Monday, July 18, 2011

Video of our trip

Our Two Cents...

The IHH Free Travel Ireland Challenge was thought up of to promote independent holiday hostels and to help increase tourism in Ireland in general. For many years Ireland has been known overseas as an expensive country to travel in and to a certain extent this was true.. especially during the Celtic Tiger.

However, even in the economic boom, independent hostels all over Ireland were endeavouring to keep the price of their beds down as much as possible to assist backpackers and adventurers alike. Staying true to the nature of youth hostels, a lot even offered and continue to offer free accommodation to performers and entertainers. Some even give free beds to those celebrating their birthdays.

The atmosphere in a hostel is unlike any other type of accommodation. They are fun, active and happy places where you can meet people from all over the world and share your stories. Many young people would not be able to afford travel if it weren't for youth hostels providing comfortable accommodation at an affordable price.

With the downturn in the Irish economy and on a global sense, the tourism industry in Ireland has suffered. Many new hotels that sprung up in the naughties went into receivership and, in order to hold their own, dropped their prices. This meant that hostels were suddenly thrown into the market with 4 and 5 star hotels that were offering weekend deals not too far from the price of your average stay in a hostel. To say that hostels cannot compete with hotels is not entirely true, as what lacks in atmosphere in hotels is provided 100 fold in a youth hostel. However, for those that have never experienced a hostel, a hotel is probably the preference especially if the price is affordable. Different strokes for different folks we suppose... but this has taken its toll on independent holiday hostels all over Ireland that should always be available to those who need them. They are more than a bed for the night...they are a platform for interaction and friendly encounters.

The IHH Free Travel Ireland attempts to raise awareness of the plight of some smaller hostels around Ireland who are really feeling the pinch during one of the quietest summers we've had in years. The welcome we received in MacMurrough Farm Hostel was really a Cead mile failte!

Our Trip around the East this past week is proof of an Ireland that is ready and willing to host two young people on a low cost adventure and, it's not only the independent hostels that value this concept, but the local bars and restaurants, activity centres and attractions, who were all only too delighted to share a bit of their food, drink or entertainment with us in return for a small challenge and all in the spirit of fun!

If we keep this good morale and spirit alive in Ireland, we will continue to smile...hail, rain or shine!!

Back to Dublin and last challenge!

The 5 bus dropped us near Kildare street and we walked into Barnacles in Temple Bar. When we got there Susan and the rest of the lovely staff welcomed us. We began designing our Free Hugs Poster, which eventually became a human sandwich board costume! The challenge was to prowl temple bar and try and get 50 free hugs!

After a few photos we set out! We decided just to run at people smiling insanely and just hug them! Some were bewildered..some extactic...Most were happy for the love! It made for some funny video footage!

It didn't take long to clock up a healthy figure of hugs and then the rain started! We ducked in Temple Bar Galleries for a while and then did a few last embraces before heading back to the hostel. It was great fun altogether!

Our last night in Dublin was calm and collected in Barnacles. And BOOM! We had once again completed a 6 day trip in Ireland without spending a single cent!

MacMurrough Farm Hostel, New Ross

We got to New Ross safe and sound with the help of a some lovely Waterford people and indeed half the way with two lads from New Ross.

As soon as we arrived Brian, our host from MacMurrough Farm Hostel, came to pick us up. The weather had been detiorating but everyone in New Ross was still smiling. We jumped aboard the Dunbrody Ship with the local photographer. The local paper had already covered our story so we were "famous" of sorts! Brian took us to The Ros Tapestry Expo at the port. It was an excellent exhibition and well worth visiting to learn about our ancestors! He then very kindly drove us all the way out to Hook Head Heritage centre where we visited the oldest lighthouse in Ireland! We had a great tour around the lighthouse!

On the way back home we stopped at the local pub for a drink. Brian and Jenny's hospitality was to no end. When we arrived the stove was lit in the cottage and fresh flowers had been added to the room especially! We met a french family staying in the other cottage and then were treated to a delicious supper. After eating we agreed to play a few tunes for the other guests and gathered in the cottage for a singsong! They were a wonderful audience!

Brian and Jenny's hostel is full of charm and is so warm and friendly. We had a great night's sleep and they then treated us to a lovely breakfast in the morning with some extremely exotic museli!! We bid our goodbyes and Brian drove us back into NewRoss where we got a tour of the Dunbrody Emmigrant Ship in the port. It was a brilliant tour and we were thinking gosh New Ross have got everything down to a teee!!

