It is so nice to be nice and have others be nice to you. If you share this thought, come to Ireland! This has been such a wonderful day and one much needed. When we came to Galway, we had no plans--we weren't even sure why we were here except that everyone who has travelled in Ireland said, "You must go to Galway!" So we did and never have we been so glad for random advice.
First of all, the B&B we are staying in, Cappa Veagh." was written up everywhere as having two of the nicest Inn keepers in the world. Now, I haven't been around the world, but Catherine and Patrick bend themselves into pretzels to accommodate their guests. So, until I see and hear differently, I nominate them into our personal Innkeepers I Would Like to Adopt Us Hall of Fame.
Today, between serving breakfast and making sure that everyone was oriented and set for their day's travels, Patrick mapped us out a wonderful route for a day trip, We began by driving into Galway City-Patrick even told us a place to park that is known mostly to locals-and we wandered down and around Shop Street
amid the buskers and hustlers, the locals, the strangers, and the very, very strange. The local market was underway and we longed to have a place to go back to where we could cook up the incredibly fresh fish and gorgeous veggies. We left the market and wandered down to the river and the Spanish Arches. Way back when, the Spaniards were only allowed to walk around in a circumscribed area of the port town of Galway. By then we were cold and wet again, so we started the second part of Patrick's wonderful day trip.
We left Galway City and headed out north to Headron where we actually managed to find the Ross Elliry Priory. Even in a downpour and driving winds (talking 9 degrees C here) it was magnificent. We were the only people tin the middle of the ruins ducking our quiet way through Gothic arches and portals. But even beauty and awe cannot override sheer cold and wet, so we drove on in a heated car to Cong Village and Abbey. This is a gorgeous drive of rolling hills, dangerously picturesque narrow roads lined by rock walls, and suddenly arising breath-taking vistas. Cong Village in
itself could be a picture postcard calendar and probably is. However, basic necessity settled in and food, drink, and a WC were definitely in order before picturesqueness could be fully appreciated. We chose a quiet pub that advertised seafood chowder and settled into a quiet corner, when suddenly, wave upon wave of Irish families descended upon us. Turns out we had stumbled into the middle of a gathering to celebrate a First Communion. How is it we have such great timing?
We roamed around Cong Village --actually two shops and eight pubs--and then went to the Abbey. It too, is a ruin, but the piece de resistance is the garden and nature trail. I wish I had an audio recording of the calls of the songbirds, the rush of the river, and words to describe the prehistoric beauty of the woods we traveled through--think Jurassic Park only real and much, much better....Have I told you how the song birds in England and Ireland make our song birds sound like little tweeters? Never have I heard such lusty, clear and beautiful bird calls as I did today in the Cong Abbey gardens. To top all of this gorgeousness off, the
monks, probably in the 14th century, built a fishing house over the river which still stands. Two young boys were making good use of it, casting for fish from the platform. I suddenly wanted, with all my heart, to be a 13 year old Irish boy with a fishing rod on a good river and a Medieval fishing house.
By now we had walked several miles in the cold and driving rain and were feeling weathered, so we completed the rest of our tour from the warm and sheltered recess of our Opel...okay, we wimped out--but we are allowed. Pat had given us a route that travelled around the Lough (waters edge of the loch) and brought us back to Salthill and our wonderful B and B.
We decided to return to The Black Cat Restaurant for an encore dinner--one can only handle so many pub grub meals and keep indigestion at bay--and had yet another amazing gastronomic experience. One of the young servers told us that the chef always wanted to know if anyone had feed-back about the food he prepared for his guests....isn't that lovely? So we heaped accolades and were rewarded by a surprise cream,
espresso and caramel demi-dessert.
Then as we were walking back to our "home" we stopped to allow an old woman and her daughter to carefully maneuver the crowded sidewalk. The daughter looked at us and thanked us and then the old woman stopped, looked at us with great intensity, and thanked us and wished us a good evening. "it's nice out tonight, isn't it?" she asked.
Yes, it is. It is very, very, nice out tonight.
Tomorrow we leave early to catch the ferry for Inishmore--we may not have internet connection until Monday. I will not allow John to take any pictures of me--already I am wearing five layers of clothing to try to stay warm--I am planning on seven layers for tomorrow as we perch ourselves in a stone building on an island in the North Atlantic. I shall look like a snowman..oh well....
Love to you all
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