Backpackers don’t cry. Even when they find themselves stranded in a rainy town on the northwest coast of Ireland, with no phone, no wifi, and not having eaten anything all day. This is how I arrived in Donegal, and let me tell you, I really sort of wanted to just sit down and bawl my freaking eyes out.

I had never felt less like a true backpacker. Because true backpackers are adventurers who just go where the wind takes them and figure it out as they go, RIGHT? Who needs lunch or an umbrella or a place to sleep? Adventurers are not supposed to panic.

Let me back up. I had arranged to stay two weeks at a farm somewhere in between Donegal and Letterkenny to help someone I’d connected with via Workaway build a website. I didn’t know exactly where, and I had only a first name & email address. We had exchanged a few emails, the last of which told him I’d be arriving in Donegal around 3:30pm on Sunday.

Why did I not get a more details? Because I was going with the WIND, dammit. I didn’t NEED details.

Standing there at that bus drop-off in the rain for 45 minutes, waiting for someone to show up, I was sending up a big F-You to the wind. I glanced around to see if anyone seemed to be looking for me. The only person who seemed to be paying any attention to me at all was a puffy-faced man with a Hitler mustache slowly licking a chocolate ice-cream bar.

“Oh my god, don’t be the person I’m supposed to meet,” I thought.

I considered getting a bus back to Dublin, but the ticket offices are closed on Sundays. I walked down to the tourist information center but…you guessed it, closed on Sundays.

I walked around until I found a little café that grudgingly let me use their wifi. I guess they weren’t all that thrilled about having a soaking wet girl with an over-sized backpack shivering and drinking coffee in the corner. Probably bad for business.

I shot off an email to the person I was supposed to meet and Googled the farm to see if there was an address. There was! And I could walk there in….5 hours.

The only people around seemed to be tourists more lost than I was. And creepy ice-cream eating guy, who was STILL standing there licking what had to be his third ice-cream bar. Wtf? Who just stands in the rain eating chocolate ice-cream bars??

So, walking was out. It didn’t look like I’d have much luck hitchhiking, and the sun was going down. Time to find a room. And a drink.

I checked Hostelworld, which had exactly ONE listing for Donegal. I paid for the coffee and started hiking in that direction. After half an hour of chatting with some girls in the living room about Spanish TV I was just starting to dry out when a spritely man with chalk-white hair and a corduroy blazer came bursting in.

“Ah, there you are!” he exclaimed, putting an arm around my shoulder.

You can understand how I was little confused, seeing as I was pretty sure no one knew who I was in Donegal. Maybe he mistook me for someone else? Or maybe he was senile?

“Come on, grab your things and we’ll be off, then.”

Now I was supposed to just hop in a car with this guy?? All of this going-where-the-wind-takes-me stuff was starting to get old fast. The wind can big time suck it.

Then it dawned on me. (Yeah, I was a little slow on the uptake but it had been a LONG day, and I’d done more drinking than sleeping the last 2 nights in Dublin). This was the guy I was supposed to meet here.

“I forgot whether ye said ye were going to Letterkenny or Donegal so I went to Letterkenny and waited for 2 hours. Then I went home and read yer email and saw you were in Donegal. I figured you’d have made your way here by now so I came to fetch ye. Let’s go get a pint.”

And so we did. And then 2 more.

“So did ye think I wasn’t coming for ye?” he asked.

“Nah,” I assured him breezily. “No big deal. I’m a backpacker. I just go where the wind takes me.”



Mandie is a writer, rebel & web design junkie. In her spare time she enjoys drinking wine, traveling & working on her perpetually unfinished novel. She was a nerd before it was cool.

Related Posts


  1. Maha    

    GREAT STORY. You are indeed a gifted writer, Mandie! Welcome to Donegal…hope you enjoy your stay!

  2. Ali    

    We may be sisters in Europe but we are very different in our traveling methods. I obsessively plan and make 3-6 backups before doing anything… Even then things still go amuck. However that’s why I keep a bottle of Vodka and a big bunch of Milka chocolate on hand when traveling or planning.

    Also you should try as well they don’t have booking fees.

    The everything is closed on sundays thing is really, really annoying. Just wait until you encounter a bank holiday (they’re all the time by the way) everything is closed then as well.

    1. Mandie    

      Haha yeah I’d like to say it’s a life philosophy, but really I’m just a damn lazy planner. It always seems to work out in the end, though. I love the idea of businesses being closed on Sundays and bank holidays…but, it does get challenging. Lol. I don’t actually book on hostelworld, I just get on to look because their database is the biggest. I really haven’t booked anything in advance, I just show up (I fly with the WIND!!) Haha

  3. Amy @ The Unsettled Melriorist    

    Ha, great story! I can see myself doing the exact same thing. For some reason I always expect things to just fall into place, and they usually do, but sometimes they don’t. You’d think I’d learn. I love to plan, but my follow through is terrible. Glad everything worked out for you!

    1. Mandie    

      I think sometimes even when things don’t work out, it can be a good thing! You gain a lot of confidence by realizing how capable you are of handling the unexpected. But…the actual handling of it is not always a lot of fun! Haha

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge