Saturday, 31 August 2019

11 Sunnyhill Terrace (Waterford, Ireland)

I thought I’d get a good nights sleep last night, considering how comfortable the bed was, but I was up several times. Eventually I stayed asleep and woke refreshed. Perhaps the rain and wind woke me in the night, but I can’t be sure. A significant storm passed over last night but was sunny this morning when I got out of bed at around 8:00 a.m.

From talking with my Airbnb host last night I found out that the washing machine is located out in the backyard shed where the boiler is located. I looked everywhere for it yesterday and didn’t expect it to be out there considering how large the kitchen is. In any case, I put in a load of wash as I drank my morning coffee.

I’m making a second pass at my travel plans for the next couple of months by starting to fill in train times between some of the cities. All of my flights have been booked. I’m also looking ahead at next year and see that I have 17 countries to visit from January to May, which works out to be around three per month which is doable, however I expect to be in France for two to three weeks during this time to visit locations from Normandy to Grenoble.

My main attraction to see today is the Waterford factory and left the flat a little after noon today. I noticed that it was a little uncomfortable walking but I made it okay to the place where the tour of the Waterford factory begins.

The tour was very well done and we were able to see the whole process from the blowing of the glass, cutting, and the finishing process. The factory seems to specialize in many of the more unique pieces and image that the more commercial pieces are probably produced in their factories in Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Germany.

I had heard that the Medieval Museum across the street had some amazing Irish treasures so I walked over there and joined a tour at 2:00. Our guide was quite entertaining and knowledgeable about this history of Waterford and Ireland as well. This museum contains some of the oldest artifacts from Ireland history because of its long history. Waterford was the first city in Ireland and was founded by Vikings in the 9th century and eventually Anglo-Normans invaders in the 12th century.

It was now getting more difficult to walk and decided to take a taxi back to my flat. Before getting a taxi I saw a church nearby (Christ Church Cathedral) that I wanted to visit. This is where some of the artifacts that I saw in the museum were discovered as the present church was being built.

The taxi driver that took me back to the flat was interesting and entertaining too. He had a very thick accent and perhaps was born in some country in Africa. He entertained me by quoting lines from Macbeth and King Lear as we drove along. This was certainly unexpected. He wasn’t exactly sure where I needed to be but we worked together to get me to the correct address.

I’ve had my afternoon nap and after I publish this blog entry I’ll work on making dinner. I have another Harry Potter movie in my queue and will watch that before going to bed.

Tomorrow I’ll see a few more sites within Waterford before heading out to the airport for my helicopter tour that begins early in the afternoon. This will be my third helicopter tour since I’ve been traveling.

Friday, 30 August 2019

#20 Popes Hill, Popes Road (Cork, Ireland)

Had a fairly good sleep last night and woke up early enough to get ready (clean and pack) for my move to Waterford. This is the first place I’ve stayed in Ireland that didn’t have a dishwasher and I certainly missed it while I hand washed the dishes from last night.

I was out the door right at 11:45 a.m. which gave me time to order a taxi, get to the bus depot and buy a ticket, and visit an ATM to get a little pocket money.

I have just finished stop #5 on my Ireland tour and Waterford will be #6. I really have to think back at what I saw at each stop and thankful that I keep a travel blog and also my phone records where I’ve been. Seeing so much in a relatively short period of time can be daunting in regards to retaining everything I’ve learned and seen.

On the bus to Waterford I again started planning my visit. After a couple of experiences with tour buses maybe I need to do something different. Once I opened up to new possibilities I saw the answer while browsing on my phone. A helicopter ride! I decided to make a reservation as one of the first things I do when I get into my Waterford flat. Of course I’ll go through the Waterford factory when I’m here. That is a given.

When I got off the bus I found that I needed to either call or flag down a taxi. No line of taxis waiting at the station. Just as I was making a call I saw a taxi heading for me and I flagged him down. It worked out well and I was in my new place within five minutes.

