I am a mess. I have no idea how to write this entry. But here is my best attempt at organized chaos.
TRAVELING TO GALWAY:
My flight was uneventful and sleepless. But once I got off the plane and realized I was on Irish land, I felt tremendous relief…which made me laugh. I guess in the back of my mind there was an irrational fear that my trip was not real. As if once I got to the plane they were going to say to me, “JK! You did not really book this trip, you dreamt it. Get off this plane.” Or even worse, “Ireland does not really exist! It is a government scam!” But no worries, Ireland is legit. And the Irish luck is totally on my side. I got on the bus to Dublin, Heuston Station, just in time, and I did not have to wait a single minute to get on the train to Galway. Advice: take the bus instead. It is the same amount of time and costs A LOT less. I learned this the hard way.
I arrived in Galway half asleep, the memory now a blur. I just remember the joy when I saw my hostel and realized that it was legit, too! Not a scam. In order to get my jetlag under control, I did not go to bed. I immediately wandered the streets alone. I could have taken the free Galway walking tour (which I will eventually do). But I realized that going out alone before taking the tour made me afraid. So I did it, just to prove to myself that I could.
I am generally good with directions and finding my way around with maps. Unfortunately, my skill does not translate in Ireland. Streets turn and twist, not really parallel to each other like in Florida. I tried following the street signs, but that only got me more lost and confused. So I gave up control. Who cares what street I was on? I was walking alone, in the rain, in Europe!!! That’s all there was to know, and that was enough.
After ending up in the same street about five times, I finally found St. Nicholas church. Though it was built recently (around the 60’s, if I recall correctly) it feels ancient. I sat there for a while, lucky to find it empty, except for the gentleman that was playing the exquisite pipe organ. Ah,this is the life.
One of the first things I did in Galway was EAT! I was starving. After having no luck with my map once again, I walked into Lynch’s cafe. I was so confused, and kept laughing because I knew I stood out. I was dressed in full rain gear ( rain pants and all ) in a room of chic Europeans sipping tea. I was so confused. It seemed to be a buffet, a table service restaurant and a cafeteria all a the same time. I waited for a hostess, but there was none. I sat down and ordered beef and vegetable pie (cheapest choice on the menu ). I could not understand a single word my waiter was saying. I instinctively replied, “No, thank you” to everything he said…just in case. It was hilarious and fascinating! The room had a really old piano and picture frames with music sheets instead of pictures. My dish had enough potatoes to fill a family of five!!! And enough to keep me full for the rest of the day! Everything in Ireland seems to have potatoes and meat.
The next day, I went on an 8 1/2 hour tour of Burren and the Cliffs of Moher. The previous day, as excited as I was…I felt tired, lost, confused and alone. Plus I was kind of nervous at the idea that strangers would come in my room during the night…sleeping right next to my bed…But all I needed was a good night rest to bring back my absolute joy, astonishment and sense of adventure! And so my Wednesday began…
The tour was great and cheap enough. The tour guide was so nice, but I could not understand half of what he was saying…Though I am fluent in English, my trouble understanding some people here reminds me that English is not my native language. Whenever I understood something, it always made me laugh. Mainly out of joy that “I understood that!” But also because he had a great sense of humor, speeding up the bus at one point because, ” my mother in law lives in the area.”
We made several stops on our way to the cliffs. The Dunguaire Castle/Kinvara was beautiful! From the 16th century! It was small and cute, and you had to pay to get in. Instead, I decided to walk around it…and I will never forget what I saw. Completely isolated from the tourist crowd cramming into the castle for a short 15 minutes, I followed a tiny little path behind the castle. It was filled with green, green, green, and spots of yellow flowers, and I felt as if a fairy would appear before my eyes. The birds, the green little forest, the tiny path, the majestic grey stone wall, the water, and the feeling of isolation…a little private, magical moment in an enchanting place. I have never felt more like a princess ( a princess in chunky, full out rain gear, haha! ).
The Gleninsheen Wedge Tomb, dating back to 2500 B.C. was too incredible. Let’s just say that at that point, I was ready to open up my arms, spin and sing, “The hiiiills are aliiiveee!!!”
I also tried Irish coffee…with whiskey…which I forgot how much my stomach hates…But hey, I guess I hoped being in Ireland would get rid of this aversion. Nope. And I am very sorry to admit that I wasted good Irish alcohol. ( My friend Christy will not forgive me ). But like my tourist friend sitting next to me at the pub said : “hey, you are helping the economy.” Hey, you are welcome, Irish coffee’s on me!
I saw 6th century crosses, a “must be there to understand” majestic fairy fort. It gets just the right amount of sun rays to make you feel you are in a fantasy movie. I cannot believe places like this exist in a country where humans actually live. This place feels holy.
I spent the day with a lady in her 40’s or 50’s ( let’s call her Lily ) and a college student traveling Europe ( let’s call him James ). Lily is traveling Ireland alone, being funny and generous and paying pretty much for everything for James and I, including souvenirs. Her motive? “I am a rich ex-wife and you are college students on a budget. Plus you guys are doing what I wish my own children will do.” James has been backpacking for a while now, visiting many countries and playing life by ear. I can’t help but feel huge respect for that.
I will save the details of the cliffs for another entry…it just deserves THAT much attention.
I do have to mention that every time we got off the bus…the rain would stop. We go on the bus, and it would rain a bit. Being a sucker for fantasy, I will now conclude that a weather fairy was following our tour bus…Because Ireland is that kind of magical place where you can say things like that out loud and believe they are true.
Wishing you the best of Irish luck all the way from Galway.