Saturday, April 16, 2016

Diary of a World Traveler

Galway Day 14: "He just kept giving me chocolate chips!"

Our last Saturday in Galway… it is so bittersweet to have such good weather for our final market and shopping excursion. We ate some awesome food, met some amazing artists, and bought more than we probably should have. I really hope there is nothing in Sligo, because otherwise, I will be out of money very quickly.

I got up pretty early to eat breakfast and chill out before we headed out to the market at 10:30AM. It was already in full swing, as it was a bright and sunny morning, even if it was a little chilly. There was an olive booth there this week that hadn’t been there last week, but a lot of the stalls were the same: flowers, jewelry, felt and leather goods, crepes, doughnuts, produce, the Hare Krishna vegetarian stand. There was a Galway Hooker ship in front of the church, which was neat to see out of the water. We walked past the Cheesemongers store, a busking guitarist with an adorable Jack Russell dog. While looking around for things people would like, I bought a leather wrist cuff for Dad and a Celtic Peace Knot necklace made out of native Irish yew wood for Mom by an artist named Juliet. Her stand is right across from the crepe trailer, which would be a dangerous spot for me to be!

I also went to a small art stand and bought a print and a frame made by one of the artists in the studio. The artist selling the artwork said their studio is called The Blow In Gallery because none of the three of them are from the West, and that is what Galwegians call outsiders. I knew this from some of the research I had encountered, so I thought it was a cool example of cultural ideas taking hold.   

Diana bought a ceramic sheep from a lovely lady named Suzie before we broke for lunch. The falafel oil had been heating up, but they were ready now. I got the Workx again and also asked what was in the sweet salad that I liked so much. Turns out it is like a bigger, denser couscous with raisins, pomegranate, mint, and pomegranate oil. I’ve never had pomegranate, but apparently I like it! I also tried different sauces this week: the homemade beetroot ketchup and the spicy sauce. We all got out lunches and sat on the little ledge across from the trailer, just in front of the church. The sun was shining and it was perfect…

…Until it started raining. We decided to take refuge in St. Nicholas church, which is where Christopher Columbus made his last stop before coming to America. I don’t know how true that is, but that is what we heard. Though it is not as spectacular as some of the others we’ve seen, it did have very pretty windows and a nice section of wooden ceiling. Some of us lit candles in one of the side chapels before checking on the weather.

After the rain had died down a little, we went back out and got in line for crepes. I got a cinnamon sugar one last week, so I went with a Nutella with fresh strawberry this week. The sign said local Galway strawberries, and it turns out the produce is all from the man who sells produce on the end of the market! His strawberries were delicious, as was the crepe. The man who owns the stand is a local worker who decided to start this business on the side. He was asking about college, how the tuition was treating us, and when we were planning on moving to Galway. That is not a question to ask me, because at this point, I might be giving a serious answer! When at a market like that talking with people like him and all of the other amazing local merchants, it is hard to think about leaving.

Just before we thought we were ready to go, I made two quick impulse purchases. The first was a little “baby dragon” for my brother. I hadn’t gotten him anything yet from Galway, but I wanted to get each member of my family something local from my favorite city in Ireland. There is a stand that sells handmade fairies and accessories, including adorable little green or red dragons. The green one I picked out was cute, but also sporting a serious expression and gnarly (if adorable) front teeth. He collects dragons, and though his are usually more scary and realistic than this, I still feel like he will be happy that I bought him one of the only dragons in all of Galway.

The second was a turquoise and brass bracelet for myself. The artist was Italian and she had a whole stand of absolutely beautiful rings, necklaces, bracelets, cuffs, and earrings on display. She makes all of them herself. I had walked by earlier in the day and admired everything, but resisted. While my other friends were browsing at another booth, I snuck back over to her booth and tried on the cuff I had been looking at. The scrollwork detailing is gorgeous and the turquoise stone goes perfectly with the brass color. All around, I think it was worth the money. I put it on as soon as I bought it and it has not been off yet. I love it!

We finished with the market after that, and our only stop left was Treasure Chest. I needed to buy the pewter my parents had requested from there, so I popped in and grabbed the two I wanted right away. The shot glass is beautiful and unique, but the goblet is stunning. It has the story of a retinue of knights chasing after a bull, which is a scene in Celtic mythology. The cup itself is a great shape, too, so I hope Dad likes it!

On the way back to the hotel, we listened and gave money to a few busking outfits. Two young boys were playing together, one on a banjo and the other on concertina and cajón drum. They were very talented for their age. I saw one woman give them a small bill, which is unusually large to give buskers. The banjo player smiled as his eyebrows shot up, surprised and thankful for such kindness. It made me smile that they could be out doing what they love and practicing to get better at the traditional tunes. Not many young kids can play that well, but these guys were pretty good already.

The other busking group was a quartet of two guitars, one bouzouki, and one upright bass. All four of them were singing classic songs as well as folk songs with such joy and genuine happiness that I couldn’t not give them some spare change. The bass player also had a tambourine attached to his foot, and a kazoo rigged around his head so that he could play it when he wanted but also sing along with the rest of the group if needed. They had an energy that brought excitement to the crowd. They had a pull. They were really talented, but they also had that special spark that makes people want to stop, look, and listen. I really enjoyed their performance. They are one of the only buskers I gave money to all week. I couldn’t refuse.

The day ended slowly after that. I worked out. We worked on homework, mostly, and then broke for dinner. After that, we pretty much went to bed. Tomorrow is our last day here, and we plan on having a picnic on the beach for lunch, then going out to the Crane to hear some trad music at an old local pub. It should be a great way to end our fabulous two weeks in Galway—no matter how much I would like to stay. 

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