I’m staying in another two bedroom flat with the bedrooms and a bath upstairs and a have half bath downstairs. The whole place has been updated and all the appliances are new. And it had a dishwasher. I managed to get unpacked, for the most part, in about an hour and also during this time went to a nearby grocery to buy what I’ll need for my stay. As I was putting the groceries away a cat came to the back door that leads to the patio. The cat had a collar so it must be a neighbor’s cat. I was tempted to invite the kitty in.

Tried to take a nap but after 10 minutes I realized I wasn’t that tired. So I’m writing today’s travel blog and will prepare dinner when I’m finished writing. Will watch the next Harry Potter movie (#4) after dinner.

I’ll probably walk around Waterford tomorrow and most likely visit the Waterford factory later in the day. My helicopter tour will be on Sunday.

Thursday, 29 August 2019

#20 Popes Hill, Popes Road (Cork, Ireland)

Today I joined a bus tour and we visited Blarney Castle, which is not too far away from Cork. Again I woke up early in order to be out the door by 8:45. I’ve been making scrambled eggs and toast each morning while I’ve been in Cork and also a bowl of oatmeal that I eat sometime during the night. I must really like it here because I’ve been waking up less often and my wake times are only 10 – 15 minutes. There have been times when I’m awake from one to two hours during the night.

We left the departure point in Cork on time and were at the Blarney Castle in less than 30 minutes. I noticed that my legs were sore as we walked to the castle entrance, but perhaps it was because I sat so much yesterday during the long bus trip to the Ring of Kerry.

The castle, which is one of Ireland’s most visited sites, is set in the middle of beautiful gardens. I think the gardens were designed so visitors can take great pictures of the castle from most any angle. The castle design is more of a tower type of castle and not one with thick outer walls and a moat.

Our driver said there were over 100 steps up to the top where the Blarney Stone is located. Also there were warning signs that cautioned visitors that the steps are uneven and it might be difficult for some to climb. Though I knew that I wasn’t planning to be kiss the stone I still wanted to make the climb, which turned out easier than expected. It took probably less than 15 minutes to reach the top where the stone is located.

Each person who kisses the stone gets their picture taken and a donation of a couple of Euro is requested. One guy takes your money and operates the camera and another helps you get into position, which involves laying on your back with your head extended so you’re in a position to kiss the stone.

I just kept walking when it was my turn and was more interested in looking out at the view from the top of the castle. There really isn’t much time to admire the view since any delay would interrupt the flow of people through the castle. Was easy to get down to the bottom and then you’re free to walk around the gardens. I took a detour and had a cup of tea and a scone at a nearby cafe.

By the time I had my tea and scone, then walked through some of the gardens it was time to board the bus again. I did have time to go through a shop that was near to where the bus was parked. It proudly stated that it was the largest Irish shop in Ireland. And when I went inside I discovered that it probably was the largest. Three floors of merchandise. It was a little overwhelming and I left after 10 minutes.

We were now on our way to Cobh (pronounced “Cove”) which is the harbor just south of Cork. The ride there took over 45 minutes and once there were were given nearly two hours to explore the town and the sites. It was about 1:00 so I decided to eat lunch. I ordered a bowl of Irish beef stew for lunch and enjoyed every bite.

In the same building was an exhibit of the history of Cobh. Cobh was the primary exit point for most people who emigrated to the U.S. and Canada and also the last port where the Titanic stopped before beginning its voyage across the Atlantic. Also, many survivors of the Lusitania, which sunk nearby, were brought in through Cobh.

After lunch I purchased a ticket to see the Cobh history exhibit. One part of the exhibit was a genealogy service for people who wished to know more about an Irish ancestor. I waited my turn and asked about an Irish ancestor that arrived in the U.S. in 1798. When I showed the guy who was providing the service the date when my ancestor traveled, and that he was born in Antrim, he quickly dismissed me and said that my ancestor was probably a Scotch-Irish and Protestant. (Antrim is a county in Northern Ireland.) He quickly referred me to a resource in Belfast. I guess the Catholic immigration and records are kept separate from the Protestant records. I was a little shocked at first but knowing what I’ve learned over the past couple of weeks it makes sense.

