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I finally slept through the night, waking only when one of my roommates left early. I no longer struggle feeling the effects of the cold meds wearing off an hour before the next dose. My energy levels haven’t returned to normal, but at least I didn’t feel the need to collapse when I arrived this evening.

After breakfast I packed, waiting for the morning rain to stop. I refilled my water bottle, and during second breakfast talked with the German backpacker who decided to remain in Sligo for the day. The skies cleared by 10:30 am; I waited another half-hour for the weather to settle out and headed forth. A kilometer later I realized I’d left my water bottle behind, distracted by conversation.

Not losing anything else.

I returned to find the hostel door locked. With no one at reception, I decided I had time to wait, with only 70 km planned  today. While waiting, I spoke for a while with another guest, waiting to check in.  By noon I found myself back on the road, water bottle in hand.

The skies cleared, and I cycled much of the day with sunny weather and a tailwind. I’m cycling along the western coast on the Great Western Way, with the coastal mountains in the distance. No rain until 5 km outside of Donegal, where again I came close to getting soaked at the end of the day. I’m cycling shorter days but as the day cools off, showers strike.

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I still love Tourist Information in Ireland. I stopped at Tourist Information in Donegal, and left with a local map of Donegal, the bus schedule to Derry, the city map for Derry, hostel information in Derry, and the location of ATMs in Derry; each of those documents came with hand-drawn circles and arrows for more information. Not only am I not in Derry, Derry is another country. Tourist Information in larger countries provides information for only their region; getting information cross-region helps a lot given that I often cross more than one region on any given day.

In the grand scheme of things, I should have turned east and not cycled to Donegal. The last time I cycled to Donegal, I had the same problem – running out of time. I need to cycle Ireland counter-clockwise next time. The last time I made a mad dash from Donegal back to Dublin, but in this case not only am I trying to cycle in Northern Ireland, but the hostel in Enniskillen ceased to exist. On the other hand, I also wanted to visit the city of Donegal again. While the old abbey was converted to a cemetery, Donegal Castle still stands as a great example of a tower castle.

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Different hostels allocate guests by either loose-packing (not placing a second person in a room until all rooms are full) or tight-packing (filling each room before moving on to the next). Besides the more pleasant experience of  having one’s own room, that behavior often predicts the rest of the experience at that hostel. The hostel in Donegal follows the former practice, and the rest of the experience to match. Linda, one of the hostel owners, introduces everyone to each other as they come in, actively interacts with the guests, and makes sure everything goes OK for everyone. Everyone had their own room. 

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Forecasts tomorrow call for thunder, rain (differentiated from “showers”), and hail. I had thought Donegal Castle only opened tomorrow, but Tourist Information corrected that perception. I planned to huddle here in Donegal tomorrow, but arrived in the city early enough to see everything. So, you know, new plan.

Getting from Donegal to Giants’ Causeway to Belfast to Dublin, losing a day for weather, and then who knows what, leaves little time in Belfast or Dublin. I only care about time in Dublin to ensure the bike comes home, but I would prefer not to rush through things at the end of the trip. Tomorrow during the bad weather I take a bus to Derry instead of sitting still. Weather for the weekend should be good, and regardless eastern Ireland suffers less rain. From Derry I can cycle to Giants’ Causeway, and then hopefully spend time in Belfast, before a train closing the final leg back to Dublin. Until the next plan.

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