Saturday, August 3, 2013

That time we decided not to pay for anything: Galway

So, this is the reason that I've been AWOL for a month. Eleanor and I planned a while ago to go hitching around Ireland and France for part of the summer break (break for her, I still haven't started study!)

When I say planned to go hitching, that's it. We really didn't plan anything else. To the point that after we'd done the dramatic airport reunion at 7.30am in Dublin (I was one of the first off the plane so it was nice and awkward for everyone else as we kind of slammed into each other making odd excited noises) we looked at each other and just shrugged. We're lucky E even bothered to book the flights to France!

We decided after a very short discussion (mainly E suggesting and me agreeing) to head to Galway immediately and do Dublin on the way back. We caught a bus from the airport into the city, and then, after a quick breakfast, another bus towards the edge of the city.

We bought a vivid at a supermarket, which also kindly donated a wine box for use as a sign, and we were off.

Well, sort of. With hitching you always have a slight delay between the time you're ready and the time you actually start moving!

In the back of a van

We managed a tea stop.
The first thing we did upon arriving was head straight for a pub. This turned out the be our tactic for most of Ireland - before you judge, most pubs there have wifi, bathrooms and of course, alcohol and it's a good time to regroup and work out what we were going to do in each town. In this first instance it was because one of our rides had told us there was a Hurling game on at 4 (we arrived at 3.50pm).
Hurling is an almost exclusively Irish sport that's kind of a cross between lacrosse and something more violent than lacrosse. I don't know sports well enough to describe it so here's a video. Key point: it's very, very fun (massive concession for me).

E enjoying vegetable soup - which turned out to be a staple at Irish pubs - and a cider while watching the Hurling.
 We then explored Galway a bit and tried to suss out somewhere to sleep that night, mainly looking for a likely looking patch of grass.
One of the main streets.
 We popped down to the harbour and saw this fine example of seaworthiness.
The harbour

 E had a NZ flag sewn to her bag which, later that night, got a comment from a fellow Kiwi! She was fizzing with excitement as she'd spent the last month hitching in the Baltics hoping to find a Kiwi because of her patch.

The Spanish Arch
 We found a good looking spot a wee ways out of town and decided to stop searching and see what the nightlife had to offer.
E enjoying her first Irish Guinness - apparently they taste better in Ireland

Me pretending to drink her Guinness - I did manage to down one before we left.
 The pub we found ourselves in had 'trad' (traditional) music and one of the patrons got up to give us a show!

 We decided to swap venues and went for a wander, whereupon we got taken under the wing of some Irish lads. I think they mainly wanted to see if we could get into a club with our giant packs. We could and the club even let us check them at the coat check.

At the end of the night we asked them if they knew a good place to pitch a tent (never hurts to get advice from the locals) and were told not to be idiots and they had spare rooms (it really never hurts to ask the locals!) This happily ended up being a recurring theme on our trip.

So off we trundled (plodded really with our bags). We had a few more drinks at their house as shown by this series of photos...

Silly Kiwis - the Irish had to explain to us that of course you don't take down a Christmas tree - you'd just have to put it up again a year later!
Oh haiii

Failing at high fives!

The attack!

The revenge!
 The next day no one was up to much. The boys were true Irishmen and had no idea what to do in the abnormal heat (it was between 25-30 degrees basically ever day of our trip).

 We did manage to convince them to show us round a bit and they took us for a wander to see Oranmore Castle. The quickest route was a bit of an escapade!

This is probably our first tourist photo.

Eleanor shows great skill at wrangling Irishmen.
 After about 5 minutes it became apparent that the boys couldn't deal with the heat so we took refuge in some nearby trees... for about two hours. I lost a rock, paper, scissors tournament and got sent, under local supervision, to get supplies. This consisted of sandwiches, M&Ms and 'Buckfast' - a tonic wine, apparently made by monks, which is popular in Galway and has an amusing reputation which I won't repeat here. I actually rather liked it from the first which, according to the locals, is an odd reaction.

 We did eventually make it out into the sun and proceeded to laze about for another hour or so.

Yes, daisy chains were involved.
Eleanor conquered the buckfast.

 Conor (above) was the particular boy in whose house we were staying and that night he had to work at a community bar. We tagged along and took over the bar! (Not really... one can dream though)

The next day we finally escaped Galway and got back on the road. You'll find out where soon enough!

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