We’re in a refugee camp, or at least that’s what it feels like. My disappointment with Galway is great. I’ve wanted to see it, thinking this university town of 65,000 would feel like Freiburg in Germany; or at least have a good feel. It doesn’t. It is jam packed with tourists. If there are any locals, they are the bartenders and tourist shopkeepers. Our campground is a joke. The price of €30 is obscene. The owner has packed as many people in as he can. On top of that, there are two enormous buses filled to capacity with campers who are in tents. There must be at least 500 people here to use SIX showers (3 each for men and women) that don’t even open until 8 am. When I questioned that, the owner said, “You’re on vacation, sleep in.” So there we are, lying in bed, watching the clock. I guess we’re not on vacation. We’re living and traveling. Big difference.
We managed to get showers (€1 each on top of the €30) then scurried back to Homer (if you can find him that is) passing what looked like a separate community doing hand laundry in all the bathroom sinks (not allowed, although I’ve been known to do it, too, when nothing else is available). There were so many clothes hanging from every possible portion of the toilet block it looked like a commercial business. Chuck complained about the dishwashing area (only two sinks available for this massive population) because no one is cleaning up after themselves—bits of food left behind and nowhere to put it.
That’s the negative. We did have a reasonable day yesterday. We do have a nice spot with a view of the water and mountains. But, I can read the magazine the woman next door is looking at inside her camper! It was raining, of course, so we suited up in our waterproof gear. We also packed a backpack with our computer in case we found a pub with WiFi. Naturally, there is no Internet access here at the campground, Salthill Caravan Park. Chuck put on one of our €1 waterproof ponchos to protect the electronics inside the backpack and off we went to catch the 12:35 bus. It arrived at 12:52 in the pouring rain. We have since learned that the buses run on their own time. Schedules don’t seem to mean much.
Chuck always blends in so well. No one would suspect he’s a tourist.
The ride was good, the bus driver friendly and helpful, and we found our way to the TI at Eyre Square in the center of town with no problem. However, we joined the throngs of people wielding umbrellas outside. The information people are inside, warm and cozy, while we talk to them through a window from the outside. I couldn’t hear a word the woman was saying with all the noise outside. I literally had to stick my head into the little window if I wanted to understand anything. She wasn’t particularly helpful and told us that the walking tour in Rick’s book didn’t exist anymore. OK. We asked if there was any kind of walking tour. They seemed surprised that we would want to do this in the rain. But when does it ever stop? They did call someone for us, but he told them to call back at 3 pm and if it wasn’t raining, maybe he’d do it.
We went in search of a WiFi pub, which we found: O’Connells. The bartender couldn’t have been nicer. Free WiFi and he told us we didn’t even have to buy anything. We did of course: one Guinness for Chuck and a Smithwick for me. Smithwick has been recommended to us by several people. I liked it. We got Chuck’s computer set up but could not get a signal. The bartender reset the modem twice and even called someone to try to get it going for us. No luck. However, the bartender’s computer worked fine, so he handed it over and we were able to upload our blog post with no problems.
We walked back over to the TI where they called about a walking tour and within a few minutes, Micheal Kelly (pronounced Maheel) showed up. For €10 each, he walked us around town for two hours showing us various points of historical interest. Our first stop was to the new, modern shopping center so he could show us the remains of the wall that once enclosed the town built by the conquering Normans in 1270.
This is the Lynch Castle where, so the story goes, there was a fire and a pet monkey grabbed the baby, taking him up to the roof and saving his life. The statue commemorates this.
This is the home of Nora Barnacle, who married James Joyce.
In the 15th century, the mayor, one of the Lynch tribe, condemned his son to death for the murder of a Spaniard. When no one in town could be found to hang the popular boy, the dad—who loved justice more than his son—did it himself. This was the spot.
We said goodbye to Micheal after asking which pubs had good food and music. He directed us to two: Tig Coili and Taaffe’s. We went into Taaffe’s but only used the WCs since it was packed and only served bar food. We eventually found a place called The Front Door Bar where I had the best seafood chowder in my life and Chuck enjoyed the beef and Guinness stew.
We walked back to Taaffe’s since Tig Coili had a crowd spilling outside. The music was great but standing was not what we had in mind so we took off for the bus, waiting 30 minutes or so. The bus driver was once again very helpful and told us he would let us know when we got to our stop. We made it home just as the rain began pouring….again.
If you can see the mountains, it’s going to rain. If you can’t see them, it’s raining. ~ Irish Saying