Wednesday, November 2, 2011

My Big Fat Irish Vacation: Day 4: Galway

This is the day our luck ran out - weather-wise, that is. The fine Indian summer weather gave way to something more typically Irish - rain. And rain it did. We had planned to go to Athlone and take a cruise on a replica Viking ship, but the idea of riding in a boat in the pouring rain held no charm for us, and we decided to head on out to Galway on the west coast.

We'd been warned about Irish road signs, but everything was working out alright - until we got to Galway. It was tangled, congested and what signage there was was awful. We had a good map, but it wasn't much help. The idea of having street signs in the cities hasn't seemed to have caught on in Ireland. If there is any kind of signage at all, it may be painted on the building, a stone, or inserted on a plaque in a wall, maybe a few car lengths from the intersection. You don't know where to look. We finally found the Tourist Information Office, and soon found that not only is Galway tricky to drive, it's murderously difficult to park. We found what we hoped was a quasi-legal parking space. Tom stayed with the car in case the local constabulary took an interest and I hoofed it for the TI office.

They found us a B&B in nearby Salt Hill. Getting there was a pain - we finally found it by turning down a road just to see if it was the right one. DunRovin is a 4 bedroom house run by Jerry Borgan, who, among many other things, is an Elvis impersonator. In fact, I'm not sure he didn't have a gig that night as he soon left us to our devices and took his "Elvis" sign with him.

 The B & B was on a cul de sac, but there was a footpath connecting it to the main street. We'd had enough of dealing with Galway traffic, so we walked back to the city - a bit of a hike, but it was a pleasant evening and after all the hassles with the car, much nicer.
Galway in early evening

It was a cold, rainy evening, yet Galway's streets were packed. There are at least 2 universities in Galway, the locals, and lots of tourists besides, all literally rubbing shoulders in the pedestrianized medieval part of town. We bounced like rubber balls back and forth trying to pick a place to have supper. Tom started chatting up a very charming young lady who was promoting a small restaurant on the second floor. On her suggestion, we got wine at the pub on street level, then went up. I ordered lasagna on the premise you can't mess that up too badly. I need not have feared, the sweet young thing did not steer us wrong, and it was a very nice meal.

Now, a quick word about Irish road signs. 
For starters, they are in Irish first, English second. 
Most of the time this is No Big Deal.
 Sometimes though, you have to read fast.

And sometimes, it's better to just not even ask!

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