"One of the greatest things in human life is the ability to make plans. Even if they never come true - the joy of anticipation is irrevocably yours. That way one can live many more than just one life."

Maria Trapp-The Story of the Trapp Family Singers - Ch. 12 p. 4

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”

- St. Augustine

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Galway Bay

Hmmm….well, you know how Galway Girl has been my ringtone for about the last year? One would think I would love Galway Bay, wouldn’t you? So far – not so much.

We left Ashley Park this morning around 10:30am after reorganizing our luggage (only 2 more days!) and headed off to Clonmacnoise. Clonmacnoise is one of the two great monastic centers of learning and art in Ireland and I had no hopes that we’d have time to get to it. However, since we were leaving Ashley House a day early, it turned out we could fit it in.

Even though today was the most rain we’ve seen on our whole trip, we were quite glad we went. It had a great interpretive center and it was a beautiful and interesting site. It’s nice to say we saw both the major monastic centers of Ireland – Glendalough and Clonmacnoise.

From there we made a plan to head to Galway and spend two nights at whatever B&B we could find to take us in while we explored Connemara and the Cliffs of Moher. It was only an hour from Clonmacnoise. This would give us time to shop today in Galway and do scenic drives after church on Sunday so that we wouldn’t need to be doing any last minute souveniring on the Lord’s Day. 

Well, little did either of us know, Galway is one of the big cities of Ireland. It always seemed to me like a quaint, historic artsy town in the books I had read. We spent more time driving around looking for lunch (at 4:00pm) and somewhere to sleep than we did getting from Clonmacnoise to Galway. Not exactly a great start. Also, it was blowing up a hurricane and pouring rain, so the beauty of the place was a little lost on us. 

Finally, after stopping in two places and not finding lodging and spending an hour just getting in and out of McDonalds, in pure frustration we gave up, parked the car and did our shopping. We did find the things we were looking for, almost. Is it bad I’ve bought Christian two gifts and Jon none? Sorry Jon, I couldn’t help it. We won’t come home empty handed, I promise!

By the time we finished our shopping the weather was starting to clear up. We hustled back to our car as it was going on 6:30pm and we still didn’t know where we were sleeping. Aren’t you proud of me? This is vacationing by the seat-of-your-pants. Canceling all our plans and just driving until we find somewhere to sleep – so not my style.

I have been wondering, though, if it would be a fun way to see Ireland. Just drive around from place to place, take as many rabbit trails as you want, and sleep at one of the millions of B&B’s lining every roadway. All along the way, from town to town we’ve seen hundreds of brown directional signs telling us of historical and cultural treasures just around this or that corner. If we didn’t have to get to our next destination, there was so much more to see!

Well, it turns out today confirmed that I am not a seat-of-your-pants traveler. We spent hours driving around in traffic, not knowing where to go, what to see or what to even look for. Providentially we’ve landed in a very nice B&B right on the bay with a view to the ocean and the Aran Islands. Lovely! Not so lovely was wasting half a day cooped up in the car finding food and lodging on our last weekend in Ireland. Planning ahead is for me. If I hadn’t had a destination in mind everyday, I may have followed more rabbit trails. However, we wouldn’t have seen as much. We would’ve spent way more of our time just finding a place to stop AND having to get to the next destination made us see more destinations. You could spend 18 days in any one of the many lovely towns we’ve stopped in. We never would have gotten in as much as we have if we didn’t have to move on to the next thing and so far Galway Bay is the only thing I would’ve happily missed!

So today I learned that I am really pleased with our trip plans. Nearly everything has gone so well and we saw just what we wanted. The only thing I can think of I would’ve changed would’ve been to stay one more night in Kenmare in Co. Kerry because that area was the most beautiful to both of us. But, not knowing we’d have an extra night to spare because of Ashley House, I can only say that in hindsight. Everything else has been just right. God is good.

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