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Being in Ireland: Day 5

Overview

  • Got up and packed (as we would be staying in Galway this evening)
  • Ate breakfast
  • Departed for the flying boat museum
  • Passed through some towns and learned more about Ireland, like the Rose of Tralee
  • Learned about Irish sports
  • Had a tour at the flying boat museum
  • Got a lesson in how to make the perfect Irish Coffee.
  • The lesson was photographed by the Irish Independent. We should be in the paper.
  • Ate a fresh made scone with fresh cream
  • Left for Bunratty for lunch
  • Arrived at Bunratty, was given slightly over a hour. At lunch, took pics of castle
  • Did a wee bit of shopping
  • Left for the Cliffs of Moher
  • Slowed for pics of things along the way, but didn’t stop
  • Arrived and visited the Cliffs of Moher. Was given an hour.
  • Left the Cliffs, headed for Galway. Took the scenic route along Blackwood Drive.
  • Had a couple quick scenic shot stops.
  • Had my “audience participation” time. Sang a couple bars of General Taylor by GBS
  • Arrived at the hotel in Galway at 5:30-ish. Was given till 7 to rest/etc.
  • Ate dinner at 7
  • Retired to my room to rest and write

Detail

I guess I haven’t mentioned much yet about how I’ve slept during this trip. I guess I haven’t mentioned it because there hasn’t really been any problem with it. I think that’s mainly due to my being so incredibly tired by the time I crawl into bed each night. The days are very full, and once I’m done writing in my journal I’m generally rather exhausted. I’ve also been blessed with relatively quiet rooms, unlike the rest of my family. Someone has complained each night about the noise. For me, I’ve rarely heard anything at all, and it’s taken me no more than 10-15 minutes each night to fall asleep, if that. I’m actually mildly worried that as I catch up with my sleep I’ll start having troubles sleeping again. :)

I packed my things and took a shower and got ready. That second part was rather hampered by a lack of hot water (the water was just warm-ish) and the fact that the shower head wouldn’t stay in a angled position. If you tried to angle it up, it just fell right back down, so it was just pointed nearly straight down the whole time. After the last hotel, this one seemed a bit second-rate. Other than the free wi-fi in the rooms and better shopping location, I’m not going to be that sorry to move on to the next hotel.

Breakfast was the usual buffet. Then we headed out on our way to the Foynes Flying Boat Museum. On the way we passed through a couple towns, and Pat filled us in on more aspects of life in Ireland. He told us about the Rose of Tralee, a legend, song, and beauty competition. He said that he actually got to drive the girls in the competition around to the various locations, but he added quickly that it definitely wasn’t a dream job. The girls were apparently nice when the cameras were clicking and rolling, but they turned into biting nasty creatures towards each other when the cameras were off. Reminds me of America’s Next Top Model. :)

Pat also talked about sports in Ireland. As it turns out, all sports are classified as amateur, which means that none of the players are actually paid anything. All of the players play simply for the pride and honor of their team and city/village/county. Also, after the game is over the teams swap jerseys and shake hands, so what happened on the field really stays on the field. After all the whining, bitching, and moaning of American players trying to get another million dollars tacked onto a already overblown salary, I can really get behind how Ireland does sports.

Then Pat briefly explained how driver’s licenses work in Ireland. What I mainly noted was the point system. Any negative action you do (like speeding) adds points onto your license. Get enough points, and your license is suspended for a year. If you get points due to drunk driving, it’s three years. Also, your license can be suspended for shorter periods of time for first or second offenses, and if you are caught driving with a suspended license it means jail time.

They really take speeding and stuff seriously over here. I can really see why the guys on Top Gear are pretty careful about it. There are plenty of speed traps, unmarked police (Garda) cars, and plain clothes policemen. Pat has indicated that they will get you. People think it’s tough in the States, but in Ireland I think I would go the speed limit pretty much all of the time, and it seems like most people do.

We made it around 10:30-ish to the Flying Boat Museum, which is a museum dedicated to those planes in a certain era that used water for landing and take off (mainly around the time transatlantic flights were being developed and the kinks being worked out). The museum itself was decently interesting. Learning about the planes and stuff kept my attention, but it didn’t really fascinate me. The A/V portion of this tour was more interesting than the last film we sat through, I’ll give it that (I stayed awake), and also it was interesting to walk through one of the actual planes.

What I enjoyed the most was the demonstration of how to make a perfect Irish Coffee. It turns out that Irish Coffee was invented right where the museum stands. A chef, faced with with a flight of people half freezing to death because the flight had tried to go to New York and turned around halfway due to bad weather, invented the drink on the spot because he thought a bit of whiskey in a sweetened coffee would help “warm them up”. It did, and the drink became a hit. They still teach the original method of making it today.

The museum was working with the Irish Independent, a national newspaper, to get some exposure for the museum, and the demonstration was what specifically was being photographed/covered. One of the tour members was pre-selected to participate in the actual demo, and all of us were sitting in the group picture that should be in the papers tomorrow. Rather cool! I also got to get a free tasting of a “true” Irish Coffee, and it was quite good. :)

Once the tour was over we did have time to walk around and have a Irish Coffee or whatever if we liked. Knowing I couldn’t have the coffee (caffeine), I went with a warmed scone with fresh cream on top. Mmmmmm. Utterly delicious.

