Luxurious Clifden on the Cheap & Rodrigo Y Gabriela

My blog entries these days seem to revolve around trips to Ireland. It’s largely because life in Salisbury is a bit slow. I work on my writing (update: I have a UK – probably cover – feature coming up in AU Magazine, which you can buy in HMV, should you so desire (most likely to be the December issue, but could be January), as well as an album review or two in the same magazine, and interviews with The Flaws and the founder of Tea In The Park Festival coming up, if anyone has any questions. I’m trying to get involved with The Salisbury Journal and have a couple of other things in the pipeline, too, but we’ll see how that goes), go to the gym, try to exercise enough to counterbalance the excessive amount of my mum’s luxurious cooking I manage to eat when living at home… and that’s about it. So having summarized the UK for you, here’s the latest from Ireland:

It’s not every weekend you get to relax in a four star hotel (well, it’s not every weekend I get to relax in a four star hotel), so the trip to Clifden last weekend was great. Helena got given the free nights in exchange for all the volunteer work she did for Irish Friend of Albania, and we soon worked out that had we paid for the same thing, it would have cost very nearly 1,000 Euro including all the meals. That’s not to say it was worth 1,000 Euros; the place had a great restaurant and a nice vibe, but it was only slightly better than the Ibis that cost less than £50 a night a few weeks back in Bristol. Though it did have a spa, which we hadn’t realized, so had to buy swimming kit to visit the Jacuzzi and steam room, as you do…

Clifden’s an odd place, very local, and all round very expensive (nearly 13 Euro for two Irish coffees), but we had fun walking around the tiny harbor and going for a few drinks in the (distinctly elderly heavy) pubs. Actually we seemed to be the only ones enjoying it, but that didn’t really bother us. There’s a pretty (presumably tidal) bay/ river cutting into the town, which is quite picturesque, but it wasn’t quite as stuck in the hills as I expected, and had a bit of an odd atmosphere to it.

We had a really nice candlelit dinner on one evening, with crab’s claws (for Helena), gorgeous roast dinners, vol au vont and baileys cheesecake for pudding, washed down with a nice bottle of white. Can’t argue with that, especially when it’s all included in the stay (well, apart from the wine). As were our two very oversized (in my case) all you can eat breakfasts each morning. Result.

Monday night we went to see the Mexicans Rodrigo Y Gabriela in Dublin. I’ve never been in the Olympia Theatre before, but I gather it’s something of a stepping stone for Irish acts – playing there’s supposed to meant you’ve made it – and it is really quite beautiful, too. It’s an old theatre with three layers and the place just erupted for Rodrigo Y Gabriela, who honed their odd but incredibly catchy metal-influenced flamenco guitar style (I kid you not) in Dublin over the last few years. Fantastic. I’ll try and remember to come back and stick a link up to my review when I have the chance (edit: link)

Incidentally, for those of you who remember my darker times in Nepal earlier this year (see here), I’ve finally provisionally been given my money back for the fraudulent flight, which is a nice little bonus. I hope I’m not cursing it by saying that, though, and I’ll certainly not be touching the money until they confirm it’s there to keep… in February. I mean, that’s only seven months after the initial problem, after all…

‘Til next time,

James x

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