Friday morning; our time in Ireland is nearly at an end, and I must say we have thoroughly enjoyed our short tour around the country. It has left us eager to come back and sample more of the wonderful and diverse sights and sounds on offer.
For our last day, we will visit Galway, before heading back to Dublin, with an overnight stop in Athlone.
After another nice breakfast, we head off in the warm sunshine back towards Galway. Last year I happened to see a TV programme with shots inside Galway cathedral and really wanted to visit, so that was my first destination in the Sat Nav.
On the way out of Porta Carron we spotted a sign for Aughnanure Castle, which had received some good write ups, so it only seemed sensible to call in and have a look. It is a short, somewhat undulating path from the car park to the castle, down the side of a picturesque river, to the entrance to the castle. There was an entry fee and as we only intended a flying visit, we decided not to pay to enter the main castle, and instead took in the sights outside. Maybe next time.
It was a short 30 minute journey back in to Galway, the Cathedral was easy to find and there was ample parking even though a service was in progress. I imagine the place is rammed when it is full.
The cathedral is truly spectacular inside, and there was an interesting exhibition detailing its construction. There are many areas to visit and as always with such establishments, there is a serene and respectful quietness about the place, despite the number of visitors.
We have visited one or two cathedrals over the years, and Galway is certainly one to put on your visit list.
(You can see a lot more of the inside of the cathedral on our youtube channel).
From the Cathedral its just a short hop to the town centre, and after a quick drive down the promenade we parked up and wandered down the streets of Galway, a beautiful little seaside town that is very welcoming.
After topping up the souvenirs we finished off our stay in Galway with a fish and chip lunch in the renowned McDonagh’s fish bar on the end of Quay St before hitting the road again.
A hour later and we are pulling into Athlone town, and driving straight past the car park of the Radisson Blu Hotel.
Because our next port of call was an essential part of our friends trip – Tesco.
We spent an amusing half hour while Joe and Renata stocked up on their favourites not available in their home town – Earl grey tea, Marmite, and loads of other stuff.
I have to say I almost wet myself when they completely cleared the shelf of Earl Grey. How they were going to get it all back with their small luggage allowance was beyond me!
It was always my intention that after multiple b&b’s that I would treat the ladies to a luxury hotel stay on our last night.
I have to say I was thoroughly disappointed.
While our room was OK (we had paid extra for a River view), unfortunately Joe and Renata had ended up with a car park view, and a noisy one at that, especially in the early hours. Check-in and check-out were depressingly slow, and while the bar had an extensive menu, the main dining room’s choice was minimal by comparison, and it was hard to find something that I actually felt like eating.
Needless to say, Radisson wont be on our list of hotel chains to re-visit.
Although I had fancied a walk around town in the evening, based on what I could see on google maps, the actual walking distances seemed greater in real life, and a quick shower of rain convinced us to instead have dinner in the hotel and then get an early night, ready for the long ride home the following morning.
But to finish the night off I had one final surprise for them. Many years ago, while on a business trip with Joe, he produced a PowerPoint presentation of his life story – a fascinating incite into his life in communist Czechoslovakia, his childhood, then having to escape when the Russian’s moved in, and the years that followed in the UK where he learned his trade as a groundsman.
Since that time we have both started writing our memoirs in earnest – Joe on his computer, in book form, and myself digitally, on the pages of my journal.
So unbeknown to Sue I had pieced together my own PowerPoint life story, specifically to show to Renata and Joe on our last night. So over drinks in the bar , our own rendition started from early childhood all the way through to present day, and we had to smile when a woman on the opposite table came across to us at the end and said “I’ve been listening to your life story and was amazed that you had photographs documenting everything, and it brought a tear to my eye that you have so many lovely memories” She thought it was very special and congratulated us. What a nice thing to say.
Actually, while writing my own life story, I’ve realised just how many photos over the years have gone astray. And yet, at the last count, we still have over 25,000 images to our name, and hours of old video footage still to edit up and preserve for posterity.
To be continued…