Although the buses in Ireland are mostly, sometimes, kind of efficient, we had gone off the beaten path somewhat in our excursion out to Errigal, and therefore had to take an equally circuitous route to find the path again. The bus from the gas station in Errigal took us back to Letterkenny – a bit of deja vu – where we had an hour or two to kill before we could get… well, anywhere really. Fortunately, Mr. Chippy’s served half-decent fish and chips, in which we indulged, and then hopped on yet another bus. We arrived in Donegal town in the dark, not my favourite way to arrive anywhere, and although we had located a hostel that we were going to aim to stay in, we hadn’t actually made a booking, nor determined quite how far it was from the bus stop (this would later turn out to be a common problem, and by the end of the trip we had mastered the locating of the bus stop in relation to the destination hostel, but we hadn’t learned that lesson yet..). As a result, we walked a kilometer or two out of the centre of town, only to discover from Linda that the hostel was full. Full. She, unlike the woman in Errigal, was not kidding. Rachel was not amused. However when pressed, Linda fessed up that there was in fact a double room available, she just hadn’t realized we would take it. She was clearly hunting for wedding bands, or a marriage certificate or something.. Rachel may have lied. Regardless, we had a room, with our own bathroom, and a hot shower, and we happily ate salt and vinegar chips and chocolate milk and enjoyed the quiet.
Breakfast, we also discovered, was not included in our hostel stay. So we took our day pack, and set off in search of food. Donegal town is actually a hopping spot. The attractive centre square, known as ‘The Diamond’ is filled with cute shops, cafes, and directional arrows pointing tourists to the castle, the craft village, and other attractions. It was so cute, in fact, that we failed to take any photos, except for one. Scroll down to see our major highlight package of Donegal, in an image.
We had an overpriced breakfast at a fairly iffy cafe on one side of the Diamond, and our day just continued to improve with a sprinkling of rain. Lovely. But, we persevered. Rachel – who reads everything – had read about the Donegal Craft Village, apparently the must-see place to go in the town, except maybe the castle. Since we weren’t really into castles, we followed the arrow to the craft village. Again, not enough research. The village was in fact much farther from town and most normal people would have thought they needed a car. We did get there though, and we got quite a pretty walk in on the way, lots of grand houses with expansive yards and gardens, and we didn’t get lost once! It’s a lovely creation, the village, with artists in residence, and visitors like us can pop in, speak with them, check out the latest project, browse other creations, and even make a purchase to take home. Jewellery, glass-work, wood carvings, paintings, and more are available to learn about and enjoy, in a modern courtyard-style design. Each artist has their own studio, with private entrance and display space, and all of the buildings are within a short walk to Aroma Coffee Shop where, of course, we stopped for lunch. Over a freshly brewed coffee, we planned the next leg of our trip, and when the place filled up and the food smelled too good, we shared a plate of homemade ravioli, and a sticky toffee pudding. A trip to the village is worth it even if you absolutely hate art, just to eat the food.
Stuffed, we walked back into town, and went on our usual search for the public library, which was quite a search because it is an absolutely tiny, pint-sized library, filled with books for adults but really the whole thing is built for children. We browsed the travel section while watching three Irish children battle for their mother’s attention, and colour pictures of autumn scenes. The young man working at the library seemed thrilled to have any visitors at all. From there, with the weather not improving, we decided to abandon our plan to walk the scenic river-side trails, and instead took a quick tour of the town. For tea time/supper, Blueberry Tea Room in The Diamond served substantial portions of chowder, scones with clotted cream and jam, and massive pots of tea. Fortunately we had a long walk back to the hostel to work all that off. The waitress who served us was so excited we were Canadian – she’d had some Canadians in the week before who gave her a flag pin, and she thought that was just the nicest thing ever.
The next morning we were on the road again, bags packed and heading back to town centre, we revisited Blueberry Tea Room for an amazing breakfast, and left some pins from Canada and our native provinces with the waitress – she was ecstatic. She wanted to hear all about where we were going next, and warned us not to get engaged, a small amount of irony after dealing with Linda at the hostel!
We were very early for our bus, but fortunately the sun emerged, and we were able to put our packs on the side of the road to wait. The little old ladies also waiting for the bus clearly thought we were crazy. We did snap this lovely (and only) picture though as we waited:
A real gem, I know. Regardless, we caught the right bus, the little old ladies waved us goodbye, and we hit the road.