Wednesday 30th July
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We did not sleep well and were glad to be getting up to leave. The breakfast was probably the Abbey Hotels saving grace. A standard buffet layout, simply walk up and point at what you want. In that case the vegetarian option was beans on toast with a few mushrooms. Simple but hit the spot when washed down with the morning fix of black coffee. Back up to the bedroom, bags in hand and off to see how Uly was.
(Motorcycle Parking In Donegal)
She was fine and though the motorcycle parking bays are clearly marked and surprisingly plentiful, the average car driver seems convinced they can squeeze into the smaller bays while ignoring the writing on the ground. Need we wonder why motorcycles are so invisible on the roads? Another fumny aspect is the most impressive building in Donegal Town is the 'Discover Ireland' offices. Again our first stop.
The ladies inside were once again extremely helpful and they booked us into a hotel in Westport town center for €90 for the both of us including breakfast. We asked a few more probing questions about parking this time and the hotel insisted that we need not worry. We would wait and see, but at least with that sorted we could plan on what to do with today.
Our plans had changed slightly in that we had to be back home Thursday night instead of Friday. The last sight I wanted to see on this tour was Kylemore Abbey in County Galway. The decision before us now was whether we head for Westport, check-in & unload then head to Kylemore then coming back to Wesrport that night or take our time and head to Westport then visit Kylemore via our way home Thursday. All that we did decide to do was go to Westport, once there we would be in a better position to decide what to do next.
So back on the road we pulled in at the first petrol station, got water for ourselves, topped up the fuel on Uly and joined the N15 to Sligo. After Sligo we took the N17 to Charlestown, then took the N5 West to Castlebar and finally Westport.
"There May be Trouble Ahead..."
The roads were generally very busy and we found that the traffic was mainly being slowed by caravans and motorhomes, I would guess rentals, in one case a motorhome was also towing a car. How much mobility do you need? This obviously led to plenty of very long tailbacks, even though there were ample hard shoulders to pull in and allow the traffic to pass, yet these slow moving vehicles refused to give way. To give you an idea of how long the convoy was at one stage, we pulled off the road to put on our neck tubes (more for bugs then warmth) at a petrol station. So gloves off, helmets off, walk around bike, neck tubes on, helmets on, fix ourselves, gloves on, restarted bike, pulled out of parking area and the convoy was still going by unbroken! We had hoped it would ahead of us, but we managed to rejoin when someone flashed us to come in and beyond him we could not see an end. Really, there is no need for any driver to cause that sort of tailback. I remember in California when traveling in the mountains they had a law that if you have X amount of vehicles behind you, you must pull over...
Anyway when we turned onto the N5 to Westport at Charlestown it seemed that we were the only ones on the road and it was a great road! Smooth, wide, flowing, light traffic and the sun beating down...this was motorcycle touring at its best. We would rejoin moderate traffic after Castlebar to Westport, but nothing heavy. Arriving in Westport we went straight through and parked up beside the clock to ask directions for the hotel. It was just at the bottom of the street and when we pulled up we were pleasantly surprised.
The Wyatt Hotel, Westport was our stop and it was very impressive. Clean and modern with all mod-cons and with an underground private car part complete with CCTV which was relayed to a screen at the reception desk and very motorcycle friendly. We knew we were going to enjoy this, in fact, we decided there and then to park up, unload, freshen up and spend the day in Westport. We got a little walking guide in the reception that took us on a quick walk around the town explaining all the sights. The sun was out in full force and we were happy to soak it up.
(Inscription: "I am Patrick a sinner most unlearned the least of all the faithful and utterly despised by many"...I identify with how he felt)
The town was full of people who were either going to or coming from Croagh Patrick just to the South West of Westport. Their respective neck tie/tie-shirts and so on marked them out. Come the evening they had dispersed and Westport was still warm from the day, but pleasant, relaxed and even more enjoyable to walk around and soak up. We settled on what looked like a nice restaurant and what should have been an hours wait turned into 5 mins as a booking never turned up. The food was excellent and the portions were large. We ended up taking half the pizza back to the hotel with us.
That night was to be our last night of the trip, so for the final time I sat with the road map and scanned the route. Kylemore Abbey and then the final push.
To be Continued...