I walked into the Fitz across the river from the Allied River Hostel after I finished my last blog about Doolin. Adva, Robert's wife, mentioned to me that she would be singing later that night. They were the keepers of the hostel and over the course of my stay I started feeling close to them. My favorite writing spot was a sitting area by the window at the entrance of the hostel. It was just across from the small reception area where Robert was welcoming and advising guests. After the coming and going of guests slowed down, we had a witty exchange and shared personal stories. The Fitz is a more modern pub than O'Connors, with bright new oak benches and the woodwork was much larger. Adva saved me a spot at her table where she was sitting with two other Germans: one was traveling, the other was working at the hostel. The bagpiper (a side pipe apparently) finished explaining the history of his pipe that was invented in Philadelphia. Then he started playing, stomping his foot in rhythm with a forceful look in his bright blue eyes, losing himself in the rhythm. I am not sure what was more fascinating to me: the music itself or seeing his passion for the music. The banjo player joined in.
Adva was asked during a break to sing with the banjo player. She has beautiful light brown curly hair that frames her face. It fell down softly in front of her shoulders when she sat down next to him. People were still chatting when she started to sing. She has a very soulful, dark and warm voice that carried me away into the yearning and pain of the story. The audience hushed each other to be silent until her voice took over the room.
I ended the night talking to my fellow German world traveller. After a few too many whiskeys (I am seeing a pattern developing) we talked about the meaning of life. She was 27 and reminded me a lot of myself at that age. "To make enough money to make an ends, explore the world, and enjoy the small things in life each day, such as the sunshine!"
By now I decided to try each Irish whiskey. My favorite so far is the Connemara 12, followed by the Yellow Spot 12, Redbreast 12 and Green Spot. Thumbs down for Jameson.
The Hostel Experience: Allied River Hostel
In Ennistymon I decided to try out a hostel after an expensive and disappointing meal at the Falling River Hotel. I could not imagine eating more steamed and bland-tasting carrots and broccoli. Hostels would apparently give me flexibility to cook my own meals. The Lonely Planet Ireland recommended the Allied River Hostel for Doolin.
The hostel is located just across the stream and has some lovely sitting areas outside. One could sit just at the river or have a meal on the table outside. Past the reception area is the dining room with old wooden chairs, benches and big, long rustic tables. There was also a fireplace where many of the travelers would sit to relax, read and play games. The kitchen was just off to the right with large refrigerators, as well as several cooking stations and sinks. It had a homey, pristine and clean feeling.
The fellow travelers were from all paths of life: there were professionals like a doctor, students, families and global trotters of all ages. Most of the time guests were very respectful of space, including in the dormitory. It was not "another population" or just "loud students ready to party." I may just continue to stay in hostels until the end of my trip.