I wrote this Friday afternoon, the last day of the cruise:
Friday already? It’s so hard to believe that we have reached the last full day of our cruise! This was such a fun, laidback week and we don’t want it to end. We decided to make the day one of rest and onboard enjoyment, so we slept in a little, ate breakfast at the Lido, then made our way to the Crow’s Nest for a quick game of bingo…we were two numbers away from winning a free cruise! 🙁
After the disappointment of losing (haha), we went down to Deck 6 where the outside walkaround area is, and joined several other fellow cruisers reclining in the wooden steamer chairs lining the deck. Before long, we realized that Rose and Eddie were just down the way from us, so we moved to join them and had another great chat over the next few hours. We are meeting up for dinner in the Ryndam dining room tonight, and then will likely attend the final show, which is a “Dancing with the Stars” themed show featuring the Holland America cast dancers as well as some of the passengers who have been taking dance lessons with the cast periodically this week. (We missed the show because we were deep in conversation and actually shut down the dining room before heading off to the piano bar to hang out.)
Then it will be back to the room to pack our bags, because they must be outside our door before midnight since we have the early disembarkation (7:30am—ugh!) in the morning. One of the great parts about today was tracking down our two favorite dining room stewards, Marihot (pronounced like Marriott, photo of this going-places future hotelier below) and Agus, to thank them for their brilliant service and wish them great future success in their careers and families. And also our stateroom stewards Tri and Zani (photo of these amazing guys below), who kept our room spotless and always made time to say hello to us in the hallway and out in the various villages. Great guys who are sacrificing much to make better lives for themselves, their wives, and families!
We were up late that night after finishing our packing, as Tim graded and we finalized our travel details for the next day.
Saturday (9.5.15) morning, we were up extra early in order to try to catch Agus, because we hadn’t found him on Friday. Then our group (Black 2) was called for disembarkation, so we made our way to the gangway for the final time (sad!) and soon found ourselves on the bus to Heathrow. At 10:30am, two hours later, we were at Heathrow and preparing to wait for our 7pm flight. Yes, a long time at the airport! It worked out great, though, because another of Tim’s buddies from RLBC, Andrew Davis, was able to meet us there for lunch. We had a great time and yet another great conversation over the next 4 hours. Then it was on to our gate and a quick flight back to Dublin. No hangar fires this time! 🙂
We waited for an hour to take the 9:45pm GoBus from the airport to Galway. I fell asleep pretty quickly, and Tim surfed most of the 3-hour trip. We arrived at the Galway bus station and shortly thereafter a tall man strode toward us…finally we were connected with Ciarán (pronounced Keer-uhn) Murphy! After greeting us, he grabbed my suitcase and moved off toward his car at Mach 1 speed. This guy can MOVE! And he has been so kind to us! That night, even though it was late and he had no doubt had a long day, he drove us to his home and prepared a quick meal for us, then delivered us to our home-away-from-home in Ireland: St. Mary’s College. It’s an all-boys Catholic school, and we are staying in a suite in the main building, which was built 100 years ago. Here’s a little video of what we see when we navigate to our apartment (we’re still getting settled–please don’t judge!).
Last Sunday, Ciarán picked us up and took us to his home, where his lovely wife
Kathleen Caitlín had prepared a wonderful home-cooked meal. It happened to be the day of the All-Ireland Hurling Championship and so we got a quick lesson on how the game is played and then watched the minors (under 18) play (Galway won!) and part of the seniors (over 18) match. Ciarán took us down to the River Corrib to show us where he enjoys walking and cycling, and there we saw an old castle ruin–stunning! It was like no big deal. Just there on the riverbank, and another ruin down the way. For us Americans and our different understanding of what is old, it was amazing! Later on, Kathleen Caitlín drove us to the store to get a few things and before we knew it we were back at the Murphys for an excellent dinner! We feel very well-cared for, particularly by the Murphys…what great people! All the people we have met have been so friendly and we are falling in love with them and with Galway.
Tim or I will soon catch you up with the events of the past week, including the excitement of Wednesday night. Until then, enjoy the photos.