Travel slowly, staying in vacation rentals (villas, farms, cottages, apartments)
Report 1922: Coasting Through Ireland on Pints of Cider
By Green Dragon from FL, Spring 2011
Page 13 of 21: Monday, May 23rd: Celtic Cross Addiction Satisfied – For Now
Up early and ready for our non-Joe Gill taxi ride to the docks! Joe was kind enough to make the arrangements, and get up early to make sure we were well-fed. He asked if we wanted something different for breakfast, since the ferry ride was likely to be very rocky, but we both assured him that we had iron stomachs, and would be fine (and we were). We settled up with him (he had fronted the money for the bike rentals the day before) and we made it in good time to the ferry. The taxi driver (John) talked to us about Obama's visit, the Queen, and even Pope John Paul II (the best pope ever, in his opinion).
While the wind was fierce, there was no rain to make it miserable, so it was energizing rather than depressing. The boat crossed the waves sideways, so the ferry went side to side rather than up and down like the trip over. It made it hard to stand, but still fun. We did find the music on the ferry interesting – it was a local radio show, and played Kung Fu Fighting and Freedom.
We drove towards Galway, and while TomTom wanted us to go around the city, we decided to try to find the Spanish Arch and drive around inside the city a bit – a foolish idea at 9:30am on a Monday morning, perhaps. It was very crowded, very traffic-heavy, with buses and people everywhere. We didn't find the arch (even if we had, there was no place to park) and decided we had had enough with the hustle and bustle. After we saw the unusual site of a redhead man with dredlocks, we made our way out of the city and on to Clonmacnoise.
Our final stop that night was Ballyvaughan, but there was enough time for a detour on the way to this large monastic site. This was where we were when the heavy winds hit, and at one point I actually had to hold down my big, heavy purse as the wind was actually lifting it up.
Clonmacnoise has two round towers (one evidently older than the other), many beautiful crosses, and is situated on the river Shannon. It was lovely, and fed my Celtic Cross addiction for a while. We made our way back through gentle rolling green hills with farms and villages, crossed a river with the humorous name of River Suck, and made it to Kinvarra – at which point TomTom took us over a mountain again. While we were used to his shenanigans by now, it was always an adventure to discover if he had chosen a road that still went through where he thought it did.
We found Ballyvaughan easily, and our B&B was right where I thought it was, just past Monk's Pub, literally right next door. It was a lovely big place, with bright, colorful gardens, parking, and a large room. The bathroom was nice, the view over Galway Bay was delightful, even in the gloom. We checked in (had a little trouble getting onto WiFi), and then went off to Monk's for a late lunch.
We each had a half pint with lunch, me sticking with cider and V trying Smithwicks ("Smiddicks") for the first time. I had a salad that was made up of slices of black pudding, crispy bacon, slices of green apple, and a balsamic vinaigrette – it was a bit dry, but still a tasty combination. V had the goat's cheese salad once again.
We walked into town, explored the neighborhood, went into Spar for some snack refills. We went into a gift store, and discovered the closest ATM was back in Kinvarra. The weather started deteriorating, so we walked quickly back to the B&B, got the Internet working, and asked the hostess (very nice, but a bit fluttery) about a local launderette. There was one in town, we could go by in the morning before we headed out.
Tonight we headed back to Kinvarra for cash, stopping at several brown signs on the way – Traugh Beach, a Napoleonic lookout tower, and other various beaches and scenic views. In Kinvarra, I finally found my toothpaste (I prefer a brand you can't get in the US). The town of Kinvarra was a little quiet, oddly so, but it had a largish Londis that we shopped around in a bit.
On the way back, we saw our first Irish rainbow – a double one, and one that met the earth on both sides. Welcome to the Emerald Isle!
We stopped for dinner at the Hyland Burren Hotel and Pub. It was very quiet, and we thought at first it was closed, but it was open. Again, not tourist season here yet, I suppose. I had the smoked salmon and prawn rose marie salad, while V stuck with her seafood chowder.
V has several cats, and all have Egyptian names. We discussed possible names for future cats, and she opined that she couldn't have a cat named Ra, because Ra was the Sun God, and all the other cats would think he was better than them.
We had an early night tonight, praying to the weather Gods to be kind to us tomorrow.
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