As I write, I’m in a coffee bar in Galway. The wifi is perfect, much better than that at our Airbnb. It’s like the old days of being in an Internet Café, except there are no PCs here, just a few people with phones and one of us with a fullsize keyboard. And the coffee is great: so good, I had a second cup. No cake, though.
The medieval streets and old buildings are in stark contrast to the modern shops and brightly coloured murals. In fact, walking through the pedestrianised area, it had the same vibe as Camden with its markets and buskers.
Galway though: I am trying desperately to recall whether my Mum ever said that her father had come from Galway originally. It’s all part of the long-term project to track down the family history, eventually.
We thought about staying in town to catch some live music at one of the pubs – something a bit more official than the 12-year old lad playing the banjo in the street when he should be at school – but a late, large lunch meant that we were too full to face more drinks.
We also saw an Irish dancer: she was very good not least because she didn’t trip over her own feet on the cobbles.
Yesterday we went for a long drive to see the Cliffs of Moher. So did everyone else in Ireland, we hadn’t seen so many people in one place since Dublin airport. It was a gorgeous day for a cliff-top walk, but, no, on this occasion, we gave it a miss. We came here to get away from people, after all. We’ve been spoiled by the long, empty roads which are in great condition, on the whole.
Even on the narrow roads when we encounter someone driving towards us, we’ve had no problem, everyone is polite and waves ‘thank you’.
We stopped at Doolin for a while and looked out towards the Aran Islands while walking on the limestone rocks of the Burren. We saw the Cliffs in the distance too, so we can, sort of, tick them off.
When we picked up our rental car, it had only been driven 260km or so. While driving, I keep missing out on seeing various magic numbers on the mileometer: I missed 333, 666, 999, 1000, 1111, 1234 and now I’m just waiting to get to 2000 km. So come to think of it, we’re looking at a kilometreometer aren’t we?
We’re now staying at our second Airbnb place, run by Maura and her little ‘white’ dog, Charlie. It’s a lovely, big house, 5 bedrooms, pretty much in the middle of nowhere, just up the road from Loughrea.
And it’s the second booby-trapped Irish b&b place we’ve stayed at. In both places, the soap dispenser in the bathroom has been rigged so that when you press down, the soap misses your hands and heads straight for your torso.
On arrival at Loughrea a couple of days ago, we spent some time by the lough that gives the town its name. Close by where we parked, there is a children’s playground, there are tennis courts and there is a collection of outdoor gym equipment. I didn’t want to show the locals up by having a go, obviously.
But that’s not to say we’re not getting any exercise. We’re walking a lot and some of it is quite hilly. Not Spanish Point, though. That was another nice, flat, sandy beach, where we had a lot of fun: writing in the sand, juggling pebbles, standing in a cave out of the wind but in which, water was falling, rain that had spent millions of years draining through the earth. Probably.
We left our Airbnb in Milltown a little more hastily than planned. The heating had gone off, and the bungalow was suddenly uncomfortably cold. Plus, the cold water tap in the kitchen had run out of water. We stopped at Tralee for breakfast, at a place called Chopin’s, easy to find as it’s just along the road from Mozart’s.
We caught the ferry across the Shannon from Tarbert to Killmer and that was a smooth ride. We stayed in the car for the duration, and it was a total surprise when we docked as we had had no sensation that the boat was even moving.
The next place of interest was Ennis, mainly because on one of the roundabouts is a statue of a cow. We visited the local craft market to get out of the rain, and two handbags later, we were able to leave. Pretty handbags, it must be said: homemade.
I am now writing in the b&b, in the bedroom, on 3G (or maybe 4G), with the window open to let in the flies and the sound of cows lowing in a nearby field, along with some birdsong.