We spent much more time than we planned or wanted to driving in Ireland. It doesn't help that I don't drive at all and thus can't help out, but if we had to do it again, H would take the bus. It took a few hours to get to Ardara, where we were going to stay the night at the fabulous Green Gate. I had found the Green Gate online and was shocked to find a B&B that allowed, even encouraged, smoking. Then I learned it was owned by a Frenchman (natch) and it's not for everyone: there are no showers, you have to stoop in most doorways, and the bathwater is brown. But it is in a magical setting, and Paul could not be more charming. I had read that he refused to rent to Americans, but when I called to reserve the room, he was thrilled that I was from New York. He's also going to be profiled soon in the travel mag where I used to work, so I got more feedback on the place from the editor who is writing about Ireland and Paul's place. Here is the town, which is lovely and bucolic:
After some difficulty, we made it to the Green Gate, which is about a kilometer from town. Paul's signage along the road is not horrible, but here is the sign when you get to the gate, totally obscured by plants:
Paul is as charming as could be, offering us coffee and biscuits, as well as special Green Gate lighters and cigarette pack covers, to hide the large European warnings. Excellent. I told him how I'd been referred to him by a colleague who was writing a story about Ireland. Paul seemed very concerned that the magazine wouldn't include his new website, as if a major national magazine would fail to fact check such an item. He also joked that so many Americans come to Ireland and nearly knock the left-hand rear view mirror off their car, he should start selling them and make a fortune (there but for the grace of God goes our mirror). Finally, he gave us some restaurant recommendations in town and told us we could have breakfast whenever we felt like it the next morning. All the while that we sat outside chatting, bunnies hopped around us and birds alighted on Paul's shoulder, like a Disney cartoon!
Here are some pictures of the property, but no photos could do it justice. :
We headed into town on foot, not wanting to deal with driving back on tiny roads in the dark. I began collecting bottles and trash along the way, muttering how no one respects the country code anymore. Lookit how pretty:
One of many hilarious roadsigns. 80 kilometers?! You'd be lucky if you hit 40! The other side says 50, which also makes no sense, but often you will see an 80km and a 50km one on top of the other. Confusing.
We had dinner at Nancy's on the main road, full of interesting objects and great food:
After dinner, we checked out the pubs, of which there are many (every Irish town, no matter how small, has at least two pubs). Of all the places in the world, we walked into the one pub where the bartender was from Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, which is a few miles from where we live. We were the only people in the place, so we talked about Brooklyn and Ireland. She offered this advice for driving on the left side: keep your right shoulder to the middle of the road and don't worry about how much space you have on your other side. Sound advice. We went back to the Green Gate (still on foot, apparently a first, most take a cab home as the walk home seems a lot steeper after a few pints) and entertained the idea of drinking wine outside but the midges prevented that. Settled instead for guidebook reading and wine drinking on our tiny bed. But no sleepwalking, thank God, as I would have ended up in the middle of nature!
Rather posted out for tonight now.
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