Ireland Travel Stories – Post One

In the next month I’m planning to post 8 times. This is in order to complete a project for Toastmasters – Level 4 in the Innovative Planning Pathway. 8 times in a month feels like a really tall order. It is requiring some thought and planning to figure out what to blog about with that kind of frequency. I’ve decided to post about our recent trip to Ireland. You can (hopefully) expect the next 8 posts (twice a week) to tell stories about what I saw or experienced on the trip. I hope you enjoy.

I’d forgotten how brutal it feels to skip a night of sleep. Squished into the middle seat on a flight, unable to move much, or get comfortable enough to sleep. I’m trying not to let frustration get the better of me. I’m also working on letting go of focusing on the fact that we arrive at our destination just after 12 am our time, which is in fact 5 am in the new time. Poof – a whole night gone without a wink of sleep.

We were perhaps a bit zealous in planning our first day. After no sleep 💤 we caught a taxi to the train station and had a delightful conversation with the friendly driver who has lived all over the world. Whenever the Irish rain gets too much , he moves away for a while. My tired brain later remembers that he’s lived in Australia, New Zealand, San Francisco, Croatia and more. The language, Gaelic, is having a resurgence he says, because the new schools make kids do all their subjects in Irish. You can hear these younger kids using the language, he says, as he keeps up his friendly conversation.  (“Are Irish and Gaelic interchangeable?” I wonder, as we drive through the damp streets in the still-dark morning) .

The Gaelic language in Ireland – Gaeilge, or Irish as it’s known locally – is a Celtic language and one of “the oldest and most historic written languages in the world” according to Foras na Gaeilge

We wait for our train across country. It’s 6 am and it’s raining. Don’t worry, says our taxi driver, the rain will be gone by noon and you’ll have a beautiful afternoon. The train station is starting to come to life. We try to find coffee – earl grey tea for me ( even though I’ve been 98% off caffeine for the last 6 weeks). I weigh my desperation for caffeine with the thought that it will probably impact my sleep later on. It’s 6:20am and those desperate enough start lining up for their caffeine boost. We wait. What is the coffee-booth employee doing in there and why is it taking so long? My lack of sleep is peaking through in my attitude. We finally get what we’re looking for about 6:45am. I’m thankful my resourceful husband has managed to get us on the 7:35am train to Galway. Waiting in the cold, breezy, dripping station until 9:30am (our original departure time) isn’t appealing on no sleep and one small cup of tea. I do the calculations. I can’t help myself. Its 1:45am Ontario time. It’s vacation and I’m trying to get into the spirit of the adventure. It sort of works.

We make our way into the train, thinking we might nap on the 2.5 hour journey but the bright lights, noisy cabin and uncomfortable seats make it impossible for me. On second thoughts, perhaps my earl grey had something to do with it. We watch the hours tick by, counted by sheep and green, flat fields. The hedgerows eventually turn into little stone walls between fields and we start to see the ground turn hilly in the distance. We see a big body of water as we near Galway.

It’s time to find our way to the Galway Budget office to rent a car. It’s a short walk. We pass pubs and little shops.  As our taxi driver had predicted, the rain has stopped and it’s turning into a beautiful day. I’m so hungry. Most of the food available in the previous 12 or so hours seems to have been things on my lengthy food intolerance list. It’s added some stress because I’m hungry and tired. I braved some of what I was offered even though it definitely contained dairy, which probably also contributes to feeling a bit off my usual self. I have a tin of mackerel with me for this kind of emergency but it’s smelly and I forgot to bring a fork or spoon. I don’t want to eat it where there are too many people around because of the smell and I’ll have to eat it in my fingers – messy and embarrassing. Eating it feels like I’ll be drawing too much attention to myself. Plus, we’re trying to get to the rental car place. I glance at pub and restaurant breakfast menus as we pass. I’m not an easy breakfast person. I can’t eat most of the normally offered breakfast foods. We keep going.

After some setbacks at the rental car place, which were not part of the plan, we follow the map as we walk to a parking garage about 5 or 10 minutes away where we’ll find the rental vehicle on level 4. Remember, Budget-guy says in his Irish accent, you’re going to drive on the left everywhere except the parking garage. In the garage, you have to drive on the right. Follow the arrows. Keep right until you leave the building and then drive on the left. (Clear as mud, I think). Also, remember to use the green handles to fill up at the gas station, that’s the gas. Not black, that’s diesel.

We stop in the grassy square opposite  Budget. I look after the bags and finally have a chance to eat my mackerel while Chris goes in search of more coffee (and even though I’m sure I’ll regret it later, tea for me. I need the boost to get us to our final destination for the day – about an hour and a half drive from Galway.) I feel significantly better after the fish and tea.

It’s a bit hectic to drive out of the twists and turns of the downtown, in a new car – a standard drive – on the left, but Chris is a champion and I do my best to navigate.

Finally we get to the one road we need to follow to get to our Airbnb near Clifden. The scenery is gorgeous. Lakes everywhere. Green stone-walled fields. Sheep. The ground is hilly. The roads narrow. The day has turned blue-sky glorious.

When we arrive at our Airbnb Chris is very quickly asleep which is exactly what I want to do. Despite the tea, I’m tired after no sleep. It’s about 1 pm local time. I lie awake – tired and wired – trying to will myself to sleep. Eventually I get up and go outside. I don’t want to miss the Irish sunshine while it’s here. I know it rains a lot.

I sit at the picnic table outside and look out across the grassy hills to the Atlantic. The view fills me up. I can feel myself recharging. The fields are so green and spotted with sheep. The pastoral scene is tranquil. The sun is sparkling on the water.

Behind the house is just as lovely – a steep hill with a subtle wash of yellow and purple reaching for the blue sky. A lone cow looks balanced right on the top.

The long trip has been worth it, just for this view. I drink it in.

Our day is far from over. Later, we walk, we visit nearby Clifden. We go for drinks and listen to live music. We have a lovely fish dinner, finally returning to our beds and jet-lagged sleep.

4 thoughts on “Ireland Travel Stories – Post One

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