Sunday, 27 June 2010

Sea Sessions 2010

Another nice trip across Ireland to the West coast, this time to attend the Sea Sessions rock festival, in Bundoran (Donegal). I left Friday morning (I really love flexible timetables), and my first stop was in Longford, to have lunch and tea with a good friend of mine; after that, I followed some really cool small roads, far more adequate for Sputnik than the motorways, where I was basically the only vehicle on the road, give or take a few local tractors. Arriving to Donegal at dusk was magical!

Once arrived, I pitched my tent in the local GAA pitch, which was reserved for festival-goers: thousands of tents piled up on top of each other! I got myself set up, and then rushed for the festival location, which was right on the beach, really cool! I saw the Fun Lovin' Criminals, who were surprisingly good; although I didn't know most of their songs, I had a good time listening and even singing along, as they kept interacting with the crowd. Really good stuff.

Back in the campsite, I went to bed around 2am, fully equipped with ear-buds and and eye band (wouldn't want to be woken up by the sun rising before 5am!). Woken up? I hardly slept at all, with the never-ending party in the campsite, and all the people drinking and shouting and constantly tripping on my tent. Gotta love the festival feeling!

Saturday I went surfing! It was great once again, although with the fat waves of that day, the beginner longboard (9ft) I had was totally inadequate, and kept being lifted from behind, making me constantly dive nose first. Still, it was a lot of fun.

The afternoon was a typical "rock festival" day, playing drinking games, and chatting with loads of people at the campsite, including some kids from the North that kept telling me I had a really strong "free-stater accent"!... In the evening I went to the concerts again, this time to see Paul Weller, who was great musically, but not so good at interacting with the crowd. Still, this time I knew I could bring my camera and not be denied entry, so he got the pretty pictures.

Sunday morning, after another rough and short night, I went surfing again. It far better: I grabbed an 8ft board (still foam, though), and was surfing for 3 hours, including a good 20 minutes under torrential rain, which was absolutely magical!

After a hearty lunch and a big cup of coffee to keep me awake!, I finally grabbed Sputnik and made my way back to Dublin. Again I used the small regional roads as much as possible, first along the coast and then towards Dublin; the traffic was minimal, and the scenery splendid.
It was another great weekend away, and I'm more and more glad I brought Sputnik with me to Ireland!

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Biking'n'surfing Lahinch

When preparing my move to Dublin, I had to decide on whether to sell my motorbike there, or bring it over to Dublin. Since I've yet to find a way to sort out my bike license, and Ireland is not one of the "ride your 125 with a B license" countries, it's not 100% legal to ride it here, I guess, even though I'm fully insured and registered. But I couldn't separate myself from Sputnik, for all the good and bad that bound us together! And I'm quite glad I brought it along.

So this last weekend I went on my first bike tour around Ireland. I decided to finally pick up surfing again, so I went to Lahinch, in the West coast, for a couple of days of surfing, and cruising around.

The outwards trip was a bit boring. The roads in Ireland have definitely improved a lot in the last few years, which is great news for car drivers, but not so much for small bikes! Poor Sputnik does 100Km/h top speed, screaming in pain. And the road from Dublin to Ennis is practically all motorway now... But once I got to the narrow roads of the Burren, Sputnik really showed all its glory!

As I messed up my way out of Dublin at the start, it took me nearly 5h to get there. No time to rest, as the surf lesson was just about to start, so straight to the sea it was, for an extra 2h. I was wrecked after that!

I had some homemade food in the hostel kitchen (all the way from Dublin, am I getting organised or what!), and then went for a couple of pints, and watch some live music. Coming back to the hostel at nearly 1h30am, I was still the first person returning to the room, which was full (13 beds)! I knew there was no way I could sleep until everyone was back, so I waited for a while, and when people starting coming back, I got to know quite a few of them - a great bunch!: Riona, Shauna, Eugene, Brian, Kevin, Christina and Alan.

The next day, I went surfing with them. Another great session, I love this stuff, and really need to keep it up, to see some progress. After surfing in the morning, the lads were really nice, and let me hang around for the day with them. We went up to the Cliffs of Moher (it's been a loooong time since I was last there), crossed a farmer's field, and had a picnic in the fields (with a gorgeous view point).

After that, we wandered around for a bit, looking for a viewpoint Kevin knew. It was well worth it: we found it in the end, and had a great vantage point all for ourselves!

We all hit the road after that, and I decided to avoid some of the motorway, by cutting across to Killaloe (thanks for the hint, Shauna and Riona!). The roads were just fabulous for Sputnik, and literally empty of cars, I had a wonderful time riding around. It was great to see Killaloe once again as well (it must have been 8 years or more, since I was last there).

That's it, I joined the Limerick-Dublin road after that, still had time to chat a bit with a biker from Belfast in the petrol station in Roscrea (who was astonished to see Sputnik, the tiny bike from Paris!), and then it was a boring motorway all the way home. I had a wonderful weekend, made some cool new friends, and can't wait to go back for more!