After our visit to Cobh we were give a choice to tour the Jameson Irish Whiskey plant, the Wildlife Park or to be dropped off at our departure point in Cork. It was a little after 3:00 and I was tired and was okay with skipping the Jameson tour and Wildlife Park.

Think I need a break from bus tours. When I returned to the flat it wasn’t more than 15 minutes before I took a nap. I was exhausted. Later I’ll make dinner and watch another Harry Potter movie.

Tomorrow I move to Waterford but don’t have to leave until just before noon. Waterford in only a couple of hours away and the place where I’m staying has received excellent Airbnb reviews. Of course the highlight of my visit will be to see the place where the Waterford glass is made. I’m looking forward to another excellent night of sleep.

Wednesday, 28 August 2019

#20 Popes Hill, Popes Road (Cork, Ireland)

Was up at 6:00 this morning to get ready for my all-day tour of the Ring of Kerry. I was to meet the tour bus down by the river at 8:15 and knew it takes over 20 minutes to walk down there. As it turned out I got down there in plenty of time.

Our first stop was Killarney, a place that I’d already visited. I purchased a tea and a scone and sat in a park and enjoyed the nice morning weather. I took a quick walk into the shopping area of the city and found a barbershop. I really needed a haircut.

When I got back to the bus I started talking to a guy who was outside the bus waiting for another group of passengers to join our tour. While we were waiting we talked and I learned that he and his wife were travelers too. Though they return back to the U.S. often, rest up, then travel again. I spoke to him and his wife at the next stop and we then had lunch together later on. They are both retired teachers and we shared many similar interests.

As for the tour, we saw so much as we traveled down the road. Our bus driver was an endless source of information and we enjoyed his honest comments and keen sense of humor. We were let off the bus at regular intervals to take pictures and take in the fresh air. The views were amazing. The weather was partly sunny with very little wind.

And so it went for the rest of the day. Ride, stop, get out of the bus, take pictures, get back on the bus. Repeat. The landscape changed as we drove along which was interesting. We saw the highest mountain (hill) in Ireland, grand vistas, rivers, the Atlantic, mountain passes, etc.

We ended the tour at Torc Waterfall, just outside of Killarney, that I visited on Sunday. Joe and Marilyn walked up to the waterfall and I waited by the bus. I was getting tired by this point. We made a quick stop in Killarney and then began our return to Cork.

I’m glad I did the tour today. It was exhausting but enjoyable. Meeting new people was an extra bonus. Tomorrow I’m visiting Blarney Castle and Cork’s harbor but that tour doesn’t begin until 9:15, an hour later than today’s tour. It will be a half day tour since both of the main attractions are not far from Cork.

I’ll watch another Harry Potter movie tonight. What a great way to spend a relaxing evening.

Tuesday, 27 August 2019

#20 Popes Hill, Popes Road (Cork, Ireland)

I couldn’t believe how long I slept last night. Was briefly up a couple of times during the night and finally got out of bed for good at 10:00. The bed was very comfortable and this place is absolutely quiet since I’m not near the city center.

As I was looking for something to do today I saw that a town, Kinsale, near the ocean was about an hour away by bus. I’m also planning to see Blarney Castle and the Cork Harbor (Cobh) tomorrow and I’ll stop by the tour office on my way to the bus station to make arrangements.

Since the city center of Cork is downhill from where I’m staying it was an easy walk to first the tour office and then to the bus station. No more than 30 minutes.

I took the 1:05 p.m. bus from Cork and arrived in Kinsale at around 2:15. Saw more of the Irish countryside along the way and passed through a few small town as well. There was a castle to see in Kinsale but I decided just to walk around the harbor and through the town for the next couple of hours and take a few pictures.

At 4:00 the return bus showed up and I hopped aboard. I had purchased another power bank while in Kinsale that has more capacity. I’ve been having to conserve power on my phone while on longer tours. The tour to the Ring of Kerry will be 10 hours and not sure if my phone will last that long. This way I will be confident that I have enough power to last the whole day. My smaller power bank is good for shorter trips and is much smaller.

I tried to nap when I got back to the flat but I guess I wasn’t tired enough to sleep. Tonight I’ll make a quick meal and watch the next Harry Potter movie. Was very relaxing to watch something familiar last night and look forward to another relaxing evening.

