Tag Archive | Galway

Enough to Go Around

When we were in Ireland, we enjoyed the little breakfasts that we had at Flannery’s. We always got seated in the little area where the sun rays shone through the sheer curtains. That area was a little bit more private than the crowded, large dining room. Just moments after we were seated, a waiter brought hot coffee, fresh cream and hot toast. We had the option of getting hot food from the menu or buffet, but we always chose the cereal, rolls or yogurt. The only sort of fruit that was available was canned prunes and canned grapefruit. Luckily fruit juices were offered too!

After breakfast, we called a cab from the hotel desk lobby. Our cab arrived shortly after we called. When our cab driver discovered that we were from America, it seemed as if he felt like he was doing us a great favor by telling us about some new up and coming politician from Nevada who could hopefully whip our country back into shape. In his jolly way, he couldn’t believe that we never heard of the fellow. He also mentioned that it was funny that visitors could get lost in the small town of Galway. We didn’t mention to him that we had gotten lost a few times!  Instead we just chuckled. When we told him we enjoyed seeing the Cliffs of Moher the day before, he really didn’t think it was that big of a deal, really…  We guessed that when you live right next to such a grand thing, that maybe you take it for granted?

Galway City Cathedral

After we got dropped off at the Galway City Cathedral and figured out which door to enter, the first thing I noticed was the beautiful stone walls. I admired the craftsmanship of the building that was dedicated in August of 1965. We sat down in one of the pews about 15 rows back from the altar and joined about 50 other people, which was a good showing for a Wednesday. A priest from Scotland said mass, and it was a little difficult for me to understand his thick accent.  The mass was so short, that by the time I began to understand the priest, it was over!

When it was time to receive communion, there was not an orderly formation to get in line like we are used to. People just went on up to the communion rail whenever they pleased, which was all at once. It all worked out fine, because there was enough to go around to all who were there.  After mass, while we were getting a better look around, a group of people were saying the rosary. Their lilting voices echoed off the stone walls.

Next, we explored the area along the River Corrib:

If we found a place we liked, we just stuck with it.  We went to The Cellar (again) for lunch and visited more shops where we bought trinkets and a chocolate candy bar.  We took our candy to Galway Bay and hung out there for a little while and enjoyed the beautiful scenery.  Unfortunately, the day cooled off to give us a chill.  We ventured back to Flannery’s.

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After dinner at Frank’s Bar, we shared a delicious mixed nut, chocolate cheesecake.  We were happy that there was enough to go around.  We planned the next day when we would have to get back in the car and head to the cottages at Spiddal. Katie needed to pack for her trip to London, and Dad and I were going to go to Dublin to explore the city on our own.  I was sad that our visit with Katie was going to be over so soon.

Our time together was going by too fast and there wasn’t enough to go around.

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!

A Sight for Sore Eyes

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I stumbled out of the car and briskly walked towards the door. I was so relieved we arrived. A series of moments had taken place to get me to that door, and I think maybe the seed was planted by the TV show, The Gilmore Girls. Rory, the main character, always talked about how she wanted to backpack through Europe. As my daughter Katie and I watched the show, Katie often commented on how she would like to go to Europe someday.

I would say, “Oh, but that’s so far away. You really wouldn’t want to go that far away from home.” Katie was often reminded about traveling to far away places when her classmates from grade school and high school travelled away on mission trips. “I didn’t even want to bring it up because I knew you and Dad would say no,” she told us. She was right about that.  After Katie went off to college, she hinted about travel abroad programs to Rome and Greece.

“Oh, but that’s so far away. You really wouldn’t want to go that far away from home for that long,” I repeated over again and hoped that something would distract her and make her want to stay. Or I said, “How about you do a short trip, like your sister.” Laura traveled abroad for three long weeks when she was in college. But, Mom’s idea of keeping Katie close to home was not an option for the determined young lady. Katie informed us that she went to a travel abroad meeting at school. “I am going to go to Ireland,” she announced. “The director is awesome, and I think I would learn a lot.” A plan to go to Ireland was smart because of the Irish roots Katie inherited from her father.

