Thursday, April 28, 2016

Diary of a World Traveler

Sligo Day 10: Saying Goodbye

Saying goodbye to Sligo will be fairly easy compared to the other places we’ve been so far. That is no fault of the city itself, but rather of the poor timing of our visit. Week eight is always a stressful time at home, and apparently a term abroad is no different. But I am glad we got to stop here, even for a little while, and experience a smaller-town feel while still being close to a lot of great places!

For our final day in Sligo, I had the very interesting experience of taking my clothes to a launderette for the first time. The place was only a ten minute walk away, but it was amazing to see the visible difference between the bustling, congested city center to the “suburbs” just five minutes out. We successfully located the little shop, dropped our bags off to be picked up in a few hours, and then headed back to an antique shop we had passed on the way there.

Going in, we did not expect much—the window display looked enticing, but I was afraid the items would either be too expensive or not what I was looking for. What a surprise we got! The whole place was teeming with tea cups, silver pieces, furniture, records, sheet music, clocks, swords, figurines, a piano—you name it, there was probably an antique version somewhere in this shop. The front room was so packed that we thought it was the end of the collection. Another surprise! There was a whole “back room” that was basically a storage hanger of space, filled with even larger pieces like whole bookcases (complete with all the books probably found on it when it arrived), dining tables, big chairs, small chairs, couches, a saddle hanging in the corner, framed artwork, and really amazing armoires. And all of it was decently priced. I was amazed.

But not only the stock impressed me. The man who owned the shop told us to have a look around, and look we did. We also got a chance to talk with him, though. We told him we were from Chicago (I have just adopted the place of origin since no one knows where Milwaukee is), and he told us he had cousins in Chicago. So many people we’ve met have cousins in Chicago! Then we got to talking more about our classes, why we were here, how excited we were to find a real antique shop for once. He asked if either of us had Irish ancestry or a connection at all. Diana said a little bit, and I said absolutely none. He then asked where I was from, and I said, “Germany!” Turns out his wife used to teach German at the secondary school level to 12-18 year old students, so we had a good bonding moment over that. Honestly, he was one of the nicest people we’ve had the chance to meet yet. Though Sligo might not have delivered in quantity, the quality definitely delivered. I left the shop with a set of two brass horse figurines and a trio of tea cup, saucer, and plate for €40 total. That is not bad at all, considering what some antiques here can run for. I was so happy leaving that shop that I floated the rest of the way back to the hotel.

The rest of the day proceeded without much trouble. Homework took precedence once again, unfortunately. Right before dinner, we went back to the launderette to pick up our newly washed clothes, then came back to pack them until dinner. The final dinner here was used to celebrate one of my fellow student’s 21st birthday, so the whole evening turned out to be very fun.

Once dinner finished, a large group of us went out to a place called Lillies, where I enjoyed some phenomenal traditional music and a pint of Bulmers (well, almost a whole pint). The bar itself was a very weird but cool mixture of 70s wallpaper and radio motif furnishings, old books and Guinness bottles, vintage bulbs hanging from industrial fixtures, and crazy expensive specialty cocktails. I’d call it a hipster bar, but in the most respectful of ways—as in, I would go there, too, if I lived around here and wanted to see some great music at a local place.

There were only three musicians there when we arrived around 10:15 PM, so the tunes were quiet. But I could tell just by the faint sound that caught my ear that these guys would be good to listen to. Seated in a little corner of the bar, all alone from the rest of the patrons, were a guitar player, a fiddler, and a flutist. None of them were as young as some of the other sessions I’ve seen—this probably explains their skill. They played mostly reels, throwing in an odd jig that made me smile because it was so lovely. I sat contented in a little table, talking with two other girls about English and social science classes for the upcoming year. At about 11:20 PM, we started getting organized to leave. Unfortunately, a banjo player arrived almost just as we had decided to leave in five minutes. I did not get to hear much of him, but the banjo added a little oomf to the group, giving each tune a little bit of metallic edge. The sounds of voices still drowned out the music. But that is how any good session should turn out, isn’t it?

Sligo has been an interesting place, because I feel like I know nothing about the town and everything about the surrounding area. While we’ve been here, I have not had much time to look around at shops, but I have gone on many day trips and seen some amazing folklore sites, an awesome beach, and experienced Northern Ireland for the first time. I got to surf in cold water, letting the salt air wash away any thoughts of homesickness—at least for a few hours. The time is coming closer to go home to Dublin, and I honestly cannot wait for it. Another surprise rainbow from this beautiful place did send us off, though, as we sat together and ate our last meal at the Glasshouse Hotel. I feel pretty confident about leaving tomorrow thanks to that little sign of good luck.

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