At about 11am we bundled onto a BusEireann set for Dublin. It is safe to say that we hope to return to MacMurrough Farm Hostel someday soon!

Dancing for our beds and the road to Tramore

So we managed to get everything together just in time for our Flashmob extravaganza in Kilkenny. Along with Jacqui and the members of Guerrilla T theatre group we assembled on Kieran's Street at 12am and jumped into the madness of the flashmob on our cues! A nice little group of people had gathered to watch and though we were nervous it turned out to be a really fun experience! Everyone clapped and rejoiced as we fell to the ground on the last note of the Beatle's "All together now"! Kilkenny Tourist Hostel was a lovely friendly place and we will be sure to stay there anytime we go to Kilkenny..possibly in a few weeks for The Kilkenny Arts Festival!

Next we had to hit the bothar for Tramore. We were running a bit late at this point but had rang ahead to make sure all was going to plan. Hashmat took us all the way to Tramore despite only originally going to Waterford. It was very kind of him!! Thanks mate!

Upon our arrival in Tramore we went to Beach Haven Hostel. We had missed some of the activites planned but all hope was not lost as there was still going to be time the following morning to do our challenge. So on Thursday evening we chilled in the lovely sunshine on the beach and by the pier of Tramore. We were lucky with the weather that day and even got a bit of colour!

That evening we met the lovely staff of Seahorse Tavern in Tramore. Keith welcomed us and assured us he would look after us. We helped out in the kitchen for an hour and were rewarded with a lovely meal of fish and chips and a chilled glass of white wine. We absentmindedly left Sadhbh's camera in the kitchen and when we returned the next morning Keith gave us two cans of coke for the road! What a gent! Lovely place and a pleasure to get involved.

This absentmindedness was to be a recurring feature of our trip!

The following morning we had lovely pancakes in Beach Haven and set out for our surfing lesson with Freedom Surf School of Tramore. For a bit of sweeping and tidying away we got kitted out in a wet suit and headed down to the beach to catch some waves with our instructor Simon. We had never surfed before so it wasn't surprising that we had much difficulty actually standing up on the board! Our challenge for Beach Haven was to catch a wave so we perservered! Eventually we got better and finally stood up and surfed a wave into the beach! It was a great experience and Simon was very nice and patient with us!!

As soon as we were finished it was another mad sprint to get ready and catch a ride to New Ross....

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Food and Guerrilla T Flashmob Prep

After 30 minutes of busking on Kieran's Street today we had made enough money for our lunch and so we ate in the beautiful surroundings of Kilkenny Castle basking in sunshine!

The kind staff of Kilkenny Tourist Hostel namely Angela and Jacqui recommended a lovely eating house ML Dore's for dinner. Michael, the main man, offered us a delicious meal and glass of wine for absolutely nothing in seems the generosity of the Irish people is going further than we could ever have imagined! So next time you're in Kilkenny...don't miss the chance to taste their traditional and delicious cuisine!

Tonight we practised our dance routine with Jacqui and the members of the Guerrilla T theatre group for the flashmob tomorrow at 12am on Kieran's Street.

We will then be making a speedy depart for Tramore where we will be catching a surf....catching our dinner...and catching some craic!!

Four Courts Hostel, Dublin

We arrived at Four Courts Hostel yesterday afternoon; our first task was to cook up a storm for the guests! Equipped with a €30 budget (sponsored by the hostel) we headed off to Aldi to buy ingredients for our meal: two tortillas, lots of spaghetti bolognaise and a yummy apple crumble for desert! We spent most of the day chopping up our ingredients - it's not easy cooking for that many people!

We also had to find a place to eat, so we headed to O'Shea's on the quays and the kind lady at the bar agreed to feed us in return for a few tunes later that night.

We returned to the hostel well fed with the intention of cooking our meal...but the kitchen was jam packed and making dinner ended up being a hot and stressful process! But we got it all done in the end and it went down a treat. Then it was back to O'Shea's to play our set, and after that we decided to get an early night in preparation for the journey ahead.

So we set off early this morning and now we're in the Kilkenny Tourist Hostel - gorgeous place altogether, you can check it out here!!! Later today we'll be meeting with the Guerrilla T theatre group to learn a dance routine for yet another flashmob operation!

Off to enjoy the sunshine in Kilkenny city now!