Archive | November 2013

Sights Like These, I Have Never Seen Before!

There was quite a friendly man from Dublin on our day tour, and he managed to ask practically everyone where they were from.  There was a big group from Finland and three smaller groups from Switzerland, Yugoslavia, and Dublin. As far as we could tell, our small group of three were the only Americans.

As we passed Galway Irish Crystal, the coach driver, John, told us that we could find chandeliers there that cost thousands of euros. The sparkling gems shined through the windows as we drove by. As we passed by Galway Bay, John asked if any of us knew who sang the song “Galway Bay.”  I never heard the song, until the friendly man from Dublin announced that Bing Crosby was the one, and he proceeded to sing to us.  Bing Crosby sang that tune during his musical tribute to Ireland that was filmed in 1966 in Dublin. Click here, if you would like to hear Bing sing with a wee bit of an Irish accent.

Our first stop was at Monks Seafood Restaurant and Bar, Ballyvaughan Bay.  We stopped to visit what the Irish call “the toilet.”  I learned not to ask about the locations of rest rooms in Ireland because that question will be received by an odd look.

As we traveled along, the Dubliner kept on singing tunes.  During his breaks, John talked about rock formations, the Celtic Tiger, and economic times.

Our next stop was the Ballyalban Fairy Fort.

I tried, but I couldn’t find any fairies.

We enjoyed the countryside, stopped to see a 5,000-year-old tomb, and drove by the O’Brien Castle.

Next were the high crosses at Kilfenora.

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When we stopped for lunch at Gus O’Connor’s Pub, we were instructed to be done in 45 minutes.  We rushed in and gave our order, worried about how it would be possible for the restaurant to get everyone’s food ready in that short of time.  When our food order came to us very quickly, we realized that they had a great system.

My salmon was very fresh and was served with mashed potatoes, mashed carrots, asparagus, and topped with a sauce and tiny little shamrocks, for good luck, I’m sure.

After we boarded the coach, John counted and noticed that some people had gone missing.  Soon our friendly Dubliner was back on the bus with his companions, being escorted onboard by John.

“I left a full pint at the bar,” the Dubliner said sadly.  He had grown a little quiet before we stopped for lunch, but the moment the wheels on the bus started turning, he was singing tunes again.

Soon we stopped at our destination.  We had an hour and a half to explore The Cliffs of Moher.  We guessed that the temperature was around 60 degrees, but the strong winds made it feel much cooler.

Sights like these, I have never seen before.

Towards the end of our stay, we visited the gift shop to warm up.  When we got on the coach, everyone was very quiet and seemed to have gotten their fill of fresh air!  We were not surprised that no one needed to get escorted onto the coach this time.  The three of us talked about how the cows were always happily grazing.  If only they knew what a lovely scene was just 400 yards away from their barbed wired fence.

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John drove us along for quite a ways.  We stopped briefly to look at the sheep.  They stopped munching and looked our way, as if they were happy to see us.

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The cows caused a bit of a traffic jam when their path crossed right in front of ours.

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It seemed as if cars disappeared when we traveled by each other.  See how little the car looks in this picture?

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When we got back to our hotel, the three of us had an “American meal” of pizza and Caesar salad.  It was a great way to end a great day.

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All Turned Around

After learning how to do something one way and having that something get all turned around can lead one to a weird feeling of confusion. That’s how it was when we were driving in Galway. Roundabouts snuck up when we least expected them, and we were lucky that we always remembered to go left. If one way streets are clearly marked, we couldn’t figure out how. The old familiar way of telling the direction of one ways didn’t work because the cars parked facing different directions.  Plus, we might have felt better about our whereabouts if we had a map. The car rental place ran out after the busy summer season! The hotel gave us one that looked like a place mat from Perkins waiting to get colored.

After we parked by the bay, we talked about how driving was a bummer. We agreed that all the times that we were not in the car were the best times.  So we left the car in its parking space, and did a lot of walking!

A beautiful day greeted us:

Katie showed us the way around.

We visited a beautiful church, Our Lady of Galway.

We walked to Eyre Square, ate lunch at The Cellar and wandered about the shops.

After we found the car and got back to the hotel, Katie recommending going to King’s Head for dinner.  A nice cab driver took us there.  We ordered lamb stew and fish and chips which were both delicious.  We explored Eyre Square some more and found a crowded pub with some gentlemen singing while being accompanied by an accordion player.  Things were quite lively at that pub for a Monday night!

Having our daughter show us around a place that was unfamiliar was a different and new experience.  Thankfully it was a more comforting way of getting all turned around!

Home Away From Home

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Ireland was so welcoming, that it felt like our home away from home. When we checked into Flannary’s and saw that the room that the staff thought was ready for us wasn’t quite ready, we went back to tell the receptionist. We ended up getting a larger room with an extra bed. Now we had one double bed and two twin beds. Dad said, “One for each of us:  Mama Bear, Papa Bear and Baby Bear!”

Since Papa Bear and I had traveled for hours and were awake most of that time, Papa Bear stayed in the room while Baby Bear and I went to the hotel restaurant. The restaurant was crowded for that time of day. Everyone seemed bubbly as their conversations seemed to bounce off the walls. As we looked at the menu, even though we longed to try an Irish coffee just because of its name, we decided to get a Bailey’s coffee instead.  We knew it would taste better to us.

The waiter looked our way every once in a while in between waiting on tables. When he checked in with us, I admired his lilting voice. Most times I could understand the Irishmen, but when the men talked very fast, it was difficult for me to understand. I was glad to have Katie there to translate for me, even though they were speaking English!

Because Katie and I hadn’t had a good sit down chat for quite a while, we talked for a couple of hours! Lately our only means of communicating had been through Skype or sending in-box messages every once in a while. Not knowing what was new in her life was quite a change for me since I was used to hearing from Baby Bear almost every day.

When Papa Bear joined us, we decided to stay at the hotel restaurant for dinner since the food appeared to be quite good. When Sean delivered our entrees, it was like the comforts of home to sit down and eat a warm meal of roasted chicken with mashed potatoes and veggies. Papa Bear liked his fish and chips, and Baby Bear enjoyed a plate of pasta.

As we munched away, a gentleman who was sitting at the bar, suddenly busted out in song. We had no idea what he was singing, but the Gaelic words and melody were a hit amongst the crowd.  His act of bursting out in song didn’t seem like it was anything out of the ordinary to the staff or customers.  His serenade only lasted a short while, and then he was gone.

As we finished up our meal, it felt like a blessing to have the car safely parked in the lot having survived the travels of our first day.  We were glad to get ready to settle in and get a good night’s sleep on a bed!

Mama Bear’s bed was “just right!”

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