Having never before surfed, it only made sense to dive into it head first, in Ireland, in January.
So there we were, Meg and I, outside of the Heuston train station in Dublin. We'd stumbled up with overpacked bags looking for a said Miranda - the woman who would be leading the group of eager surfers up to Bundoran, a small seaside town in County Donegal, Ireland. We didn't know anyone, but then again, we didn't care. We were simply content with going on an adventure for the weekend. Miranda greeted us with a contagious smile and soon put any reservations we may have had to rest. The 3-hour bus ride to Bundoran was filled with casual banter - oh, and beers! The memo to bring some brews for the ride escaped us, but thanks to our gracious group not once did our hands fall empty. The one thing everyone had wished were empty... our bladders.
Our trip included two nights in the Rougey Lodge hostel and a surf lesson with all necessary equipment. Upon arrival in Bundoran, we dropped our suitcases and headed down the street to the infamous Chasing Bull. The night was spent having some casual adult beverages with new friends. So far, so good in this sweet little surf town!
Saturday morning began with some pretty solid toast and jam as well as some coffee - as if the freezing waters we were about to "surf" in (I say surf lightly) wouldn't sufficiently wake us on on their own. Bundoran Surf Co. was right down the block so we walked on over and started peeling on some wetsuits - and booties and gloves and headgear. I thought I had picked out the sweetest surf hood of all, what with the orange stripe down the middle. No, in fact it wouldn't be until a day later, that I was referred to as the girl who had worn her surf hood inside out all day. Woops...?
After a gorgeous van ride down to the cliff-rimmed beaches, we hopped out, were handed appropriate surf boards and given the greatest surf lesson of all time. Time spent on land warming up and feeling out the boards was nice. What was really nice was stepping into the ocean and not feeling its icy bite. Wetsuits, what a concept! What was the nicest was the feeling when I FINALLY rode, actually rode a wave! Could I turn? No. But could I stand and pulse the board forward? YES! No it didn't happen every time, but the feeling when it did was so triumphant. To be one with the ocean. To hop off and simply float in the other side of the Atlantic. To look around and be fully immersed in these gorgeous waves, outlined by this gorgeous coastline. It was euphoric in a way and I found myself spontaneously smiling at random moments. Even as I write this, I am taken back to a moment where I truly was pure with joy.
That night was filled with homemade fajitas and funny drinking games at Rougey Lodge with strangers who felt like friends. The same guys who had taught us to surf were the ones who joined us for the night out. We danced away the evening at Chasing Bull and washed ourselves clean with another surf the next morning. Bundoran is a little piece of paradise tucked away in the northwest region of Ireland. Though I'm sure visitors emerge in large numbers during the summer months, I can attest to the towns wintertime magic.
Our weekend in Bundoran ended in the way that any weekend in Ireland should - with a Guinness and bangers and mash (drool). Looking around the table, I found myself, Meg, our new Canadian friend, Miranda, a fellow Irishman, and an Italian all laughing and talking surf. We said goodbye to our new friends, twisted up our wet hair, and loaded up for the bus ride home to Dublin. That wouldn't be our last trip to Bundoran.