Galway, Ireland, and Home Again!

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Old Galway City

June 14-16, 2017

Galway was our final stop along the Wild Atlantic Way, which starts in Kinsale, and actually ends long past Galway, winding 2500km all along the western coast of Ireland up to Derry.  We didn’t driven the whole thing of course – that would have required considerably more time than we had allowed, but we did manage to hit a number of segments, including the Ring of Beara and the Dingle Peninsula as well as plenty of straight highway road as well.

It was a 3 1/2 hour drive from Dingle to Galway, but we stopped just passed Limerick, for a visit to the famous Bunratty Castle.  We had looked online and decided to blow €20 to visit the castle and folk museum since we had some time to spare.  However, when we got there, we found out that you had to book online 24 hours in advance in order to get that price and we weren’t interested in spending €32 so instead, we walked around the town for awhile, ate a picnic lunch in the car, and then headed back to the highway to Galway.

We didn’t know what to expect of Galway but were pleasantly surprised.  It is a pretty big city but we had a B&B which was just a block from the downtown medieval core of the city. We had a safe parking spot and we could easily walk into the core whenever we wanted, and so we spent our last two nights wandering the interesting old streets of Galway. The River Corrib runs through the city, and there are several canals with locks built in the mid 1800’s. Streams seem to rush into the canals and river all the way along so everywhere you look, there is a lovely “water feature”.

We found a nice restaurant – the Quay Street Kitchen – and had an early meal, listened to some live Irish music in two different pubs (Taaffes Bar and Tig Coili), and then spent the rest of the evening at our B&B. Once again, it was showery, windy, and cool.

The next morning, after a full Irish breakfast (eggs, sausages, bacon, beans, tomato, and toast for Erik, egg and toast for me), we walked around the old part of town, enjoying the 400+ year old buildings, and the talented buskers on every block. The weather changed every few minutes, but the wind was fairly constant. Whenever it started to rain, we ducked inside a shop to browse around, and in one sweater shop, I bought Erik a traditional Irish “grandfather” shirt. I loved all of the beautiful knit sweaters and would love to get the pattern for one of the ponchos (see my photos below) – a new knitting challenge perhaps?!

On our second night, we ended up back in the same restaurant for dinner where we shared three starters, and then we sat on the street and listened to a great 5 piece band for at least half an hour.  There was a young woman doing Irish dancing, and a cute little 5 year old girl who was full of energy doing her own hilarious version of the dance. Eventually we made our way back to the B&B and started to get our bags ready for the long haul travel on Saturday.

On Friday we drove to Swords, a suburb of Dublin, near the airport and stopped at a mall where we had a late lunch and bought a few snack foods for dinner at our hotel. Then we checked into our hotel and Erik drove to the airport to drop off the rental car, and returned by shuttle. We needed to get to bed early because we had to be at the airport around 6:30 am for our 8:30am flight.  We figured we’d be home about 23 hours from the time we leave the hotel. Gotta love those long flights home….

This was our first time flying Westjet for a transatlantic flight and we were pleasantly surprised.  We were in row 4, and we seemed to have lots of room – much more leg room than some of the other airlines we’ve flown with. Our first leg to St John’s Newfoundland took just under 5 hours and we had to disembark, go through customs, drop off our bags again, and then get back onto the same plane.  It was nice to have a 2 hour break.  Our next flight took us to Toronto in about 3 1/2 hours and it was a bit of a bumpy ride at the end because of building thunderclouds.  Since we had a 4 hour layover there, we decided to use up two of our four free Priority Passes that come with our MasterCard and so we have access to Premium Lounges at airports around the world. We were able to find two comfy armchairs next to the window, enjoy free food and liquor, and really relax for about 3 hours. While we waited, there was a massive thunderstorm with torrential rain and the airport was shut down for about an hour to wait out the tornado warning.  Luckily for us, it all cleared before our 6pm flight and we had no delays in taking off for the final 4 1/2 hour leg of our trip.