Monday, 26 August 2019

#703 Riverpoint, Lower Mallow Street (Limerick, Ireland)

I’m leaving my 4th stop in Ireland today and traveling to stop #5, Cork. I’m going to miss my views from this flat. I get a little homesick for my former condo in Portland where I enjoyed a panorama of Portland’s west hills for nearly 10 years. My next flat in Cork will be on a hill but I don’t expect much of a view.

I did a count yesterday of the number of Airbnb flats I’ve rented: 60 places over the last 3+ years, which works out to about 20 per year and two per month. Looking at it that way it doesn’t seem so much I guess. Still, going through the same routine every time I leave a place I go through basically the same process. The same is true when I enter a flat for the first time as well. Hotels are by far much easier.

My efforts to leave a place in good condition has been noticed by my hosts and I often receive excellent reviews, like the one recently posted by Madeline and John, my hosts in Sligo: “Philip was a wonderful guest. He was kind and very friendly. Philip is great company and a great communicator. He left the house in immaculate condition. I would highly recommend Philip as a guest and I hope we have the pleasure of Philip’s company again sometime in the future.”

After I was sure that I had everything packed I left the flat at about the time I expected to leave (11:30 am). On the way out of the building I dropped off my garbage in the bins that were located in the parking garage. Glad I used something to keep the door open while I dropped of the trash, the door locks from the inside if closed and I would have had no way to get to my suitcase which was on the other side.

I phoned for a taxi and waited outside the building for the car to arrive. I was dropped off at the bus depot and had about 30 minutes before my bus to Cork would arrive. I used the time to grab a snack for the bus and to withdraw money from a nearby ATM.

Along the way to Cork I sat next to two young people who I think were drama students from what I could hear of their conversation. They talked pretty much the whole way to Cork with the young man doing most of the talking and the young woman politely listening. Meanwhile I was playing my usual game of Hearts on my phone and doing travel research as well. I also ate s scone that I picked up at the bus depot. The scone came with a tab of butter and a small jar of strawberry jam. (I posted a picture on Instagram.)

When I got off the bus in Cork I made a beeline to the men’s room. Even though there was a small restroom on the bus, I’ll only use it in case of an emergency. Next was to find a grocery store before hailing a taxi. Google said there was one about 250 meters away and so I wheeled my suitcase in that direction. On the way I saw a tour office that I remember receiving a good recommendation so I decided to walk over there first before grocery shopping.

The fellow behind the counter was very helpful and we ended up talking about education and learned he was a teacher during the school year. We got into quite a discussion about school funding and was interested on how it works in the U.S. Eventually I decided on a tour to the Ring of Kerry for Wednesday. We said our goodbyes and I walked to the nearby grocery.

At the store I found that you had to pay for a shopping cart. It cost one Euro to rent a trolley (shopping cart). I had my suitcase and another bag that I was also carrying (mostly leftover food from my last stop). I eventually found everything I needed (from a prepared list I had on my phone) and after checking out it was now time to hail a taxi.

Fortunately there was a taxi rank outside the store and I made arrangements with the driver in the lead car to take me to the Airbnb flat. He was very chatty and I enjoyed my ride up (steep hill) to my Cork home. I just gave him the post code and he was able to find the building where my flat was located. (The U.K. and Ireland have post codes that are so detailed that you really don’t need a street address. My post code here is: T23 XY32.)

Once through the door I started my routine for getting settled in. First I read any instructions from the host, look around the place, look in the refrigerator, check out the bathroom (especially to see how the shower works since it can vary significantly from place to place), and then put away any food that needs to go in the refrigerator. Next I get my phone and laptop hooked up to the flat’s wifi and look for a place to open my suitcase. Today I opened up a beer and ate the sandwich I purchased at the Limerick bus depot. Next was to take a nap.

After I finish with this blog post I plan to continue watching Harry Potter. I’m planning to watch all of the Harry Potter films over the next week or so. At some point I’ll fix something for dinner since I ate a late lunch.

