Temps last night dropped down to 5 C, which empirical testing shows as just barely colder than my gears’ designs. The low temps and clear sky covered everything in heavy condensation. The cold wet morning lead to a slow departure, and even so I packed the tent soaked, which I need to resolve.
I thought I visited Athlone on an earlier trip, but I don’t remember the castle. I wish I did, because I would have skipped it. Multiple multimedia displays fill the fully-modern interior, covering a variety of topics that don’t interest me. I did, however, manage to capture Athlone Castle with two days of food left and losing only 100 of my men.
In Ireland, ruins litter the countryside. Before my first cycle tour in Ireland, I once saw a grand total of three castles in a day. On my third day ever in Ireland, I cycled past and/or visited 16. At one point 3,500 tower castles covered Ireland, particularly the south east, providing much opportunity to explore. I came across this tower castle today by the side of the road, the interior filled with rubble and trash, the interior destroyed by fire.
Today I needed to cover a lot of ground quickly. I didn’t leave the castle in Athlone until 11:30 am, which meant 100+ km in six to seven hours, with potential delays for dodging rain. I made good time, entering Athenry around 3:30 pm. I came across the old priory, and I also visited the castle there (which I have definitely been to before, and worth seeing the second time).
Hey, I’m cold, damp, tired, and concerned about rain, but I’m not dead.
From Athlone I had only another 25 km to Galway. Donal scared the daylights out of me as I entered Galway. He cycle commutes to work, and silently pulled up next to me to ask about my travels, providing the opportunity to talk for a few kilometers. He’s done some cycling in the north of Ireland, but my starting in Istanbul took him somewhat aback.
In some ways the trip amazes me too. On the other hand, I just travel one day at a time; each day follows the next. Despite everything, while I feel experienced, I don’t feel like an expert. I’ve met far too many people this trip doing the same thing, with far less experience, who have come up with far better planning and solutions for problems than I.
Last night I selected the hostel for tonight, the top-ranked hostel in Ireland for 2014. As usual, I didn’t have a reservation (but much more conservative than usual, with slight odds of this and the other six or so hostels in Galway all being full on a Wednesday). With friendly people at reception, I settled in. I went out to dinner with a group organized by the hostel, and afterwords went to a local pub for authentic tourist Irish music.
I reserved the bed for two nights, so as to wander around Galway tomorrow. My knee aches, a likely combination of the cold and pushing for speed, so I welcome the break. I picked up a power adaptor today when I passed an electronics store, so no worries there. Hopefully I can find an EirCom store to fix my non-working cell plan. I look forward to plotting my course through Connemara (and back to Dublin); I certainly carry enough maps at this point. So far I’ve managed to avoid major incident from cycling on the wrong side of the road
I just barely crossed the 2,000 mark on the (reset) odometer today.