We left Galway on Friday around 5:30pm (okay, attempted to leave Galway but was stuck in traffic for 1 hour). Left Galway at 6:30pm with the car packed to the brim (my motto: leave nothing behind! which Steph had taken literally) and arrived at the Sunyata Retreat Centre in Clare, 2 hours later. Steph attended an evening meditation session of "Cultivating the Heart" led by Ajahn Thitameda and Ajahn Upekha while I got an early night's sleep. The next morning was awoken by the gong at 5:30am (not everyone's idea of a retreat - though we were just passing through). Enjoyed a few hours of quiet time walking around the Clare countryside - at dawn - before breakfast and said our good-byes to our kind hosts Bart and Marion and headed off to Wexford to catch the Irish Ferry "Oscar Wilde".
Enroute, we had the joy of seeing Tipperary and Kilkenny and all the other counties and towns that we hadn't had much time to see while in Ireland (didn't make it out to the South East coast much). I was sad to board the ferry and watched Ireland grow smaller in the distance. So ends a chapter and so begins another.
We arrived at Cherbourg after too many hours on the ferry. I was seasick for the first half as the seas were rough. By morning they had calmed and we had a few hours to arrival. Note: It's amazing when you have a cabin with a window - for one - the way it's set up on Irish Ferries is that people can walk by outside the window... but the number of pervy people who actually look in!
Enter France: we visited St. Malo (my first time) and a few other stops along the way to Finistére. We stopped for a Polish lunch of perogies in a town off the motorway as the bakery we were hoping to buy a sandwich from didn't have any. Then we visited the nuns at St. James (just South of Pontorson) - Steph's great aunt had been a sister there and he had visited throughout his childhood. We'd stayed with them two years previous and so it was nice to check in with the old ladies and catch up with the goings on of the nunnery. Of the 21 nuns living there only 6 are active as they are all "in the winter of their lives". As there are few recruits and the youngest being in her 40s or 50s - its more of an old age home in a gorgeous setting.
We stopped on a beach and ate fresh mussels and chips - stopped in a real countryside farmer's cafe for the world's cheapest coffee and hot chocolate. The drive was a bit long considering I had a bike tire keeping me from resting my head and was hugging the guitar the whole way through. Everytime we got out of the car or got in we had to follow a routine. Hand Steph the bag holding the computer, unbuckle the seatbelts, gently ease the guitar out the front door, get out of the car - put the guitar back in the car, steph puts the bag onto the seat/ground, gets out himself... and getting in is the same in reverse. Plus the putting away of our sweater or jackets into the nook above the bag. It was a dream to finally arrive!
Happy to be at the French home. á la prochaine!