Sunday, June 26–Donegal City

Beltany stone circle; Wild Atlantic Way; Greencastle; Inishowen maritime museum & planetarium; another minor disaster heading as far North as you can go; dinner at the Harbour restaurant; a late night wander in town

Abbey Hotel

Black VW Passat sedan



I didn't feel like having the full breakfast included with my room this morning, so I had one of my Slimfasts instead. I took two trips to take my bags down to my car before going back up to the reception desk to check out. When I went down to the small underground parking lot, I was quite relieved to notice I'd be able to back up enough to drive forward and out of the tiny, narrow entrance to the tiny, narrow lot.

The weather today was grey & lightly cloudy with mild drizzle most of the time.

It was a pretty good day at the beginning and end with a pretty terrible spot in the middle.

I started out by going on over to the Beltany stone circle which is not far outside Derry city. As usual the Garmin sat nav couldn't find it but Google Maps on my Irish smart phone did although it thought the foot path up the hill to the circle was still the road.

The path to the stone circle leads up from right beside an Irish national agricultural research facility. You go through the small gate at the top of the path and you see a sign saying "Beltany stone circle" but you think "What am I doing here in this sheep pasture?" because you don't at first see the circle since it's in the far corner and none of the stones are much taller than a man's height. It's in a lovely setting, with a great view in all directions, and it's also rather fun hearing all the sheep talking to each other as they avoid you as you move around their pasture.

Last night I decided that I wouldn't drive around the periphery of the Inishowen peninsula but would try to go to only a couple of places instead, including the maritime museum on the grounds of the Coast Guard station. For most of today, I drove on the usual two lane roads, sometimes but not often on theoretically two lane roads, never on single lane roads, and a couple of times on glorious, real highways, two lane or sometimes more than two.

From the Beltany Stone Circle I headed on out to the wild Atlantic coast of Donegal, through and past the usual delightful scenery and towns and other buildings including many lovely houses out in the country. For most of the time, especially while driving along the coast, I felt like I was back in Oregon again. Somewhere along the way I stopped to take some pictures from a small fishing pier.

The Inishowen maritime museum & planetarium is in the lovely, small coastal town of Greencastle and although quite small is very nicely done and is quite charming. Over the weekend the museum hosts an amateur radio station that is the furthest North in all Ireland monitoring for any distress calls or other radio traffic; the rest of the time, to make up a full 24 hours every day, the station is located on the Coast Guard grounds instead of in the museum. There's also a very small planetarium. Since I was the only one there and bought a ticket for a show, the woman working at the reception desk had me pick which show out of the five they currently are running and started it just for me. The museum also has an equally small but charming café with a surprisingly good pastry selection.

I had wanted to also go to Malin Head at the tip of the Inishowen peninsula, which is the most Northerly point on the entire island, including both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

The next couple of hours, until I got to my hotel here in Donegal City, was pretty nasty. I actually got to within half an hour of the Head but really was feeling rather unwell and decided I'd better turn around and try to get to Donegal instead. The Irish countryside, scenery, and towns are usually beautiful and often stunningly scenic but facilities when you're not feeling well are few and far between. Driving around back home on the turnpike and freeways and just around in general, I know where there are rest stops or chain restaurants or larger gas stations/convenience stores but not here, not today. All I'm going to say is that sometimes all you can do is stop where you can and do what you have to and hope it's not too embarrassing or messy as I had to do three times today before things settled down a bit interior wise.

I got here to Donegal around 5:30 or 6, and the Abbey Hotel turns out to be another downtown hotel with no parking of their own and barely any place to park to load or unload. I found the hotel OK but had to drive around the central square, the Diamond, a couple of times and wound up parking beside a lovely church down the road a couple of blocks away.

Once I got to the hotel, the first thing I had to do was find the nearest rest room before actually checking in. I then went back to my car down by the church, drove back up and around the Diamond and was able to pull into a spot on the street almost right in front of the hotel, I unloaded what I wanted for tonight and tomorrow morning, left it by the reception desk, and drove down the hill to park in the city pay lot reception had given me a stamped ticket for.

My room is 218. I first got in the elevator nearest the reception desk but couldn't find 218 anywhere on that level and had to go back to the reception desk and ask where exactly my room was. There is another elevator way to the back of the building which took me up to the part of the second floor where my room is.

The Abbey hotel is older but very pretty and nicely decorated and very well maintained. My room is in the back of the building, right above the River Eske which flows into Donegal Bay just a bit past the parking lot where I parked my car. When I came in, the window was open and all I could hear were birds. My room's actually kind of large, with older but still nice furnishings including both a double bed and a twin as well as the small table near the window where I'm typing these notes and a makeup/dressing table and a small but nice bathroom with a shower that's more than tall enough for me.

I unpacked and hung around in my room until I was sure I was well enough to find somewhere to have dinner. While walking back up from the parking lot I had noticed a seafood restaurant called the Harbour, and decided to give it a try and am glad I did. It's an older restaurant and seemed to have seating on at least three levels, a split level on the ground floor and seating upstairs. It was quite busy while I was there but since I was by myself I snagged a table for two. I had a pint, some excellent seafood chowder, smoked haddock and veggies, and ice cream for dessert and everything was excellent.

When I had come up to the hotel from the church where I originally parked I thought I had noticed several places that said they had live music tonight but it was still relatively early after dinner so I decided I'd come back to my room for a bit and head back out around 9 or 9:30 and it was a good thing I did, because as soon as I got back in my room I had one last bout of stomach problems.

I need to contact Microsoft again sometime in the next couple of days, because I still can't get Windows to connect to the Internet through this hotel's wifi either. Next time, of course, I'll remember to take my iPhone out of "do not disturb" mode. I was able to connect to wifi on my Kindle Fire with no problem, and will probably have no problem with my Irish Android smart phone as well. I've been charging it since I got back to my room but will give it a try in a few minutes.

There's not that much to see here in Donegal that I didn't see today, but I do want to go back down to the lovely church near where I parked at first, there's another church near downtown, the castle's nearby, and there are a couple of souvenir/craft shops I want to check out. Then it's on to Omagh for tomorrow night, Sligo Tuesday night, Castlebar Wednesday night, Boyle Thursday night, and then on to Galway from Friday night through Monday night.

Being in Galway at the same hotel that long will give me a chance to get all my laundry done. I might also see if I can find somewhere to buy luggage, since both the larger suitcases I brought with me are showing signs of wear and I should probably replace them before I fly from Dublin on over to Glasgow.

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