Monday, April 18, 2016

Diary of a World Traveler

Galway: The Saddest Goodbye

I’ll keep this one brief, since I have been banging on about how much I love Galway basically since I set foot here. But I still think that our last day deserves a post. Saying goodbye to this great city was hard, even if I am looking forward to seeing some place new. What better way to say goodbye to the port city than a picnic on the beach?

We woke up to sunny skies shining through our window. Falsely encouraged, we waited anxiously until lunchtime to head out to the local beach spot in the park by Nimmo’s pier. Unfortunately, the weather did not hold. It never rained while we were out, but it did get blustery and freezing. I wore my winter coat for the first time in a long time just to ward off the chilly winds coming in off the bay. After a quick stop at the Spar for an ice cream and Pringles to go with my pre-packed sandwich, we were off down the canal to the beach.

I will say that this beach was not as pretty as many that I have been to. It was rocky, covered in dry kelp and garbage, and not really picturesque at all. But it was great to climb out on the rocks and smell the sea air of Galway Bay. All of us plopped down in a row on the cement wall to eat our sandwiches and chips. Swans came in and out, along with a couple adorable dogs. One of them ran like a streak out into the water, staying there and enticing us to play. It was a sheepdog named Torro, so his instinct was to herd all of the humans into one place. This proved a hard task for him to leave, even when his owner called for him. He stayed put knee deep in the water, wagging his tail and barking at us occasionally. Eventually, as his owner walked away, he gave up and went to follow her—but not before bounding across the waves and shaking off the water on the sidewalk.

Amidst all this, we started to build a small rock fort. It was meant to be a simple wall at first, but then expanded into a room, and then expanded even further into a palace made with boulders, shells, and flowers. The “inner sanctum” was completed with a mussel shelled floor, a dandelion bed, and a drawbridge door. We found a little crab (who sadly was no longer living) to put there so that he would be comfortable on the meager beach. The outer room turned out to be very large, and was finished with an arched doorway, shell accents, and a little tuft of red sparkly something that had been living on the sand. When all was done, I think any crab would be delighted to live there.

Once we had our fill of cold beach time, we walked back to the hotel via the Galway Port marina. Numerous sailboats and small yachts slept in their little cubbies, waiting for a nicer day to go out on the sea. The Galway Fisher oil tanker had come across the bay earlier and now sat in its normal spot at the docks near our hotel. And a fun fact: we also learned later that two bodies were found in the water there later, and without knowing it, we were walking past the dingy that was watching them. Absolutely crazy. Leaving Galway doesn’t seem so bad now…

But seriously, I love Galway so much. It is a city without being huge. We walked enough, but also did not have to walk too much. Every place we went was worth the stop, and every person we met was as nice as could be. The market is now one of my favorite places, and one I will have to go back to someday. There were also many great looking restaurants we left untouched. Oh well—just another reason to return. A food vacation sounds all right to me, that’s for sure!  

Our final dinner at the hotel was accompanied by a free punch from the hotel staff. They said we were a great group to work with and that they wanted to thank us for being nice, easy, and appreciative. I say job well done to everyone at work at the Harbour Hotel. I would recommend it to anyone, any time. That little room became our home for over two weeks, and it was bittersweet to see it go. Time absolutely flew by, and continues to fly by as I write. I cannot believe we are already halfway through our time here.

We leave for Sligo in the morning, with stops at Céide Fields archeological site and Downpatrick’s Head, a cliff with a blowhole and a sea stack. I can’t wait! Sligo is as far north as we will be staying, so I am looking forward to seeing how things operate up there versus the other cities we’ve been. The anthropologist in me will be ready!

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