It was funny how the orientation meeting for parents and students was on St. Patrick’s Day. I wore my shamrock scarf and my husband dressed in bright Irish green colors. Katie told us that we looked like we were going to a party. As we learned more about the trip, the better we felt.

Next thing we knew, Katie was packing her one suitcase and one carry on that would have to last her for a semester in Ireland. It was hard for me to imagine how such a fashionable young lady was going to manage with one suitcase. As she scattered all of her favorite clothes on the bedroom floor and resolved to eliminate the unnecessary items, I still marveled how her dream of traveling abroad wasn’t even going to be stifled by having to abandon about 90 percent of her wardrobe!

When Katie stood in line with her future travel companions to check on her suitcase at the airport, I realized that the hardest part of being a parent is the letting go. But letting go doesn’t mean that we couldn’t go visit! I never thought that I would be one who would travel abroad, but my husband and I set about making plans.

Soon we were on an airplane to Philadelphia and then on a flight to Dublin. We flew over the Atlantic Ocean at night and having had a very busy day, I longed to lie down, but there was nowhere to go. I thought about how beds were underrated. I snoozed a bit until I was woken up by bits of turbulence or fellow passengers who were coughing, snoring or emitting unusual odors.

Thankfully, the sky started to light up and we saw how different the clouds looked beneath us. They seemed more compact and fluffy! As we went through the cloud bank, and the patchwork quilt of greens and browns greeted us, we felt lucky to see a land that was unfamiliar.

We ate a quick breakfast of eggs, sausage and potatoes and wondered why the breakfast menu offered pudding. We didn’t order pudding, but later Katie told us that Irish pudding is pig’s blood mixed with some other stuff like grains and looks like sausage!

We found the Go Bus, got on board and traveled through the sleepy town of Dublin along the Liffey River. After we went through a long tunnel, we were able to enjoy the countryside. I said, “This is the longest I have ever traveled to see someone!”  We snoozed off and on, and in between we spotted cattle or sheep happily grazing amongst the many colors of green that are divided by stone walls.

When we arrived at the bus station in Galway three hours later, we were surprised that we had to pay 20 cents to go through the turnstile to get to the bathroom. It’s the first time I had to pay for such a visit. The words, “I like to live in America, everything free in America,” a song from West Side Story kept running through my head.

My husband called the rental car company and a very nice young lady came to get us to deliver us to our rental car. We carefully paid attention to how she drove on the right side of the car, but on the left side of the road. It was scary how the traffic came at us from what we thought was the wrong direction. The pedals on the floor are the same as in the US, but everything else was backwards. We could not find signs identifying the names of the streets. The driver pointed out that sometimes they are on the sides of buildings or stuck on stone structures!

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By the time we were in our rental car and ready to go, I prayed that we would make it safely to our destination. My husband drove, and I think I was glad it was not me.  It took a while, but we found our hotel which was quite crowded with people trying to check in. When we got to our room, we grabbed a few items from our suitcase to deliver to our daughter, went to reception to ask for directions and headed out.

I felt cramped as we drove along because the streets are quite narrow and don’t have shoulders. It always felt like we were going to hit the curb, and I hated that I felt like a driving instructor as I had to remind myself and my husband to stay on the left side of the road. The travel book that I read before we left said that driving in Ireland is stressful; I wished that the author would have elaborated that point a little more because I missed seeing how beautiful the sky and mountains were and the pretty bay that we passed by because I was worried about everything! When we saw the sign we were looking for, we scooted over into the driveway, got honked at, passed by a parking lot, and found the cottage with a big sigh of relief.

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We rehearsed the procedures of putting the car in park. I got out and knocked on the door. We arrived at the time we predicted. When Katie greeted us, I thought to myself, “You are really a sight for sore eyes.” We hugged and I knew that all that it took to get to that door was going to be worth it. Not only to visit with our daughter but to be in such a beautiful place.

The journey to that door helped us discover that our children’s dreams can be and often are contagious!

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.  ~St. Augustine