Tomorrow I’ll walk down the hill into Cork and tour some of the sites in the city. Maybe I’ll find a driver who will take me around. I will be in Cork for four nights so I’ll have an extra day for another excursion somewhere. Most likely Blarney Castle. (I have no plans on kissing the stone.)

Sunday, 25 August 2019

#703 Riverpoint, Lower Mallow Street (Limerick, Ireland)

Was up fairly early in order to catch the bus to Killarney. I was going to call a taxi to take me to the bus depot but decided to walk instead. Seemed like a great morning for a walk. I was at the station in plenty of time to catch the 10:35 bus.

It was a two-hour ride to Killarney and I enjoyed watching the scenery as we made our way south. By the time I reached Killarney I still hadn’t decided on what I wanted to see. The big draw to this place is it’s location to the Ring of Kerry. (I’ll take a Ring of Kerry tour from Cork in a few days.) A friend suggested visiting Muckross House and so that became the first place to visit.

I thought I had the right directions to catch a bus that would take me there but it turns out Google was wrong. Not only that, the locals who I asked said there isn’t public transportation to Muckross House. It turned out getting there was my first big adventure for the day. I even took a horse and carriage to a hotel that (allegedly) was a stop on the bus route. Wrong again. I ended up taking a taxi from the hotel to Muckross House. I did have a good conversation with the hotel’s concierge while waiting for the taxi. His sister and brother-in-law lived in Seattle for number of years before moving back to Ireland.

The taxi driver suggested that he drop me off at the Torc Waterfall that is on the Muckross House estate and said I could walk to the house once I visited the falls. That sounded like a great idea so that he where we dropped me off.

It was only 200 meters up to the falls and the trail took me through moss-covered trees along a small river. It was then I realized that I haven’t really on a nature walk in a very long time. I’ve been hanging out in cities for the most part. It was an excellent change of pace as I walked up to the falls. When I got there I took a few pictures and then walked back down the hill. Now to walk to the house.

I started walking along a path to the house and then tried to figure out how far away the house actually was and discovered that it was more than I wanted to walk in the time I have remaining before the 4:00 bus. I saw more horse and carriages parked nearby and asked if one of them could take me to the house. I ended up taking a two-wheeled cart up to the house but had a great chat with the young driver during the ride.

I didn’t go inside the house but walked around it instead. Queen Victoria’s stay at the house was the only event historical to the location. This would be a great place to visit if you had a free afternoon but I felt time constrained.

I called a taxi to take me back to Killarney. Once I got into the taxi I mentioned to the driver that I wanted to take the 4:00 bus back to Limerick and he suggested that since I had extra time that I visit the Friary that is located near to the bus station. He dropped me off there and I went inside. A beautiful church! I sat down in one of the pews and rested. I thought it was the perfect place to be.

I had time to get a bite to eat before the bus arrived and found a Costa Coffee where I bought a sandwich and a bottle of water. I concluded that I didn’t see many sites but enjoyed meeting new people, visiting a few new locations and had two rides in a horse-drawn carriage.

The bus ride back to Limerick was uneventful but I enjoyed looking at the sites as we rode along. I walked back to the flat from the bus station. Thought I might take a taxi but the sun was out and I felt like going for a walk. I’m realizing that all of the pain I had walking is finally gone.

I was very ready for a nap soon after I walked in the door. I had bought another sandwich at the Limerick station which I ate for dinner. After I finish writing this post I’ll watch a little TV and hopefully be in bed early. Tomorrow I’m leaving for Cork. Guess I should figure out which bus to take.

Saturday, 24 August 2019

#703 Riverpoint, Lower Mallow Street (Limerick, Ireland)

I was planning to sleep in a little longer but kept hearing a loud voice coming from outside. It took me a few moments to figure out that there was a rowing competition happening out on the river this morning and an announcer was providing information about who was competing.

I took my time getting ready this morning and, as predicted, I probably spent too much time looking at the view out the windows. It was partly sunny so many people were walking along the river and enjoying the morning. I managed to leave the flat around 2:00 p.m. and took my place by the river with everyone else.

