Tuesday morning. The world is quiet. All the drunken Germans and a drunken American lay in their beds sleeping soundly. They have no idea what their travels have in store for them yet. Some good, some bad, and some motherfracking ridiculous.
I forgot to buy breakfast at the supermarket before bed Monday night so I found some free porridge and just ate an enormous bowl of it with cocoa powder and tea (surprisingly good?). My sore throat was pretty bad specifically because I’d been singing so loudly the previous night and because that Australian guy had bought me some whiskey, but it didn’t phase me. Hot water, lemon, lemsip (theraflu), done. Tom, the Canadian, and Valerie, one of the German girls, had decided to travel together after meeting in Dublin and they offered me a ride to the Cliffs of Moher with them since there was a bus that left from there in the evening I could catch to get to Galway (and subsequently catch my Wednesday morning bus to the airport and fly to Milan). I originally thought I wouldn’t have time to see the Cliffs, so suddenly having the opportunity was perfect! We loaded up our stuff into their rental car and made our way out to the cliffs a couple hours away.
Limerick was one of our short stops on the way up to Doolin, the city close to the Cliffs. Limerick is described varyingly by different Irish people, but most concur it’s gross and not a place they’d want to live. My impression of Limerick is that it’s a smaller version of St. Louis with nicer people but with a dreary, decidedly unfriendly city-esque atmosphere. We stopped for food at a cafe (spelled caffe there) and continued on our way.
After some map trouble and confusing roundabouts we made it to the Cliffs. In order to park, you have to pay per person, which is super annoying. Luckily, everyone has been taking my Truman student ID card, so I get discounts on basically everything, from public transportation to food etc. We made it to the Cliffs about 4:30 and immediately started taking pictures like good little tourists.
It was a LONG hike but the scenery was totally worth it. It looks nice in pictures you see all over the Internet, but the sheer magnitude of the cliffs and the absolute onslaught of wind make the experience of being there so much more fulfilling.
Getting daring, laying on the edge of the cliffs!
Birds birds birds. Is so windy up there it takes them like twenty minutes to land. And once they land, they don’t want to move around for the other birds. Nope.
I’m going to miss this dearly.
I knew that my bus left at 6:50 but I figured two hours was definitely long enough to see the cliffs and head back. Wrong. When we reached the end, we realized we only had 45 minutes to get all the way back to the car, get my stuff, and run to the bus station. BEGIN POWERWALKING SEQUENCE.
Yeah, that didn’t work. We got back about ten minutes after the bus left. I checked to bus schedule again to make sure there wasn’t another one leaving from Doolin to Galway at 8. Well, there was, but it wasn’t running that day. Okay, no big deal, I’ll figure something out, right?
My flight to Milan was Wednesday at 10 am. There was a bus directly from Galway to Knock West Airport at 6 am. I had a reservation for a hostel in Galway at 11pm. That’s what I had to work with.
Tom and Valerie took me back to the hostel in Doolin to ask for some advice. The hostel manager said I might be ale to hitchhike, but it was getting dark and not many people drive through Doolin, especially on a Tuesday. Not to mention it was getting dark, and hitchhiking in the dark is damn near impossible unless you’re a tiny blonde girl holding 60L of premium German beer (I could pull that off, right?). Rethinking the situation, I checked to see if I could change my flight. Didn’t work on my iPad on Chrome or Safari because I would get to this point where I couldn’t fill in a check mark to select which of my flights I wanted to change. The hostel owner told me I could use their computer, but it didn’t work on that either, so it must have been the website. Ah well, I could just call the company, right? Nope. Their phone lines closed at 5pm. Oh, and I got the flit originally for €30 or so. I looked up other flights I could take instead… Nothing under €120 for the exit month. Yeah, that wasn’t happening.
Okay, don’t panic, just breathe and stay positive and remember you’re still alive and where there’s a will, there’s always a way. Oh! Ride share!
Working as fast as I could, I brought up all the ride share website I could from the top of my head and googled a few Ireland specific ones. Well, the Irish ones all didn’t work the way I thought they might, and no one was around podunk Doolin anyway. Blablacar, my personal favorite, and one where you can always find a ride from somewhere, WAS UNDER MAINTENANCE.
RAGE. No, wait. Stay calm.
