Land of the Mad Lupin Lovers

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Ireland part 5
Dorian
linda_lupos

Wednesday July 15
I had nothing much exciting planned for today, so I allowed myself to sleep in until 10. My roommates were all up, except my Welsh roommate, who’d been on a pubcrawl yesterday. (She turned out to be a huge Dr Who fan; seems almost a requisite when you’re from Wales!)
I picked up my laundry, neatly folded and everything, had a leisurely breakfast, then headed into Galway. First order of business was to get some new handkerchiefs since I’d used up the ones I’d brought for watercolour painting (I hadn’t exactly counted on catching a cold). I figured the train station would sell single packets, which turned out to be true. Galway’s train station is pretty small, smaller than the bus station – no wonder everybody recommended I take the bus rather than the train from Dublin to Galway.
I wandered around the shops, visiting a book store (of course), which was one of those old stores you could get lost in. I also visited an Augustine church, which was nice but a little too modern for my taste.






Relative peace and quiet on a Wednesday in Galway's High Street.

Along the way I also stumbled across an archaeological site, as one does in Ireland. Note the office building basically build around it!






I ended up at the city museum, where I had hoped to catch a hop-on hop-off bus to Galway Cathedral. After a long wait and still no bus, I headed into the museum to ask how the heck I could get there otherwise. Turned out it was about a ten-minute walk along the river Corrib, which flows through Galway. Quite a fun walk really, pretty peaceful with some lovely views. And admittedly I wouldn’t say no to living in some of these houses!







Galway Cathedral was quite beautiful – and surprisingly young! It was build in 1959-1965 so it was only fifty years old.






It was also super Irish: Irish saints everywhere, the floors were covered with Irish marble (the famous connumurumurble), and even a picture of John F Kennedy.






A very literal rose window.

I liked wandering around, but admittedly the more I looked the less I liked it. It was a little deceptive: it looked old, but the more you looked the more modern elements you could spot. I sort of missed the... weight of history genuinely old churches have.


Although they did have a knitting saint! The Virgin Mary, patron saint of "oh my Son, I dropped a stitch."


Where did yesterday's weather go? :( Oh right, Ireland.

After all that culture, I went back to High Street and Shop Street for some serious souvenir shopping. Among other stuff, I got a tin whistle plus two instruction books at a music store – they had pre-packaged tin whistle kits but of course I wanted to select my own. :p Apparently the flute I got was the same one used by thousands of Irish kids in their Irish music class every year, so I can’t go wrong there!
Some more shopping and a failed search for a famous bookstore later (turned out my guide book had been out of date; the book store had moved two years ago), I went back to the hostel. I settled down in the common room to update my travel journal. The common room was overrun by noisy Americans who had loud music playing – maybe I really am too old for hostels? :p
Once my journal was up to date again, I went back to my room and packed my suitcase, which took some creativity with my new purchases. I also booked a ticket for the ferry to Inishmore at the reception, plus a bike rental, since I was planning on biking around the island. Dinner was a very un-Irish but delicious pasta, and the rest of the evening was spend on my bed with The Hobbit.
Inishmore tomorrow!


Thursday July 16
A very abrupt wake-up because my water bottle fell over. Eek.
Sadly the weather had turned: from bright sun yesterday to cloudy and a light drizzle. Yech. Up at 8, tea and toast with Nutella for breakfast, then check-out at 9 since the bus to the ferry left at 9:35. The bus was already waiting, very convenient. I was the only one with a suitcase, apparently most people visit Inishmore on a day trip!
It took about 45 minutes through a rainy Connemara to reach the harbour, where the ferry was waiting. Beforehand, I’d figured ‘oh, a ferry, I’ve taken ferries, just large boats, nothing special, ferries are cool’.

The Inishmore ferry was a little smaller than I had expected.




Which was QUITE fun on the stormy waves of the Atlantic Ocean. The crew, of course, wasn’t fazed at all.

We arrived at Kilronan, the largest village on Inishmore, at about 11:45. My hostel (Kilronan Hostel, nice and easy) was on the top of a hill so easily found. Not so easily reached, though: the hill was pretty steep, and by now the rain and the wind had grown quite strong. Fortunately the proprietor of the hostel offered to carry my suitcase up the stairs to my room. The room was on the front of the hostel and on the first floor, overlooking the bay and the harbour. So far, I had one roommate – American for a change. :p





First order of business was to do some grocery shopping and get some cash money, since I couldn’t pay by card in the hostel. Inishmore, which is the largest of the three Aran islands but still not very big, has one supermarket, which houses the only cash dispenser on the island – can you tell it’s a small island? So I set out into the rain.




Errr... what?

Even though the ferry had been full of tourists, Kilronan itself was quiet. It was a ten minute walk up a somewhat steep hill to the supermarket, then down again to the hostel, which was itself up a hill again, so it was a nice workout for my ankles. Halfway on my way back, I stopped by a souvenir shop where I got a postcard and a book about Dun Aengus. I also ‘took shelter from the rain’ (as if I wasn’t already soaked) at the Aran Sweater Market, where they sold Aran sweaters (big surprise) and yarn. Lovely to see, with a small exhibit on the history of the Aran sweater, but so expensive!





The rain didn’t let up, in fact only got worse, so I quickly made my way back to the hostel. After paying for my stay, I settled down in the sitting room. It was in a separate building from the bedrooms, so I got rained on again. I spend a few cosy hours with some knitting, a book, a cup of tea, and the sound of the rain against the windows.
At around half past four I went back to my room again. I turned out to have acquired two additional roommates, two Swiss girls (not the same from Galway). The rain had finally stopped and it had even turned a little sunny, so I headed out with a couple of postcards, in search of the only post office on Inishmore, which was next to the supermarket. It was easily found – but also very much closed. And the sign next to the door was in Gaelic! I eventually dropped my postcards in the post box, hoping that they would get to their destinations (thankfully, they did).
I sauntered back to the harbour, enjoying the weather, which had by now turned out quite fine, if a little windy still. Thank goodness for my warm, wind-proof coat. It was around six by now, and the last boat off the island had left. I was stuck here now until tomorrow at least. :p You could feel a slight change of atmosphere, too, a little more quiet and relaxed.


No more boats. (Also, high tide; compare the previous picture of the quay.)

Dinner was a hamburger made of real Irish beef (nom), in a restaurant next to the hostel with a nice view of the harbour. I spent the rest of the evening relaxing in my room, hoping the weather would be better tomorrow, since I’d be exploring Inishmore.
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