My first stop will the King John’s Castle, that can be easily seen from the flat, and then to St. Mary’s Cathedral. If there is time I’ll stop by a nearby Tesco’s and buy more oatmeal.

I suppose I could have reached King John’s Castle in 15 minutes but I took my time and stopped at several places to enjoy the people out for a walk. I sat across from a wedding that had just finished and looked at the people talking in front of the church. From there I walked over the bridge to the castle that is located on an island in the middle of the river. River Shannon is about the same width as the Willamette.

The introductory exhibit in the castle was very detailed and contained a lot of information and history. It has been around since the 13th century and a lot has happened between then and now. So much detail and also a lot of battles over the years. Was sad reading about the number of people killed over the years. The English during this time period were very brutal to the people of Limerick, and to the rest of Ireland as well.

After wandering around the exhibit for nearly a half an hour I went outside to see the castle from the inside the walls. It is quite a large castle but I didn’t climb up to the walls. I was okay with being on the ground. There were several exhibits that showed how people lived in the castle when it was being actively used. When I felt I’d seen enough I left and started to walk towards St. Mary’s.

On the way to St. Mary’s I passed a bakery and stopped in for a few minutes. I successfully left without buying anything. Though I was tempted. So many treats to look at.

St. Mary’s is actually older than the castle and has been added to over the years, but still looks very old inside and out. I would have liked to have stayed longer but the staff were ready to close for the day and I was their last guest.

I saw that a large Tesco was nearby, and was on the way back to the flat, so I walked over to see if I can find my oats. I wasn’t used to being is such a large grocery store, but I found what I was looking for and also a package of English muffins. (Perhaps my reward for not buying a treat at the bakery earlier.) Was thinking that maybe stores in Ireland don’t often carry English muffins because of the word “English”, knowing how they were treated years ago.

When I returned to the flat I tried to sleep but couldn’t, which is just as well because I didn’t sleep well last night. After taking care of correspondence, doing another load of wash, taking a shower, and writing this blog I’m ready for dinner. And now it is nearly 9:00. (I forgot to add, and also sending in money to top up the power in the flat. I’ve heard about this, but this is my first experience with an Airbnb flat where the guests have to pay for the power. Easy to do, just log into the website, enter in the account number, the amount you wish to pay and your card information. Then enter the system code into the box on the wall once your payment has been accepted.)

Hope I can get a good sleep tonight. I’m taking the bus to Killarney tomorrow and found I function better when I have a good sleep the night before.

Friday, 23 August 2019

9 New Dock Street (Galway, Ireland)

Yesterday I took a day tour to the Cliffs of Moher. I met the tour group at a nearby bus station and we left Galway at 10:00 a.m. The bus driver, who is also our tour guide, kept us informed and entertained as we drove to the Cliffs. We made several stops along the way visiting historical sites and points of interest. I was more interested in hearing about Irish history. Had a very filling lunch in one of the small towns that we passed through. I ordered a Guinness beef stew for lunch and boy was I full when I finished. And it wasn’t really a large portion.

As we approached the cliffs we learned that it had been fogged in up to 30 minutes prior. Not that is was exceptionally clear and sunny but at least we’ll get a good look at the cliffs. The visitor center is built into the hillside and it was a short hike up to the cliffs. You have a choice of going to the left or the right, depending on which view you want to see. The route to the right looked easier and I took that route.

Eventually I got up to a point where I could see a long view of the cliffs. I can say there is nothing like them. So tall and majestic. I can see why this site is so popular. Our guide said that 6 million people visit annually, making it one of the top attractions in Ireland. I walked around for about 45 minutes taking pictures from various locations before walking back down the hill. I wanted to see a presentation in the visitor center about the cliffs before getting back on the bus.

We made one stop on the way back to Galway. It was next to the ocean and rather than sand, the approach to the ocean was ancient flat rock that had been worn over the last million or so years. Very unusual. We only stayed for 10 minutes then it was back on the bus.

I was exhausted when we got off the bus. (Forgot to mention the size of the tour group was about 45 people.) I knew I was going to be too tired to cook so I picked up a pizza along the way back to the flat. By the time I answered email and messages I was ready for bed, though I did watch an episode of my sci-fi program.