Okay, hitchhiking seemed like my last option. Tom and Valerie offered to take me there if I paid for gas, but you could sort of tell they didn’t want to because they’d also have a long day and they would have to drive 3 hours total if they took me. I made a sign and they took me to the nearest mid-sized town, about 6 km away. I can’t remember the name of it… Maybe I’ll look that up later.
Anyway, they went to get food and I agreed to stand on the corner and look for a ride. It was already dark by this point so I essentially knew I would have no luck, but was still hopeful. I struck up conversation with lots of locals, too. At one point, a group of middle aged women came up to me and asked me all about my time in Ireland. Every time I got to an interesting or scary part, they would gasp or laugh or cry out, “Oh, poor dear!” That was probably the highlight of my night as I stood shivering on that corner. One of them called a taxi to see how much that would be from the town up to Galway. €90. Ack! Was that my only option? Pretty much.
Right after she got off the phone, Tom and Valerie were done eating and came back to meet me. They’d brought me a chicken salad sandwich for which I was immensely grateful, and then we went to a local pub to ask some people if they had other taxi numbers they might know so we could get different quotes, just to make sure there was nothing cheaper. A ‘garda,’ or local police officer heard my Tory and offered to call several people. After two calls, Tom offered to just drive me and I could pay for gas (which probably would have been about €40, and I should have just taken it), but just then someone drove up all crazy-like and and the garda told me to flag him down. After doing so, they talked briefly and the garda turned around to tell me I’d found a ride! Hurray! What he failed to mention at that point is that it was going to be €75. After having jumped up and down in elation at finding a ride and being able to spare Tom and Valerie a trip, I couldn’t cancel, just I just sucked it up. Problems happen, and sometimes when you throw money at them, they go away. This is what my emergency budget was for, right?
After getting over the fact that I was about to pay €75 for being ten minutes too late for the bus, the guy came barreling down the road again and stopped rather quickly. I said my goodbyes to Tom and lakeside, thanked the garda, and got in the little white van owned by a local fisherman about my age named John Paul.
John Paul was a fast talker. Like, faster than me. Mix that with a thick Irish accent and you’ve got probably one of the most interesting and fun conversations you’ll ever have. In the hour from that town to Galway (he drove really, really fast. Like Jesus fast) we talked about everything from growing up with fishing and hunting to gay pride in Sydney. He wasn’t gay, but he had several friends who came out after high school so he renounced his Catholic background and became supportive after he graduated. Now, he’s on his way to the French Foreign Legion in six months and hopes to serve for a couple years before moving on to another job. He’s learning French by audiotape in his little speed bullet of a van.
We found Nimmo’s Hostel in downtown Galway in what is probably the noisiest part of any city I’ve visited. Galway is very much a college town, with thousands of university students lining the streets at night, singing at the top of their lungs and screaming at each other to talk above the noise of the music pouring out of various clubs that line the streets. I checked in to the hostel and went up to my bed and immediately regretted getting a room for only €10.
Everything smelled, the windows were cracked and the screams from below sounded clear as day. No plugs, so I couldn’t charge anything, and I wasn’t even sure my bedding was clean. At this point, though, it was 11:30 and I couldn’t bare to be up any longer than I needed to be because the bus left at 6am and I still had no idea where the bus station was. Setting my alarm to 5am, I took a short hot-as-possible shower, wrapped my travel blanket around my head to block out as much noise and sound as possible, and tried to sleep.
You know that feeling in your throat after you’ve cleared it too many times and its healing over from sickness so there’s tons of mucus in your throat and you can’t breathe and you constantly have to swallow, so much so that you feel like you’re going to throw up? That was me for the following three hours. I noticed the bars closed at 2 and the noise of the people had essentially subsided by 3, so at least I got something like an hour or two of sleep.
So this morning I wake up, throw on my clothes, and start running around town. I used the GPS on my phone to find the Bus Eireann station in town which was about a mile from the hostel, but had to stop several times for directions. When I finally got there, the attendant told me their buses didn’t go to Knock West. My heart nearly dropped out of my mouth. But then he continued, “the bus to the airport is just up the street, take your first right and it’s on the right.” Miracles! They happen! Oh, happy day!
I found my bus, got the ride, and now I’m at the airport. More when I get to nice, most likely.
Cheers, everyone! Life is fun and full of tough situations. Don’t give up.