By this time, we were getting pretty tired having been up for 18 hours already, and it was midnight to our bodies.  We hit some turbulence several times while early on in the flight and I was feeling quite nauseous from motion sickness and extreme fatigue.  While I was in the bathroom, we hit a big pocket of turbulence and I had to hang onto the bar along the wall to keep from getting thrown around.  Then the mirrored cupboard door above the sink flew open and I couldn’t shut it, and the corner was right at my eye level. I really had trouble getting dressed again without getting hit in the face by the cupboard door. Trying to keep my head low, I practically crawled out of the bathroom, and hurried back to my seat (thank god it was only 4 rows) hanging on to the seats for dear life.

Once I was buckled back in my seat, I breathed a sigh of relief but the bouncing around, coupled with the fatigue, made me feel sicker and sicker.  Eventually, once the turbulence was over, I rushed back to the bathroom and threw up everything I’d eaten in Toronto, and then I felt better and dozed off and on for the next two hours, just praying to be home soon. Unfortunately, I began to feel worse again for the last 30 minutes of the flight. The moment we landed, Erik asked the stewardess to allow me to get off first, and I made my way to the front pushing past all the “Plus” guests, leaving Erik to gather my belongings. Once out of the plane, I staggered into Kelowna airport, hoping I was going to right way since I didn’t have anyone to follow.  I made it to the arrivals area, saw my sister and left her with the few things I was carrying, and said “Here, take this stuff  – I’m gonna throw up” and then Iran off to the airport bathroom. Ugh, what a flight.  I am getting too old to do 24 hour travel days.  LOL…

Kathleen drove us home, and she had the bed all made up with clean sheets, food in the fridge, and the house spotless.  We looked around the garden and then I took a Gravol and went straight to bed. I just needed 8 hours of sleep I think.  I’m really glad our fall flights are going to be in two hops, and only 13 hours in total.

Unrelated to my motion sickness story above, I didn’t mention in my previous blog posts that throughout our trip, I had some stomach issues that I strongly suspect are gallbladder related and so we found that impacted our trip to a certain extent.  I really couldn’t enjoy the food along the way, especially in Spain and Portugal, because I was always being careful about what I ate, trying to avoid heavy, spicy, or fatty foods, and I found I could not drink alcohol at all, so for most of the trip, I drank water – still or fizzy.  I didn’t get medical treatment while I was away because I was managing the symptoms (although we were prepared to if anything got really bad), but I do have an appointment with my own doctor as soon as I get home so hopefully I can get this sorted out before we leave the country again in two months! It really does suck to have to deal with health stuff when you are travelling in a different country, especially when you change cities every 2-3 days.

Overall, this has been an amazing, relaxing, and interesting trip – we’ve seen so much of Portugal, Spain, Scotland, and Ireland, and as always, I have loved the varying landscapes, the history, the architecture, and the people. Despite my gut issues, I was able to really enjoy the food and drink a few times at least, and as always, I loved meeting so many interesting people along the way, in particular, my 2nd cousins in Scotland. However, as much as I love to travel, I love coming home just as much.

And so, we will now enjoy two months at home in the Okanagan. I am really looking forward to sleeping in my own bed, eating my own food, working in my garden, sitting out on my deck, and seeing my friends and family! And then, on August 17, we are off to the UK for two months – first spending a week in Cornwall, and then we start our 5 weeks of house/pet sitting adventures before rounding out the trip with a week in an all-inclusive in Crete, then home again mid October. Life is always an adventure!

Next up: Summer in the Okanagan!

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Love the caps
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River dancer?  She wasn’t in her pretty dress in this one but just having a bit of fun.
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I want one – only €2000
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More buskers – these guys were excellent.
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This is a kid’s version but I want to make the adult one.
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A must-read – travelling makes me feel smarter
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Buskers galore
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Good music here
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Love the old buildings
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Another rainy day
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River Corrib

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At Taaffe’s Bar
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I finally had a beer!
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Durty Nelly’s in Bunratty
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