Today I got up fairly early to clean and pack before leaving for Limerick. I pretty much finished at 11:00 a.m. and was out the door. I wheeled my suitcase to the bus depot to wait for the bus to Limerick. Got a bit confused when I saw a monitor say that the next bus was at 1:45 p.m. rather than 12:00. When I asked I was told it was the monitor for the train. The bus and train station share the same building. Oops!

Is was only a 90 minute bus ride to Limerick and had enough time at the station in Limerick to have a bite to eat before meeting the housekeeper of the Airbnb flat who would give me the tour. I again wheeled my suitcase for nearly 20 minutes to get to the building to meet her. To be honest, I did get a bit turned around which caused me to be late.

What a great view I have! A wide view of River Shannon out the window and of Limerick. Think I’ll like it here. I went shopping after I got settled. At the local SPAR store were I went I saw they didn’t have any beer. The guy at the counter said that they have another store nearby and he could give me a lift since he was headed over there. I said sure and thanked him. I found out he owned both stores. We had a great talk during the short drive and picked up my beer and headed back to my flat-in-the-sky.

Not sure what I’m doing tomorrow. Hope I don’t spend my time staring out the windows at the view.

Wednesday, 21 August 2019

9 New Dock Street (Galway, Ireland)

So quickly I get behind posting to this travel blog. Here I am finishing up my third day in Galway and I haven’t written about how I got here.

On Monday the 19th I was up early as usual and got ready to leave Sligo. I knew that Madeline would be here at 11:00 and take me to the bus depot. For a large place, surprisingly it didn’t take me long to put everything in order and get packed. I was ready at 11:00 and went outside to wait for Madeline. On our way to the bus depot I mentioned again how much I appreciated their hospitality and enjoyed my stay at their beautiful home. I was thinking about how to word my Airbnb that review, that I’ll write later, to convey my appreciation.

While waiting for the bus I happened to sit next to two interesting local characters, one after the other. The first was not in the best of health and felt sorry for him as I could see that he was very uncomfortable sitting on the bench while waiting for his bus. Somehow he started talking about being in service and was part of a NATO unit stationed somewhere in Africa. His bus came and off he went. The next gentleman was a retired plumber and he too was not in good shape, but was interested to know what I thought about Ireland. We talked for a bit before it was my turn to get on the bus. Nice to have someone to talk with while I waited.

I put my suitcase in the hold under the bus and made my way to a seat on the bus. Another journey of nearly three hours lay ahead and I sat back and kept myself occupied while we drove through the Irish countryside. We never got on a wide two-lane highway or freeway the whole way. Just drove on a good country road that was wide enough for two cars to pass, but just barely.

The bus driver didn’t provide us with the smoothest ride. It was a bit jerky as he put on the foot brake. My plastic sack of food items that I’m taking with me to my next Airbnb flat fell over and most of the items scattered on the floor beneath me and into the people sitting behind me. I got everything gathered up except for one lone potato that I could see on the floor several seats ahead of me. I made sure that the bag was securely in place during the rest of the trip.

Eventually we arrived in Galway and into the depot. The first thing I did was to find a restroom. I wasn’t about to use the one on the bus. Once finished with that task I was on my way to my Galway flat, which was about a ten minute walk from the depot. Thankfully the sidewalks were even and smooth for the most part so no need for a taxi.

As I approached the location of the apartment building I had a bit of trouble finding it. None of the streets were marked but I had a picture of the exterior from a picture in the Airbnb listing. I quickly saw it as I looked down the street. It was easy getting through the security gate and into the flat using the instructions I was given. The flat was on the first floor which is one level above the ground floor. The steps weren’t too steep and I easy got everything through the front door and into the flat.

As I looked around the flat it looked okay but the instructions were not well written. Also noticed that the street outside was somewhat busy but I have ear plugs just in case it gets noisy. It is a two bedroom flat and there was a full queen-sized bed in the room that I’m using for my bedroom. The bed in the other room I’ll use to open my suitcase and I’ll take out what I need from there. I did this in the last two flats. I only fully unpack when I plan to stay five days or longer.

