I arrived in Galway the day before last; the train ride went smoothly and in 2 hours and 40 minutes, I was here (“isn’t it incredible?” as Alexander Davies would say)! I met a lovely elderly couple who are from Galway — when I told them about Dublin, they said that they loved Galway and couldn’t imagine living anywhere else 🙂 The gentleman talked to me for a long time; he thought I was a little nuts to quit my job and move here (due to the recession) and he explained to me that elderly people get to travel for free within Ireland! How amazing is that? They both took care of me when I got off the train by showing me where to go to find out what city bus to take; it was a good indicator of how friendly people are here!
I was quite tired by the time I arrived as I had a sleepless night the day before (too many things, good and bad, rushing through my head) so I headed to my b&b straight away. I once again felt brave enough to take a city bus and asked the driver to let me off at my stop but he forgot — oops! But no worries, luckily the route is a loop so he got me on the way back (he felt so bad the poor thing) so the ride took me 40 minutes instead of 10! When I arrived here I was so very warmly greeted by my hosts; it felt so good to feel welcomed, I missed that feeling…My room is really nice and clean and I feel like I’m staying in a friend’s house! I decided to head out to a hotel just down the road for supper as I had no energy to go back to the city centre (a 25 minutes walk).
Yesterday morning I was served a delicious breakfast: I could have as much fresh fruit as I wanted, yogourt, cereal, juice, coffee and then I had a choice of hot breakfasts. Now I have been very adventurous thus far but I must admit that I am not adventurous enough to go for a full Irish breakfast (black pudding scares me) so I went for scrambled eggs, toast and rashers. I ate enough so as not to need a lunch, which is good because this country is soooo expensive!! Much more expensive than the UK, that’s for sure. I told my hosts about my desire to search for a flat here and they were super helpful! They took the time to tell me about the best neighbourhoods (they say the east end is better than the west end) and explained to me that they are divided by parish; then they showed me the parishes that are closest to the city centre! I would have NEVER received this kind of help from a hotel, that’s for sure.
I headed out to the city centre on foot with my camera and a wee map and no precise plan in mind; just the way I like it! The first thing I noticed as I strolled down the streets was that people here don’t bump into you like they do in Dublin — I was happy to have my personal space back! The streets are busy but not hectic and there far more Irish people here — and most importantly, people are friendly!! Yipppeeee! I love happy, friendly people! I felt really safe (Galway has the lowest crime rate in Ireland) walking down the lovely, colourful streets.
The first thing of interest I came across was a statue in memory of the Magdalen Women: http://www.netreach.net/~steed/magdalen.html
It just occurred to me now that I had seen the movie The Magdalene Sisters when in came out in 2002 (I recommend seeing it)…I found the sculpture to be powerful as is the poem Make Visible The Tree, written in 1990 when the laundry was demolished.
Make Visible The Tree
By Patricia Burke Brogan
This is the Place of Betrayal.
Roll back the stones
behind madonna blue walls.
Make visible the tree.
Above percussion of engines
from gloom of catacombs,
through a glaze of prayer,
stumble of chanting,
make visible the tree,
its branches ragged
with washed-out linens
of a bleached out shroud.
In this shattered landscape,
of sulphur-yellow bulldozers
slice through wombs
of blood-soaked generations.
This is the place where Veronica,
stares and stares
at a blank towel
I must say that I have had my share of bad luck in my life, but I feel very fortunate right now to be experiencing this — I am discovering so many beautiful things and meeting such kind people. Even when things have been rough (and trust me, there are things I’m not covering here as I prefer to keep them to myself…), I have been learning a lot about the culture as well as learning a lot about myself. This year will be a year of change for me and I want to accomplish many things — I want to get healthier, read, draw and paint more, learn Irish Gaelic (I have already found a very inexpensive course!! https://cnag.ie/index.php?page=course&action=view&course_id=60&lang=en) and of course travel loads!!! I still can’t believe that I have the courage to travel by myself, I never would have thought I could do this! I have always been afraid of the unknown; it is just in the past three years really that I have started gaining more and more confidence.
OK done with the sidebar 😉
I carried on with my walk and thought this was lovely and so very Irish:
I also came accross my second Canadian flag!
It really is a pretty little place:
Oh, I forgot to mention that it was a warm, humid and very sunny day (as was today)! In fact, I’ve seen very little rain since I landed in Ireland!
What’s this you say? Why, a guy with a leopard print in his hair of course! So very, very wrong, yet fascinating…
Socks and sandles are wrong…but this man was so cute that I figure it’s ok, right?
Then I came across the Spanish Arch (a misnomer apparently, as there is no proven association between the Spanish in Galway — it used to be called the Blind Arch), which was built in 1584. Inside one of the arches you can see a 1602 fireplace bearing that bears the Lynch coart of arms.
Then, I came to the Long Walk, where you can see the river Corrib, which flows into the Atlantic Ocean here. It was so very beautiful!! There were lots of swans and other birds, it felt really good to sit by the water and think.
There was a really cool building nearby that was sort of falling to pieces, but that had been painted in a very interesting way!
Ok, I must stop my little tour here as it’s 1:00 a.m. and I am a very tired woman! Before I go, let me just give you a little taste of today: I loved Galway so much yesterday that I decided to stay! I went to visit 3 flats today, none of which I wanted. It is VERY difficult to find a studio here (there are loads in Dublin) so I’m not sure I will manage but I do have some visits lined up for tomorrow so fingers crossed!
More to come about Galway (and I have yet to finish England and Dublin!!) — blogging takes time folks!