We were thinking for the last couple of weeks what would be a good post to start our blog with and after being away for a weekend in Louisburgh we find that the experience we had is worthy of being our first post as we had an absolutely magical and amazing experience that we want to share with you. So here it goes:
Sitting at home on a Saturday afternoon watching “The Rain” on Netflix (we are still unsure if we like the show or not), suddenly, Tracie’s phone started ringing and a lovely guy Shane asked if we are still coming to The Atlantic Lodge in Louisburgh for our weekend trip which we had booked a couple of weeks ago. I could see the panic in Tracie’s face as she said: “Oh did I not cancel this? I booked it online and it completely went out of my mind.” After a short conversation it was clear we either had to go or let our booking fee go to waste by being lazy and watching more Netflix. It was clear we could not do the latter and as such we rushed to pack our things and hopped into the car for a 4 hour drive to Louisburgh, Co. Mayo.
The drive was pretty relaxed and Shane had told us there was a BBQ planned in the evening for all people that stayed. We weren’t sure what to expect but made a short stop at a shop to get some food for the BBQ.
At 7.30pm we finally arrived at the Atlantic Lodge and it was even better than anything we had imagined. The place was buzzing with people everywhere in the hostel. A few guys were building a table and others started to cook in the open plan kitchen. A few were sitting outside and chatting. Even though everyone seemed to be busy there was a very calm atmosphere from the moment we left the car. Shane greeted us as well as a few other guests and volunteers that stayed at the hostel. Shane gave us a brief tour of the building, there was a big yoga room, decorated with a lot of thought and creativity. The view overlooked the area facing the Atlantic Ocean and Cross Beach which is only a 15 minute walk away. There were sofas on the walls of the room which were decorated with pillows and it looked very inviting and cozy. The kitchen was built in an open plan adjacent to the yoga room with a bar top/ kitchen counter in the middle that can be used for food preparation or to sit down and enjoy the home cooked meal. The reception area consisted of a small reception desk, a shoe shelf, where the normal runner could be swapped for flip flops to get that surfer lifestyle feeling from the first minute. In the rear of the room there was another small sitting area with a fire stove, table and sofas which were just as inviting and comfortable looking as those in the yoga room. Upstairs were the bedrooms for the guests and a bathroom.
Shane explained that this is the first year that the company Big Style which is running the Atlantic Lodge had rented the house on a full time basis and started to renovate the whole building as well as the outdoor area. Before this they had been renting the house only for weekends when they would bring down pre-booked groups for a adventures weekend away. This hostel tries to be a place for travellers and holiday makers to enjoy a weekend trip with opportunities for adventurous activities but also to be a hub and meeting point for the local native community. It was clear to see that a lot of thought and love went into the decoration and renovations. There were little fairy lights on the staircase, candles everywhere and photographs on the walls which Chris the owner of Big Style took on his travels and work overseas.
Shane carried on with the tour and showed us the outdoor area where a tipi and tent were built up which were also available to rent for the alternative overnight stay with family or friends. We walked around the house and could see two cabins one of which was our “room”. There were fairy lights all the way up to the cabins that gave the whole picture just a beautiful romantic look. The cabin itself was decorated in a very minimalist style and consisted of a very comfortable double bed, a chair and a small coffee table. Shane explained that they tried to create a feel of community and maybe almost a feel of communal living within the hostel and after our stay we think that the guys running the place really succeeded in this.
Once we got settled we joined the other guests for the BBQ, We enjoyed the delicious homemade food while sitting on the porch and chatting with one another. After dinner there was the option to go to the local pubs or stay in the hostel and after the long drive we decided to stay. We enjoyed a glass of wine and inspiring conversations with some of the other guest before retiring to bed.
The next day started with the breakfast, which was included in the price of the stay, at the newly built table in the yoga room which proved to serve just as well as a dining room. After this we were headed for the beach and whoever felt like it was able to get wet suits and surfboards or stand up paddle boards to give it a try.
The beach was lovely and picturesque with white sand and Clare Island in the background. We enjoyed relaxing a while on the beach and went for a little drive afterwards which led us to Silverstrand Beach in The Lost Valley. This beach was just as beautiful and our drive there allowed us to enjoy the view the rough wildness of the landscape in the West of Ireland. After a walk on Silverstand Beach we went to Westport which is a lovely small town catering for all tourist needs from local shops, pubs, food and scenery. The evening was spent again with other guests from the Hostel.
Our final morning started again with a lovely breakfast. Some of the guys had been building a compost toilet over the last week and this project was finally complete. It was nice to see that even the guests that only arrived two nights before started to take part in projects like this and helped to complete them.
It was really a lovely unexpected weekend break away. The hostel staff managed really well in establishing a sense of community which made us feel like we were on travels in a country far away. We left around lunchtime with the promise to return.