it’s true that most of ‘touristy’ Galway can be done in about three hours. there’s the Spanish Arch, where ships used to offload goods coming from Spain, and a memorial from the city of Genoa commemorating the fact that Columbus stopped in Galway before heading off across the Atlantic. the Claddagh village has been replaced with a modern development, but until the early 20th century, it was a thatched-roof fishing village. in addition to the River Corrib, there are lots of canals running towards the bay. St. Nicholas’s Cathedral sits next to one overlooking the salmon weir bridge. it was consecrated in 1965 by a bishop from Boston, has Connemara marble floors, mahogany pews (where up to 2,000 parishoners sit during worship), and cedar ceilings from Canada. the old town is a twist of pedestrian streets lined with shops and pubs and bustling with people. there’s a pub called the King’s Head just over the road from where I am now, which was given to the man charged with executing Charles I. it was recommended to me, so i might have a wander in later after i’ve gotten something to eat for dinner.
tomorrow it’s north again, through Cong and Connemara to Westport.
after two fantastic evenings in Dingle, I’m back in the bustle of a city in Galway. today’s drive through Clare and the Burren wasn’t nearly as windy or tiring as that around the Ring of Kerry, and nearly as dramatic. pictures eventually, including the Cliffs of Moher, where i got quite soggy this afternoon! i’m hoping that my pants will be dry enough by tomorrow that i might wear them, instead of getting creative with what else i have, or breaking down and buying something.
calling it an early night tonight with my book, but tomorrow night the plan is to go in search of some music. somehow i don’t anticipate a live music and dance session like the one that broke out last night at Dick Mack’s in Dingle, though …
full day and a half in Cork. arrived earlier than expected day before last on a bus from Dublin, after one from Belfast. spent Sunday afternoon walking around the city — Beamish Distillery, St. Fin Barre’s cathedral, City Hall, Patrick Street and around. finally sorted meeting up with Nicolette & Kelly (they actually came down from Belfast by train yesterday, rather than Sunday), and had an amazing night’s sleep at the hostel in MacCurtain Street.
yesterday more walking around Cork City — the weather has been fantastic thus far! and then i took a bus out to Midelton to see the Jameson Distillery and the kitchy ‘Jameson Experience Midleton’. the distillery bit is quite interesting, but the tour is somewhat perfunctory, seems like it’s designed for the tourist who doesn’t much care about the history of the company or who has a limited understanding of the English language. the facility we toured, however, was in constant use from the time the complex was built in the 1840s (?) until 1975. the process has now been moved to a newer complex on the same sight, where all whiskey (except for that produced by Bushmills) is produced.
back in Cork, we went out for dinner at a restaurant down the road with a waterfall in the courtyard. very posh compared to where/what i’ve been eating so far! after sitting for a bit, we went to explore the city centre and ended up having some pints and participating in a pub quiz. (and ran into about a dozen students from USD, who are attending the University of Cork … wait, i thought i was in Ireland … ?)
today, picking up the car and heading north.
today was one for comparisons. after exploring the city centre this morning and popping in to the St. George’s Market, i took the bus out to Milltown Cemetery in the Falls Road, or the heart of Republican West Belfast. there is a memorial to volunteers who have died in action, accidentally, however, as well as one to the people who died in 1981 while on hunger strike protesting the fact the classification as ‘terrorists’ rather than political prisoners. later in the day, i took a bus up Shankill Road, which is the heart of Loyalist West Belfast. murals all over the place in both areas, which are divided by a metal fence called the ‘Peace Wall.’ also took a rather comprehensive walking tour of historic Belfast.
and now i’m out of internet time.
more to come … eventually. 🙂
survived my flights. the guy sitting next to me on the flight from ORD to FRA was Muslim and took time out and prayed twice during the flight. the Frankfort airport was unlike anything I’ve experienced in Europe before, but maybe I just don’t travel enough in Europe (many of the gates are just ‘gateways’ and you take a shuttle out on the tarmac to actually board the plane — more like what I experienced traveling to Venezuela).
took an earlier bus to Belfast, so I walked around the city centre while waiting to meet up with Nico. the City Hall is still under renovation, so there won’t be a tour tomorrow. the bus centre is behind the Hotel Europa, which is/was the most bombed hotel/building (the language is upstairs at the moment) in Europe during the Troubles. Wouldn’t necessarily know it now, though I didn’t go inside. the two French girls staying in the same room as me say that central Belfast is pretty standard as far as city centers go, and it’s once you get out west of the city that things get more interesting — Shankill Road, Sandy Row, etc. saw one Loyalist mural near the bus depot, and i’m planning to head out to Falls Road for a bit tomorrow.
went to the bus centre to meet up with Nico at the time the bus i was *supposed* to be on got in. waited about 50 minutes but she didn’t come, or i didn’t see her. caught a cab down here and booked a bed. the place is clean, but more ‘hotel-y’ than ‘hostel-y’, as the French girls observed. they spent 12 days traveling from Derry to Belfast by thumb and it sounds like they had a great time. not necessarily something that i’d ever want to do, but all the positive things they had to say about all the people they’ve met give me cause to think this will be a great two weeks.
hasta … ?
everything’s packed, the trash has been taken out, the dishes are all washed, all the power strips switched off and Allie will be by in just a bit to pick me up. this time tomorrow i will be in Belfast with Nicolette!
dunno if i’ll have time or inclination to post while i’m traveling … but in the interest of keeping those interested parties informed, i thought i’d give a stab at one of these for my travels. at the very least, look forward to an overview and pics once i’m back stateside.
hope you enjoy!