Saturday, August 27, 2022

Ninety Minutes in Galway & Strangers on a Train to Dublin

When I tell friends about my trip to Ireland, many ask, "Did you go to Galway? Didn't you love Galway? I loved it!" Not wanting to disappoint my enthusiastic friends, I smile and nod, and let them gush over their time in Galway. Truthfully, our tour group spent a little less than ninety minutes in Galway before we had to hop on a train to Dublin. We were set loose with the only direction to meet our tour leader outside of the train station at an appointed time. Left to our own devices, Chad and I walked very quickly a few blocks radius around the train station, snapping photos of anything that looked important or charming. We didn't spend any time in the local pubs. We didn't soak in the ambiance. We didn't chat up any locals. We just hurried through the city center. 

A cute pub that we didn't enter

I don't know, some church or maybe a prison?

Oscar Wilde statue

Galway Hooker Monument (I looked it up later.)

Some other cute bar that we also didn't enter

Walking ahead of me is Chris, an Englishman with lots of photos of his grandkids.

Chad and I made it to the train station on time. We took the modern, bland, commuter train to Dublin. We had to chat with some American tourist randos who sat with us on the train. I should really get better about putting in earphones and staring moodily out the window. Chad and I are both cursed with the people-pleaser, try-hard genes, and are usually too polite for our own good. At this point in our trip, I was happy to chat with most of the members of our own tour group, but I really didn't want to expend the emotional energy to feign interest for other American tourist strangers. On the train near us, there was also a group of young women in their best and brightest going out clothes, hairdos, and extensive makeup. They were headed to a concert in Dublin by Irish rock band The Script. They were giddy with excitement, and so cute with anticipation of their first pandemic era concert. 

In Dublin, our group tried to check in at our next hotel, but none of our rooms were ready. Our tour leader, Richard, sat in the hotel lobby guarding luggage for several hours while the rest of us ventured out for some free time in Dublin. Chad and I walked with Trish and Reg (two of our favorite tour elders) to Guinness Storehouse for respective pre-booked self-guided tours. The route covered 2.9 km/1.8 miles. Trish kept a brisk pace with me. Reg started to lag near the end, and Chad hung back with him. 

Trish told me that she caught some man checking me out. I laughed and explained that I'm happily married, way too old for that young man, and that he probably wasn't even looking at me. Then Trish asked, "So is Chad older than you?" 
I replied, "No. I'm actually older. I robbed the cradle by two years." 
Trish looked impressed and proclaimed, "He's your toy-boy! Well done!" Trish told me that her daughter is a a few years older than I am, and said conspiratorially, "So I could be your mum." I think of Trish more like my fun, cheeky, British aunt who can walk really fast.

Guinness Storehouse is like Disneyland for all things beer production and distribution. It gets crowded in some sections, especially in the 360 degree panoramic bar on the top floor. I don't like the taste of Guinness beer. Blech. But I enjoyed the whole Guinness Storehouse experience. If you're a tourist in Dublin, go to Guinness Storehouse. Book a timed entry online beforehand to avoid long lines. 

Our hotel in Dublin was the Belvedere Hotel. This hotel looks deceptively posh in the lobby with crystal bedazzled light fixtures and a sparkly bar just off the lobby. However, the hotel seems like two old buildings were joined into one bigger building with split-levels, meandering hallways, a labyrinthine system of short staircases, and two elevators for two separate wings of the hotel. We got lost a few times. There was no central air-conditioning in the hotel. Chad and I borrowed a fan from the front desk, opened the windows a smidge at night, and slept well. The bathroom was very modern with a walk in shower partitioned off by a clear glass wall. Unfortunately, the shower drain couldn't keep up with the healthy water pressure. Each time Chad or I showered a mini flood formed all over the bathroom floor. On the bright side, the view from of our hotel room windows was charmingly Irish with row houses featuring colorful entry doors.

The vegetarian option for dinner at Belvedere Hotel was a delicious and light pasta dish. Finally, something other than veg curry! After dinner, many of our tour elders headed out to Dublin pubs for carousing and singalongs. Chad and I chose sleep, because we had a full day of Dublin sightseeing ahead of us. 

If you're not entirely sick of my Irish travelogue yet, come back next week for a final full day in Dublin. There's a lot of ground to cover still!