Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Revisiting County Sligo in Ireland

It is today that I feel it's more wintry than autumnal. Never mind what season it's supposed to be.The knee-high boots are back on, the silk scarf isn't a mere accessory, and the cotton mac can't be worn open.

The weather reminds me of a visit to Sligo, Ireland, 3 years ago. The coastal seaport in the Northwest of Ireland is known for its marvellous natural beauty, and literary and cultural connections. I was mesmerised by the solitude and peace the surroundings offered, it's perfect for creative minds seeking inspiration and asylum. It's no wonder then that the first Irishman honoured with the Nobel Peace Prize for Literature, William Butler Yeats (W. B. Yeats) spent his childhood days in County Sligo. He considered Sligo as his spiritual home, that even though he was born in County Dublin, he chose Sligo, his mother's hometown, as his final resting place. His brother, Jack Butler Yeats, an illustrator, comics pioneer, and holder of the distinction of being Ireland's first Olympic medalist, also spent his boyhood in Sligo.

Irishman Bram Stoker's (author of Dracula) mother, Charlotte Mathilda Blake Thornley,  was raised in County Sligo.

The international pop music scene had its share of Sligo sons in the form of boyband Westlife. Not that you care perhaps, but you could use this trivia in a pub quiz or game show.

These shots are from an old camera that I binned a couple of years back, so the quality isn't as remarkable as shots taken via more recent models. I had no concept of Instagram or filters yet in 2011, so everything you'll see here are digitally untouched.

Mr. Tittle-Tattles himself spent his boyhood in Sligo. He has always spoken of its soul-cleansing and redeeming effect on each visit. I couldn't agree more.

We drove around town after breakfast one morning. The above photos, taken while driving down the lake, is the rear view from his mother's house. The famous lake, known as Lake Isle of Innisfree, is the namesake of W. B. Yeats' 1888 critically acclaimed poem.

As most would know, Ireland doesn't have the sunniest and driest of weather, but the couple of times I  visited, I've been greeted by a crisp and clean air bathed in sunshine.

The Atlantic Ocean almost lulled me to sleep.

The sun setting in the Sligo horizon has been one of the most beautiful sceneries I've ever witnessed in my life. The stillness made me even more aware of the beauty that surrounded me, and that my soul thrives in silence.

I was born and raised in a tropical country and spent my childhood in a coastal town where I walked to the seafront. Whereas a tropical beach speaks of celebration, fun, and relaxation, a wintry one evokes calmness, introspection, and inner peace. I feel privileged to have experienced both in this lifetime.

Lonely Planet has recently listed Ireland as 5th in its list of Best Travel in 2015. 

As quoted in the Irish Independent newspaper, 

“Ireland is stunningly scenic," according to Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015 - an annual collection of trends, destinations and experiences for the year ahead, published today.
"It is the real deal... its traditions – music, dance, whiskey and beer – [are] firmly intact, and the cosmopolitan, contemporary Irish are just as friendly and welcoming as their forebears were known to be.”

 I've been back to Ireland once more after this trip and definitely going back again next year, and with the Philippines taking the 8th spot, I am indeed coming home.

 More of Ireland's countryside in succeeding posts.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Berchtesgaden: A Quick Stop in the Bavarian Alps

Summer has officially packed its bags a few weeks back. After that, summer to me is a state of mind.

In August, Mr Tittle-Tattles and I went to see the 'Eagle's Nest' or Kehlsteinhaus in Obersalzberg, a mountainside retreat in the German Bavarian Alps close to the border of Austria.  It was the former retreat house of Adolf Hitler which was presented to him by the National Socialist Party on his 50th birthday. View and read it HERE if you missed it.

On the way back to Munich, we spent a bit of time in Berchtesgaden. Although it is very much geographically part of Germany, its proximity to Austria renders a more Austro-Bavarian architecture reminiscent of the ones we've seen in Salzburg.

At the site of Dokumentation Obersalzberg from where we started the descent to the market town of Berchtesgaden

16 degrees closer to the mountains but the sun was out and about to keep us warm

Notice that most buildings in the town are decorated with paintings and artwork depicting religion, traditions, and way of life. I call Salzburg and Berchtesgaden 'caketown' because of their pastel-coloured buildings. Wooden balconies and flower boxes are common physical features that add to the countryside charm.

I was tempted to taste the water, but decided to just feel it on my hands

I'll choose a summer day over any bad hair day, but in the meantime, much to my dislike, I'm having more of the latter. I guess I can say that summer is mind over matter.

How was yours?

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