After that, we headed to Bunratty for lunch and a brief look at the castle. This time what was made clear was that while we could get a look at the castle from the outside, we definitely would not have time to look at the castle from the inside. Apparently the full tour of the castle takes around 4-5 hours, so we’d have to dedicate the rest of the day just that. Not very likely considering how much we still needed to do and see.

When we arrived at Bunratty, Pat gave us a hour for lunch/shopping/etc. On his recommendation I headed over to The Creamery Bar for a spot of lunch. As mentioned in my eating notes for today, I had some fish and chips that were positively excellent. I might have eaten at Durty Nellie’s, a bar that’s been around since the 1600’s, but they didn’t open in time. After that I went and snapped some photos of the castle from a few angles, and then shopped some more. It was nice to see that they had a display up with Bunratty mead for tasting. :)  The hour passed quickly, and then it was back on the bus.

Now, as I have explained before, if you are late, you have to strip or sing. Well, Dewayne, with Pat’s willing help, actually kept Liz distracted for long enough so that she would be both late and the last one. Pat really helped out, getting Liz to snap photos of him and Dewayne, just him, chatting with her and telling her to wait and he’ll be right back after he grabbed something, etc. So now Liz had to strip or sing. Thank God she chose the latter. Liz decided to try and get revenge by choosing as he song “99 Bottles of Beer On The Wall”. Luckily, Pat cut her off at 96. After coaxing a lyric of a real song out of her (“Mary Had a Little Lamb”), she was sent back to her seat.

We were then well on our way to the Cliffs of Moher. We took a scenic route, but while we slowed down on occasion we never stopped. We arrived at the Cliffs and Oh. My. God. Once again, luck had smiled on us. What had started out as a rainy day cleared up, and the weather was perfect. It was absolutely beautiful. I really, really, really hope that at least a few of my pictures turn out well, for the view was simply stunning. We had been given about an hour to look, which I thought at first was more than necessary, but as it turns out it does take a bit to walk all the way up the path and stairs to get the view. I also ended up paying €2 to climb a small tower that is there in order to get even more shots.

Once we were done, we left the Cliffs and headed towards Galway along the scenic route, the Blackwood Drive. We saw some thatched roofs, passed by a couple of ruins of castles and cathedrals, and stopped a couple more times for scenic views.

It was during this time that it became my and Mom’s turn to take part in “audience participation”. The first two rows of the bus (we rotate seats daily) get handed a microphone, everybody has to introduce themselves, and one person has to sing. From looking around yesterday, I could guess that I was going to be in the front two rows. And I guessed none of the others were singers, so I’d have a decent chance of getting stuck with it. Last night, I planned ahead just a little: I would at least have a song ready that I could sing. What came to mind was “General Taylor” by Great Big Sea. So, yep, on the bus I was voted to be the singer. Technically mom had sung “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow” at Pat, but I knew that wouldn’t count by Pat’s rules. So I sung the first verse and chorus of “General Taylor”, and it was well received. I got what sounded like genuine applause, and people (not just mom) told me later that I had sung well. Whew. :)

We arrived in Galway at the hotel around 5:30. We were given until 7:00 to rest and do what we liked, and then we went down for dinner. This time dinner was a true table d’hôte meal, with three courses and a few choices in each course. See my eating notes for what I thought about the food.

While this hotel is nice overall, and I have a huge room and bed (king), there is no wi-fi, not even paid wi-fi. And wired Internet, via room or the business center? €3.95 per half hour, or €16.90 a day. I’m sorry, but that is just too expensive. My only other major complaint about the hotel is that it is in the edge of town. Technically it is only about €6-7 to hire a cab, but I would have preferred somewhere closer to the center of town, somewhere in nice walking distance. True, it is only a 20 minute walk, but when you only get an hour and a half of total free time, the walk both ways eats a chunk out of it.

Now to relax, and bed…..

Or so I thought. Not long after I’d arrived, I had contacted the front desk, complaining that my air conditioning didn’t seem to be working. I had it set for 20 degrees (Celsius; about 68 Fahrenheit), and it definitely wasn’t 20. When I called, they said the older systems sometimes need reset, and she asked me if if I wouldn’t mind opening the window and turning off the air for a hour, which I did. When I turned the air back on it seemed colder, but as I was getting ready for bed I knew it couldn’t be the proper temp in my room. I was laying on the bed without the covers and it still felt warm in the room. I decided to leave the room and go down to the front desk and ask them about it again.

It was definitely cooler in the public areas, so I was pretty sure something was wrong. There was a different person at the desk this time, and after he heard my problem he told me that he’d follow me back up to check it out himself. Before we went up he made sure to find another open room, just in case. When we got to the room we walked in and it was clearly much warmer in there, and there was a nasty air-conditioner-not-working smell I hadn’t noticed before. The front desk guy stepped in, immediately declared that it was definitely not 20 in the room, and showed me down the hall to a different room. He offered to let me keep my stuff in the old room until morning (it being midnight by this time), but I went ahead and transferred my stuff to the new room.

With that problem fixed, I then went to bed.