Tuesday, September 25, 2012

On to Ireland! Sept 23-24

Ashford Castle Cong Ireland
We left San Diego at 5:30 a.m. on Sunday morning. Of course, we didn’t sleep all that much anyway so the long anticipated journey finally began. Of course, Aer Lingus “owned” our tickets so check in was a bit of a pain through United Airlines and took about a half an hour to straighten out.

I want to get some of the passenger complaints out of the way first for anyone traveling on these airlines since much has changed in the year since we traveled last. I find it more than interesting that United advertises “…more leg room” because unless you are an leprechaun I surely did not see it. We felt it of course, because you feel like a mummy with your legs contorted.

What I really thought was a disaster is that United now has what they euphemistically call snacks on board. There were three, the Tapa, Classic and I can’t remember the third. I opted for the Tapas and Diana the Classic. They are $7.40 each and pretty much consist of prepackaged junk food. I now know how United is recovering from their economic woes. Be forewarned. Unless you really crave really bad food don’t even think about these snacks.
No matter how hard we tried,
this position was unobtainable
Aer Lingus on the other hand, had exceptionally good airline food but the leg room was equally short. Incidentally, a word to Aer Lingus and their partner United. If you are going to show the obligatory emergency procedures (which includes the “duck and cover crash landing” video) it would be incredibly thoughtful if there was actually room to bend over. I am serious, if the Airbus 330 went down, passengers would be stuck in the upright and locked position.

Ok. That all being said, we arrived in Dublin airport in the morning and guess what? Rain. Even the Irish consider this desperate weather. We rented a car and Diana drove us to our first destination, Galway on the left, of course.
The rental rate is 17 Euro a day and insurance is 37 Euro a day! (Complimentary insurance from the credit card companies is non existent, we had called to verify.) So, if you plan on driving in Ireland, plan on high insurance rates. (Do the Irish drive that badly? Apparently.)

I must say getting used to the M50 N6, M6 designations are a bit unnerving but we soon found ourselves in Galway. There is a huge competition going on here, hurling games and the town is abuzz with sports fans. (As near as I can tell, hurling is something like Lacrosse).

 The town is full of B&B’s and there are plenty of vacancies, but we wanted to be in the center of town so we checked into the Radisson. The Radisson is a very nicely appointed modern hotel and at 139 Euro a night quite nice quarters.

We napped for a few hours and then headed for the center of Galway around 8 in the evening. Galway’s city center is replete with pubs, restaurants, stores and people (even on this very rainy Monday evening) are strolling the area. Did I mention pubs? Some are stumbling already from one too many porters.
We stopped in a local pub for dinner and decided a good start for our first Irish evening would be Shepherd’s Pie, a Guiness and (for Diana) a Heineken. Justice, it isn’t our Sheperd’s Pie but it was yummy. They grind the beef, put in green onions and peas and top with mashed potatoes and gravy with a side of chips.
The pub was hosting traditional Irish music complete with guitar, banjo (we will ignore the fact that the banjo is a distinctly America invention), bodhrun, dancers and wonderful Irish tunes. You can see the pictures we did of our first night here.

Tomorrow we are driving around Galway Bay and points north. Our first destination (which could change) is Connaught and Connemara (near the town of Cong where the John Wayne classic “The Quiet Man” was filmed. And our midnight Concierge, Michael, told us about a dirt road on the way to Connaught where thousands of Irish died during the potato famine and are buried there. Even the locals are unaware of the graves according to Michael as there are no markers or memorials as the Irsish do not wish to remember the deaths.

And by the way, rain is predicted for tomorrow. Imagine that!

Incidentally, as a first night footnote, to connect to the hotel internet, one has to enter his room number and last name, After several failed attempts, I called the desk to find out that my registration is not Smith but O’Smith. Too funny.


  1. PEAS?! The NERVE! LOL ;) Don't worry, I'll make you REAL Shepherds Pie when you get home. HAHA

    Have a great time in the Rain...drink more Guinness!!

    Love you!

    1. well, today as we drove the Ring of Kerry I found a passable sheperd's pie with cheese, onions and bell peppers. No crust however, but I think as we dwell closer to the heartland, we will find better sheperd's pies.
      Btw. Do NOT order a Caeser's salad in Ireland. It was totally inedible. But, the Irish humor and hospitality more than makes up for it...almost.

  2. looks like you guys are having too much fun!!!!
    Hurry up and post more!

  3. BTW, i hope you got a pic of a leprechaun for Sami!

    1. Actually, we had a discussion last night about leprechauns. Diana claims she is of Irish heritage but denies the existence of leprechauns. I verified this with an Irish waitress who claims she isn't quite sure about their existence. Well, she obviously is not Irish to question the existence of the little people!