Monday, March 2, 2015

Galway: Gael-force wind

Snow on the roof below our hotel window
Cincinnatians like to tell visitors that if they don’t like the weather, “just wait a few minutes.” While this is not too much of an exaggeration—it seems there is a day every spring when we need the heat on in the morning but must switch to air conditioning by mid-afternoon—it is an exaggeration. However, it is no exaggeration to state that today in Galway we saw snow, sleet, rain, hail, and brilliant sunshine, all within one thirty-minute period—and similar thirty-minute cycles ran continuously throughout most of the day, driven by the tremendous wind.

Michael was at work and thus missed most of the meteorological drama, but Nancy experienced the full impact while walking around the city. On Shop Street, she looked for potential souvenirs and examined a lot of beautiful handmade Aran sweaters but didn’t purchase any, figuring that it would be more fun to just knit some herself.

St. Nicholas Collegiate Church
At one edge of Galway’s pedestrian area is St. Nicholas Collegiate Church, around which local farmers set up stalls to sell their produce on Saturday mornings. St. Nicholas is one of Ireland’s best-preserved medieval churches; according to legend, Columbus came here to pray before setting off to find the New World. Nancy did a leisurely exploration of the gargoyles, tombstones, and other carvings inside (as much to get out of the wind as anything else).

Shamrocks symbolize the Trinity
By the time she had finished her lunch of potato-leek soup and brown bread at Lynch’s Café, the occasional periods of sunshine had become somewhat more prolonged, so she decided to stroll around and take photographs of places Michael had mentioned in earlier posts but had visited only after dark.
Houses along the west bank of the Corrib, with Galway Cathdral in the background

The modern side of the marina on Galway Bay during a fleeting moment of sunshine
Later, the two met at the hotel and then shared tapas at Café Bodega: rocket salad, mussels with almonds in garlic butter, grilled lamb and sweet potatoes en brochette, and churros with chocolate sauce and chunks of crispy honeycomb. Both of us were too tired to wait for the music to begin at Taafes, so we just returned to the hotel.
At Cafe Bodega

The Radisson Blu Galway
A unique feature of the Radisson Blu Galway—at least, this is the only place we have encountered it, but it’s probably fairly common in Europe these days: Your magnetic key card must be used not only to unlock the door to your room, but also to unlock the electricity. Unless you insert the card in another little slot just inside the door, your lights will not go on, and any devices you have plugged in will not get recharged while you are away.

Another feature of the Radisson—as well as of both our accommodations over the weekend—is that there is no top sheet on the bed, only a covered duvet; thus one might say that typical Irish bed clothing is binary: it’s either on or off. Nancy finds this annoying because her flannel pajamas have proved too warm when the duvet is on, but not warm enough all by themselves; she’s still trying to figure out how to achieve an optimal temperature for sleeping.

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