Day 9: More Traveling, Some Sightseeing and Suchlike
Thursday 23 Jun 2011 - Friday 24 Jun 2011
Last night, although not a nightmare, was certainly a less than perfect experience. My flight was delayed again, leading me to think that I am doomed to spend my days trapped in the hellish world of recycled air and expensive fodder that defines airports all over the world. Scheduled to leave at 10:20pm, our plane had landing gear issues while en route to pick us up and was taken out of service. The airline managed to get another plane in the air to pick us up in Edinburgh, but that was two hours later.
This venerable veteran of the airways was a two engine prop job that reminded me of the glory days of air flight, save for the luxury that is encompassed in that image. With the propellors roaring like chainsaws in my ears and my seat trembling like an hyperactive massage chair, I managed to fall asleep, missing the flight entirely. Somehow during my planning, I must have anticipated this and had arranged for a hotel that had 24 hour reception. Thankful that I did not have to roust anyone out of bed, I made it to my hotel and hit the sack.
I awoke in Ireland.
Breakfast was much the same as in the UK, but with regional differences, soda bread and white pudding being the ones I noticed here. Since I was traveling to Ballyvaughan today, I repacked and checked out after breakfast, leaving my bag in the hotel's care while I wandered Galway a bit.
The rain was coming down steadily, which managed to get me well soaked by the afternoon, but it's only water, after all. I walked from Eyre Square south along the pedestrian area which seems to be the tourist centr of Galway. I stopped at several historic sites including Lynch's Castle and Lynch's Window, being a grim memorial at the site where then mayor James Lynch Fitzstephens convicted and hanged his son Walter in 1493. The story says that Walter killed a visiting Spaniard for making eyes at his lover. Lynch senior punished his son by hanging him from this window. This may be where the term "lynching" came from. Or not.
I also stopped by the Spanish Arch, which was added in 1584 as an extension of the city walls. Contrary to it's name, there is no relation between the Spanish Arch and Spaniards in Galway. It is on the edge of the river Corrib and provided a lookout spot to alert the city to incoming ships, which could be Spanish but probably weren't. Nearby is the Galway City Museum which was closed for renovations. Perhaps I'll stop on my way back.
After a time, with no sign that the rain was going to let up, I returned to my hotel and attempted to dry out in the bar. I ate, I drank, and I hid from the rain until it was time to catch the bus to Ballyvaughan.
The bus ride was...exciting. Once we left the city, we sped down country roads that seemed barely wide enough for the bus, much less the oncoming traffic. The farther we got from Galway, the more the rain lessened so by the time we were well out into the country, there was just a misty drizzle. The hills out here are green, dotted with cows, sheep and horses and crisscrossed with stone fences that divide the pastures. The only word I can come up with to describe the villages we passed through is "quaint" although that may have a derogatory sound to it. I do not intend it that way. The villages are small, and they are laid out along the main roadways. The buildings are old, some may be very old, so the architecture lends a certain ambience that implies a permanence, as though nothing has changed and nothing will change. The people whom I've met have been very kind, helping a befuddled tourist however they can.
When I disembarked from the bus I went into Logue's, since it is right at the stop, a pub/lodging house, to ask directions. My B&B, the Burren View, is a little out of town, situated closer to the college and the sights. The publican directed me to "go left out the door and walk to the end of town; turn up the road, past the church and it should be about five minute up there on the right." So out the door, up the road and past the church I went with my bag on my back, through the drizzle. And on I went. And on. I began to feel like I was in the first few minutes of "An American Werewolf in London" wandering blindly through the mists as night closes in. I considered singing "Santa Lucia" but opted against it. I walked on, wondering if I had somehow misunderstood the simple directions.
Just when I thought I had gone too far or taken a wrong turning, it wasn't the Slaughtered Lamb Pub that came into sight, but the Burren View, my B&B, where I was welcomed in by Bridget my hostess and am now ensconced safely and soundly in my room.