rugged as time wore on.

After at least another hour, we reached Donegal Town. A beautiful little place but I did not have long until the bus to Glenn Colum Cille had arrived to take us the last leg of the journey. We winded through little towns and villages. They all looked very inviting but they were not where I was going. One of the signs on the pub said, "Beer, spirits, and hangovers served here". Kellybegs was definitely a place that I would like to return. It is Ireland's largest fishing port and has a great harbor area.

As we moved away from Kellybegs, the terrain became a mirror image of Scotland. The rugged hillsides and the bogs with flowers in them. Sheep predominated the landscape with a few herds of cattle here and there. Once we went through Carrick though, we descended into a miles long trek through fields of nothing. We passed the sign, "An Ghaeltacht", which signaled our entry into the Irish speaking part of Ireland. The only problem is that the sign was in a sorry state of repair. It desperately needs some love. Still miles of nothing until we dropped in to Glenn Cholum Cille.

The bus dropped us off next to Biddy's. From there, we made our way to Oideas Gael.

I think this is a good stopping place. I will write more tomorrow about it.

posted by Chris  #4:06 PM | 0 comments |