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Vacation Day 11, Ireland Day 2 – Driving… Driving… Galway, Random Stops, & Birr (night)

Ok… Had planned to post some pictures tonight, but I don’t have the cord to my main cameras… DOH! Add to that a sub-par internet connection that won’t even allow me to send pictures from my phone for crap. Oh well! Tomorrow night we’ll be back in our flat in London, so that’ll have to do.

We started out the morning leaving from Sligo to head toward Galway. Original plan was to pass Galway and go to a castle in the area. Well, it didn’t quite happen that way. I think we took about three hours to get to Galway because we got distracted by a couple of sites along the way. Now, most people don’t know what Amanda and I are into looking at. Amanda likes looking at the clouds and breaks where the sun is coming down, animals, beautiful trees, and buildings. Me, I like those things, but I love staring at old buildings, especially REALLY old buildings. So, when we were wandering London, for example, I loved checking out crumbling walls and buildings in need of repair from however many hundreds of years ago. On the trip to Galway, my favorite distraction was a crumbling abbey, now a cemetery. Gorgeous as it is and we could picture it with stained glass and such. There were ominous black birds flying around, which could have been ravens, but I didn’t get a close enough look at them. They flew through the ruins, crying out, and if it were darker, it probably would have been creepy. We didn’t walk in because the main gate was zip tied and there were newer (50 years or less) graves amid the crumbling ones, so we again decided to respect the dead.

After the cold drove us away from the abbey, we finished the trip to Galway, struggled to find parking, and then made our way toward their big shopping area, basically a large walkway (old street that cars can’t go on that’s all cobblestone) lined with everything under the sun. Every fifth shop is a jeweler, sweater shop, or “Ireland” shop, every other was a restaurant or a pub. The rest were random things like post offices, banks, and other odds and ends. We fell in love with the area and the people running the shops… Had a few good conversations, an amazing “rustic” meal in one restaurant (GF, too!), and spent way too much money. Irish wool sweaters have to be the best in the world, but they’re not cheap! One thing we were proud of, though, is that we didn’t buy anything today that wasn’t made in Ireland. Just a matter of principal! Don’t go to Ireland and buy something made in China or something… Support the craftsmen and women who have taught these master skills over hundreds of generations. I think we bought four sweaters, three scarves, one woven hat, and three caps so far. Oops! Oh, and some small jewelry… We took EasyJet to Belfast and only had carry on luggage, one piece each… I started stuffing things back in our luggage tonight and I’m still a bit worried how we’ll make it work without checking anything. Double oops!

Anywho, we had planned to leave Galway and see a castle in the area and then drive to Birr. By the time we left Galway, though, it was getting dark, so we opted to head in the direction of Birr. It was black outside in no time and driving on the narrower roads was a bit nerve wracking  but what can you do?!?! It took about another hour and forty-five minutes to get to the B&B we pre-booked last night (we didn’t want to have a repeat performance of trying to find a place to sleep), so we were closing in on 8pm by the time we got here. “Here” is the Emmet House in Birr (http://www.emmethouse.com/) and it’s really a nice place. The lady running the place, Evelyn (hope I’m spelling it right) is very charming and actually brought Amanda a hot water bottle for her back right after I brought our luggage up. We spoke for a few when we arrived and, I don’t know… She was just a nice embodiment of everything positive we’ve seen in Ireland – nice people, thoughtful, and calm. We kind of wish now we had come here first and used this area as our base of operations. Alas, though, perhaps next time.

Anyway, it’s after 10 here now and I need to get to sleep. We’re relaxed, but tired, and we’ll have breakfast waiting for us in the morning!

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