It was a short walk to the nearest store which was a SPAR store. Not a full service kind of store but it had enough variety to suit my needs for the next few days. When I got the groceries back to the flat I pushed aside the opened items in the refrigerator and made room for the items I bought. The freezer was nearly unusable because it hadn’t been defrosted in perhaps a year from the looks of it. I threw out the frozen fruit popsicles from a previous guest to make room for my frozen green peas.

Just about when I finished putting away the groceries I received a call from the Airbnb host to check in on me. I let her know that I got in just fine and she said I could make use of any of the food items that were there. I mentioned that I don’t eat anything that has already been opened, but thanked her anyway.

I was ready for a nap and found the bed to be very comfortable. As I fell asleep I thought about the lone potato that was probably still rolling around on the bus. I’m sure the person who cleans out the bus later will wonder about the person who lost their potato.

That evening I was trying to plan when I’ll visit the Cliffs of Moher while in Galway and also to plan what I’ll see tomorrow. Then tried to find out how to work the TV based on the written instructions from the Airbnb host. I gave up and hooked up my laptop to the TV and watched a series that I started to watch in Derry. For dinner I fixed a hamburger steak with cheese on the top, mashed potatoes and green peas. I was in bed by 11:00.

On Tuesday the 20th I hung around the flat and waited for the rain to let up. Around 1:30 I noticed the sun was trying to come out so I knew it was time to explore a little of Galway. I found a tour company that was highly recommended and made that my first stop.

The tour company was a 10 minute walk away and after talking with the guy working at the front desk I decided to take their tour on Thursday. Tomorrow’s weather doesn’t look encouraging. From there I walked around the nearby Eyre Square (very large town square) then through the main tourist shopping street which was crowded with people enjoying their summer holiday.

I continued walking until I came to a bridge that crossed the River Corrib (one of the shortest rivers in Europe) that flows through the city. The river had a good volume of water that moved quickly along as it passed by where I was standing. No shortage of water in Galway this summer. In the area was a large carved rock with a medallion on top. I was surprised to see that the medallion mentioned Seattle, Washington. A Google search told me that Galway is a sister city of Seattle. Who knew? I took a picture that I might post to Instagram.

I continued my walk to the docks that served the city. Galway is known to be a major shipping center. They call the area The Docks and I’m staying a few blocks away. This was the old harbor and now used for recreation and tourists and I image the commercial port was now several miles away.

I had a good walk today and looked forward to returning to the flat to put my feet up and take a nap, which I did. I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it here but I’m getting more comfortable as I settle in. In the evening I finally booked my flight to Dubai. Yes, I’m going to Dubai! I’m going to follow through with my plan to first visit Dubai, then go to India for a couple of weeks (maybe visit Nepal too), return to United Arab Emirates and stay in Abu Dabi before returning to Europe. I’m excited!

Today I woke to a very wet Galway. Not occasional sprinkles but solid rain. Again I took my time getting ready to venture into the streets, but I eventually put on my waterproof boots and parka and off I went. Due to the weather I think if I can make it to the Galway Cathedral I’ll be happy.

This is my first day of solid rain while in Ireland. Mostly the rain has been a quick shower here and there, but today it was just rain. Definitely fewer tourists walking around, but there were a few hardy travelers taking their chances. (They were probably from the Pacific Northwest.)

The Galway Cathedral is a little over 50 years old. Very large but somewhat traditional in design. I managed to take a picture of the building but only from beneath a tree from a point across the river. Once inside I had a chance to see a video that told of how the Cathedral was built and the features inside. Was a very comfortable building and enjoyed walking around before returning to the outdoors.

I stopped at a store along the way back to the flat and bought a few items to eat. Once I got back to the flat I took a nap. I’ll have dinner once I publish this travel blog entry then continue to watch my series (sci-fi of course) then get to bed early. Tomorrow I’m (hopefully) visiting the Cliffs of Moher, it the tour isn’t cancel because of high winds. It might be wet, but I’ll make the trip. If cancelled I can visit the cliffs from my Limerick, my next Ireland stop.