We woke up on Sunday feeling pretty good and decided to grab a bite to eat and hit the park before getting on the road to Galway. We went back to our de-facto-favorite area by the Hairy Lemon (anyone?), and had some breakfast at a place called the Busyfeet & Coco Cafe where I taught the little guy how to properly butter and jam a piece of toast.
Wishing that I could have paid in Bitcoin (I actually could have, had I any), we cut back across Grafton towards the St Stephen’s Green playground. We took the long way around, and as we strolled down a path that smelled of anis, we were stopped by a couple who asked if we were from Dublin and if we could help them with directions. This has been happening quite a bit actually. I suppose that sane people’s deductive reasoning abilities, combined with us schlepping a stroller around, would make them assume that we were just out for an afternoon walk, and not 3 days into our actual vacation. Perhaps the fact that I have a tendency to slip into accents doesn’t help when I’m more than willing to oblige their assumption, and give them directions…not wrong directions mind you, we have a SIM card for an old iPhone here so not only do we have Internet access for navigation, but we also have an actual phone number, and no you may not have it.
After the park, we returned to our hotel and caught a cab to our rental car place on the other side of Dublin. One of the things that I love about traveling is that at 33 (I know not old), I still get to try new things, take on new challenges, and experience different stuff. I’ve been to Europe now four times, with my third coming last summer in Spain, but I’ve never driven here. In fact, the first time I drove a car in another country was in January of this year and that was just Canada, which isn’t different at all…mostly.
After a brief…discussion…with the rental car agent, I began to mentally prepare myself for the next 3-4 hours which would involve sitting in the right side of a car not much bigger than a yoga-ball, driving on the left side of the road, watching for traffic from right, taking wide right turns, looking up and to my left for the rear view mirror, traveling at unfamiliar units of velocity on unfamiliar quantities of fuel for unfamiliar units of distance, navigating in unknown cities, going clockwise in roundabouts, making sure there was quality EDM on the radio, and trying to understand ridiculous European traffic signage, all while keeping my family safe and my child from waking up.
So I just did what any respectable Dad would do and became an expert. Immediately.
The drive to Galway was mostly on Interstate-like roads with names like M6 so there wasn’t much for site seeing. The country side did open up eventually though and it was nice to have scenery with separate fore, mid, and back grounds; in Florida you get foreground and horizon. We passed countless rock wall sheep & cow enclosures, a caravan of nomads (which we would come to learn is a thing in Ireland), and a bunch of other scenery that was quite picturesque, but nothing compared to what was to come…more on that later.
We arrived in Galway more or less on time with the aid of my expert navigator on the iPhone (story telling!) and made it to our B&B (Heron’s Rest) on Galway bay. We were greeted nicely, though it wasn’t the big “Irish welcome” we had read of. We placed our bags in our room and woke up our little champ of a sleeper. …maybe the bit about the welcome isn’t fair, they did set out some decanted port for us (me) to drink and had hot water ready for tea and coffee. There were also scones; and then there were less scones.
It was Sunday so we knew there wouldn’t be a whole lot going on, but we saddled up the stroller and headed into Galway’s city center to find Eyre Square, a big…you guessed it…park in the middle of the city where there is…you guessed it…a playground and…you didn’t guess it…a plaque to John F. Kennedy who everyone loves in Ireland (this makes me really happy that we watched the mini series called The Kennedy’s on Netflix a few years back because I know a few things most people don’t expect me to…it never ran in The States despite starring Katie Holmes, Greg Kin…well, Katie Holmes so who cares who else…but was widely popular here…wait what am I talking about…).
We passed through the main drag of bars and restaurants on a road that changes names 4 times and found the park. The playground left a bit to be desired (I know I know, ugh a free playground, #fml) so we just played on the grass for a half an hour or so to stretch our legs and get some energy out. We were still in the mood for some live music so we went back to the main drag, but it was pushing 9pm and there is a strict no kids in the bar…past 9…rule here so we were out of luck again on this.
We settled on dinner at a place called the Quay Street Kitchen, which from the outside (and on the inside for that matter) looked like a fancy grown up restaurant. The hostess assured us that “they love children” so we went in and took the seat by the door which was nice because we could still enjoy the brisk breeze coming off the bay, without having a shivering little boy.
This meal was fantastic. We started with a roasted goat cheese salad thing that couldn’t be profitable to make, and the waitress brought out some steamed sweet potatoes and milk for the little guy. For entrees we had a Fishmonger’s plate that had a bunch of different seafood (tuna, squid, clams, etc) in a red sauce with dill, and an order of fried pork belly over mash. She had wine, he had a local IPA, and we all danced the locally-sourced-sustainable-farm-to-table-chic-and-trendy-decor-with-chalkboard-menus jig all the way to a dessert of this whipped cheesecake thing that I wanted to vomit back onto my plate (in a good way…) and eat all over again (…see!). Not only was the food amazing, but the service was great and attentive, and they genuinely seemed to enjoy having the little guy there despite a few “moments”…in fact as we were leaving they were seating another couple from London who had an 8 month old. If you are ever in Galway, please give these people all your dinner monies.
In a satiated stupor, we came back to our place and hung out for a bit before putting everyone to bed. The room we are staying in doesn’t offer a cot or crib for the little guy so we improvised with a large drawer, some blankets, and very attentive and active listening skills.
Tomorrow we are planning to drive around Galway and Mayo counties to what there is to see.