Our first week in Ireland has been incredible. Candy discussed our first day or so here in the “Cruise Ends” post, but here is the rest of the week. We settled into our suite in the main building at St. Mary’s, unpacked our things, and had the chance to go to the local shopping center to get some items for our stay. I went on a four mile run in the second morning we were here to get a handle on Galway. Candy asked if I could pick up a converter for our US plugs when I was out, as well. We accidently blew our converter when trying to use our hair dryer from the US. So, off I went, passing by the Galway Cathedral, the local university (NUI Galway), as well as through the City Centre. The pictures here give you a glimpse of how amazing this city is. I was able to get some good pics on each of my runs this week; it sure helped me stay motivated to keep running on this trip! Here is a video Candy made that shows how we reach our suite in the college’s amazing Main Building.
On Tuesday, September 8th, we had the chance to rent a car from Enterprise (actually, one of our new friends who works at the school, Yvonne Hannagen, secured the rental for us…thanks, Yvonne!) and did a tour of the area around the Cliffs of Moher, roughly two hours away from Galway. We rented a Toyota Yaris, which in the US would be considered a very tiny car. Thank goodness it was tiny, because the roads were very small (video of what it’s like being a passenger). I started off the driving and took a crash course in the rental lot in driving a standard transmission after five years…with my left hand. It actually was not that tough, but the change in side of the road was slightly off-putting (I am still going to the wrong side of the vehicle when we get picked up). Candy and I took turns driving. We stopped along the scenic route to take photos (and make a quick video)…simply a wonderful area to visit! We also stopped and had lunch in the town of Doolin, just a short trip from the cliffs. We decided to go to a pub in Doolin called Gus O’Connor’s Pub and had some incredible food there (we are not fish people, but the cod was awesome!).
We headed from Doolin toward the cliffs. The pictures here show how incredible the Cliffs of Moher are, but I would encourage anyone to visit Ireland and see them (and everything else) for yourself. The highest point of the cliffs is 702 feet above sea level and you can see pretty much everything from up there, including the Aran Islands, Connemara (which everyone keeps telling us is the best place to visit in the area), and Galway Bay. We paid the €1 each to go up into O’Brien’s Tower, a viewing point for visitors for apparently hundreds of years. It was so windy up there, but well worth it!
We had a very interesting early morning on Thursday, September 10th. I was doing some much-needed (and, sadly, late) grading and Candy was doing some work on her computer around 2 am. We heard a loud bang outside our second floor window. We stopped what we were doing and asked “What was that?” We honestly did not know what could make that kind of sound, but were locked safely inside so we went back to work. 20 minutes later more sounds were heard and I decided to walk out of our door in the inside hallway with the only weapon I could muster (a Swiss Army knife) and found Jere, a young man who is asked to watch the building overnights when the school president is not around. He asked if we had heard the sound as well, and I replied that we had. He said that he thought there were some robbers in the building trying to rob the schools’ safe. We took a quick, but quiet, walk halfway down the stairs and he noticed that his belief was correct. We walked quietly back up the stairs and locked ourselves in our suite where Candy was awaiting. He had called the Garda (the Irish version of the police) and they showed up quickly. Jere then tossed our set of suite keys through the window down to the officers so they could get in. Jere would leave shortly thereafter to see what he could do to help the officers and reported about an hour later that the robbers had gotten away.
The next morning we woke up to find out that the robbers were professionals, had cut all of the wires outside to communications and destroyed the alarm system (which was the loud bang that we heard). They made a huge mess of the school’s systems and did some major damage to the doors of the school office. The ironic thing is that Candy had discussed briefly about going downstairs to play the grand piano on the first floor near the school office when the robbers would have been there. Thank God she did not go down…
On Thursday evening, I had the chance to run a workout with the high school-aged boys on Ciarán’s team at St. Marys’ as well as about four other players from a local club team. I thought it went well and I heard that some of the boys were sore. I know I was.
We had breakfast at the Murphy’s on Saturday morning and met Ronan Higgins, one of Ciarán’s former students and “surrogate son” in his own words, when Ronan picked us up at the school. After another wonderful meal, I went with Ciarán to watch his team scrimmage another team outside of Galway. Afterward, Candy and I walked up to the City Center again for a meal on Saturday night. We cannot get enough of this town.
On Sunday, we had a great meal again with the Murphy’s at a local restaurant before they generously took us to the bus station in Galway to make our trek to Dublin. Surprisingly enough, we only had two days of rain during our eight days in Galway and Sunday was one of them…and it came down. Our trip to Dublin was uneventful, but our hotel when we arrived there was not. We stayed at the Travelodge Dublin Airport South, a big mistake through one of the Hotwire “secret three-star specials.” It said it would be a Hilton or Holiday Inn hotel, but that certainly didn’t happen here. The hotel made Motel 6 look nice. You had to place the hotel key card in a wall slot to make the lights work in the room. It was the second Hotwire mistake we had made during this trip…there will not be a third.
We flew out to Nice on Sunday morning…more on our French Riviera trip in the next blog post. Hope you are enjoying the posts and pictures. We are having the trip of a lifetime (so far, at least!).