I started by trying to sleep in. Which I thought I could do, considering I couldn’t sleep last night. Nope. After 8 hours, I was up. I really hope this isn’t a new trend! So I went down and availed myself of the free breakfast. It was ok. The omelet was pretty good, and I got fruit, but the rest was so-so. V pulpy OJ, which I am not a fan of!
Then I got ready and set out for Kylemore Abbey, which is another thing I had wanted to do the last time, but it was too far from Galway for us to swing it. It is really an iconic sight, which if you googled it and looked at images, you might recognize it. Unfortunately I chose the month that they were doing spring planting in the walled Victorian Gardens, so it was closed. That meant that admission was cheaper, but there was a lot less to see. I saw the Abbey, which was only about 4 rooms (I thought there would be more open) and the Gothic Cathedral. (I could’ve went to the mausoleum, but chose not to.)
The Abbey was initially a castle, built by Mitchell Henry, for his wife in 1867. Apparently they were very in love and had something like 9 children. They went on vacation and she died in 1874. It’s very sad. After her death, Mitchell had the Gothic Cathedral built as a cathedral-in-miniature. It is quite small, but I loved it. Especially with the Christmas decorations.
The Castle was eventually bought by the Benedictine Nuns and was turned into an Abbey. They even ran a school there for many years. Both a day and a boarding school, which eventually had to close in 2010. The Abbey sits tucked into a rock façade and faces a lake. It is quite gorgeous. I wish I had been there in summer, but it had its own appeal in winter. The whole Connemara area was absolutely stunning (seriously, I need a thesaurus!). My GPS is whack and had me take some crazy way to get there. The Abbey sits on the road I took all the way from Galway, but it had me turn off into some vast field. But field doesn’t even begin to describe this. It was a barely paved road and there was a house maybe every mile. Maybe. But lots of loose sheepies. One ran in front of my car to cross the road, so I am glad I was going slow enough so as not to hit it! It was so gorgeous, I wish I had gotten out to take photos. But I was so intent on getting back on a real road, that I didn’t. But I drove very slow (conditions required), so I was able to take it all in. I definitely want to go to Connemara National Park next time, too (I think I was close when I was in this area).
After the Abbey I came back to Galway, but finally was able to eat at SuperMac’s! It’s just a fast food place, but Loren and I saw it everywhere and we never had a chance to eat it. I just wanted to try it, so I could say I’ve had Irish fast food! (it’s even been mentioned in some of the Irish chick-lit I read!) The chicken sandwich I had was actually quite good! Poor kid working the register, I think I had him say “do you want curry or garlic” about 12 times before I understood what he was saying. But more to the point, no. Why would I? I noticed that these have been linked with Papa John’s, which always gives garlic sauce with pizza, right? I don’t know, I don’t eat Papa John’s.
I made it back to my hotel and it was time for the big dress rehearsal for the final pack. I had contemplated getting a few other things that would have to go in my backpack, so I wanted to try it tonight to see how everything was fitting. Thankfully everything fits great (considering I am leaving almost all my tops, tanks, and socks here…in the garbage), I just hope it’s underweight. But I don’t think I can fit anything else, so I’m glad I gave it a shot before buying other things!
After the pack, I got ready and was going to take a taxi into the city center. It’s been just miserable weather off and on (but mostly on) here. The weather service actually upped its warning from yellow to orange today due to flooding and gale-force winds. They weren’t kidding. And they’re calling it a “Winter Bomb.” We have a polar vortex, they have a winter bomb. It really didn’t seem as bad as they were predicting, at least not in Galway or up to Kylemore. But the rain is persistent, so I didn’t want to walk the 1.5kms or so into the city center. So I asked the concierge how much a taxi costs and he said about 10 euro. You have got to be kidding me. For 1.5kms? Pass. Guess I’m driving. I didn’t want to drive in case I had too many, but I had to just limit myself!
I found a parking ramp not too far from the pedestrian mall area, which is where most of the pubs are located. I very quickly found Taaffes Bar, which my friend Scott told me to go to. The sign outside said “bar food until 10:30.” Sweet. No, they were finished serving food for the day. Ah yes, now I remember. Loren and I had a heck of a time getting dinner in Ireland, but Galway specifically. One place did the same thing: said it was open and then decided to close early. So strange. So I walked in the rain to try to find somewhere, but the mall area was desolate. Thankfully I didn’t have to go far before I found a place and it was even serving Shepherd’s Pie, which is what I wanted for dinner tonight (before I even knew about the Winter Bomb, but even better!).
After dinner, I went to Quay’s Bar, which was a favorite of mine and Loren’s. Apparently, the one in Dublin is owned by the same people, so I guess I could’ve went there instead of waiting for Galway! Unfortunately I was early for music, so I just had a pint of cider and moved on. I went back to Taaffes, in hopes of their music starting soon (it was around 9 and the sign said 9:30). Before the music started a large group of youths came in. I would call them “obnoxious youths”, but that’s probably redundant. They continued once the music started and I even shared a “look” and an eyeroll with one of the musicians over this crew. Thankfully they left soon after.
Then a group just decided to sit with me. Which is fine, I had a large-ish table, but perhaps ask first? I think it was a tour because the girl who sat down right next to me was from Australia and she said there were Aussies, Kiwis, and a Canuck. OK, she didn’t call them that. I don’t know which was the Canuck, I tried to guess. Soon they were all dancing anyway. It was a good night, but they didn’t play Galway Girl. Much to my disappointment. Much.
But they did play Green Day’s “Time of Your Life.” And I’m not gonna lie, I got a little verklempt. How fitting for my last night out and about on this trip. I have had the time of my life. Absolutely. Toward the end they played Stand by Me. And a drunk Irish girl who was sitting on a stool next to the booth I was in, reached down and put her arm around me and her head to my head so we could sing. Um, ok. And then she clasped our free hands during the chorus. But the best was when she asked me where I was from and I said United States. She threw her arms up into the air and “woo hoo’d”, yelling, “I love Americans!” Well, then. That was a nice response. Her name is Deidre, “but I’m Irish, so everyone just calls me Dee.” And I asked if she was from Galway, but she is not. She’s from Leitrim. And then she decided that she worked for Leitrim’s tourism board and started begging me to go there. “It will change your mind. It will ABSOLUTELY change your mind!” Not sure what she thinks my current frame of mind is… Then she asked if I would take a photo of her group, when one of the other girls apologized for her, saying “she’s really drunk.” Ha! I took a couple photos and as I gave her her camera back, she goes, “Now one of us!” There’s a photo of me in some random Irish girl’s camera.
And that’s a great way to end my last night out in Ireland! Tomorrow is all MEEEE day!!