Monday, April 3rd–Galway city

An OK shower; the Connacht hotel and the neighborhood; breakfast in the hotel; making plans; Eyre Square shopping center, the parking structure there, Carphone Warehouse and an Irish SIM, ear buds, and remains of Galway's medieval wall; through the Claddagh to Boots; back to the parking structure to leave some stuff in the car; lunch at Supermac's; over to the Tourist Information Office to see what's going on this week; asking at the hotel's reception desk for dinner recommendations in the area; driving over to Supervalu for a grocery & booze run and getting slightly lost on the way back; booking a ticket on the ferry to Inisheer for later in the week; working on my podcasts playlists before dinner; walking downhill to the G Counter for dinner and by cab back uphill; more plans

Mini-apartment at the Connacht Hotel

Silver VW Jetta



It's now almost 1 AM Tuesday morning and I'm just getting around to typing up my notes for today, and not because I just got in or anything like that. In fact I've been back here in my room since about 9 PM. I was watching something on my laptop when all of a sudden around 10:30 I felt like I really needed to stretch out for a bit and I think I even fell asleep for about an hour or a bit longer.

Today was a very good day even with mediocre weather. I seem to have slept pretty well last night and woke up in plenty of time to make it over for breakfast. The shower in my bathroom is very similar to the one for the room I stayed in last year. It's in a large, tall soaking tub which I don't really like at all since I have a bit of difficulty getting into and out of it. The water pressure is again mediocre, which is compensated for a bit by having a detachable shower head which means that at least you can get decently wet and rinsed off. There are plenty of places to put things around the tub, both on the tub sides itself and on a nice shelf at the foot of the tub. Oddly enough there isn't a towel rack so you have to put the towel you want to use somewhere on the shelf within reach but where it won't get wet.

Let me provide a few more details about this hotel and where my mini apartment is located. The Connacht is a fairly large complex, with a wing with the reception area and lobby and the bar which is where breakfast is served as well as another larger restaurant and at least one event venue alongside the front parking lot. To the left of that area, still along the parking lot, is what looks like an older wing and I have no idea what kinds of rooms are in that area.

Down a long hallway and around a corner is the D wing which is where I stayed last year and where my mini apartment is located at the far end of another long corridor. There is a long, skinny parking lot alongside this wing with entrance to the hotel's underground parking lot which I don't remember if I went down into at all last year.

On the ground floor level from the corner to about halfway is what seems to be a very nice 24/7 fitness center and what from the pictures seems to be a lovely indoor swimming pool, neither of which which I've been to yet on either this trip or last because I've been doing my walking outside during my wandering around the city or other places. As I've been coming and going from this wing I've often noticed people with gym bags going in and out of the entrance by the fitness center and even when I've gone across the street to the small store there or walked down hill towards the Huntsman where I went for dinner last night I've seen people with gym bags very clearly heading across to use the gym here.

This wing has four levels, I think. The main wing where the reception desk and reception area are has stairs and an elevator up to the first (second floor for us from the US) which has a long hallway over the restaurant to connect with this wing above the fitness center and pool. About halfway along the first part of the hallway is an activity room for kids and at least one smaller exercise studio with movable exercise bicycles. I've seen at least a couple of exercise classes there, and that was today only and not counting any I saw last year. The first one I saw today used the exercise bikes and the second didn't.

The elevator from the ground floor up to the other floors of the wing is right beside the entrance to the fitness center and is where the hallway takes a quick and short 90 degree turn and another one to get back going along the same way.

Basically my mini apartment is at the end of a long hallway which connects to another long hallway to get to the restaurant's & bar & reception area.

Immediately downhill from the hotel's property is a large sports field, and the window at the end of my hallway looks out at the huge property and field of the Mervue UTD AFC which as far as I can tell from their web page seems to be a soccer (US)/football (almost everyone else) team although I can't find anywhere that explains what the UTD and AFC stand for although FC probably stands for Football Club.

And now back to my morning and what I did today. I started by heading on over to the bar/restaurant for breakfast after taking a shower and getting dressed (of course). I finished about 10 AM and came back to my room because it was grey and chilly and drizzly and I wasn't in a hurry to get moving and out.

Before I left I spent some time making some plans for the rest of the week. I love getting out on the water wherever I am but this is the off season for the tours out on Galway Bay as well as the Corrib Princess on the nearby Lough Corrib so that basically leaves just the boats to and from the Aran Islands. Before I left I booked a ticket for Friday's Wild Atlantic Way Day Tours Connemara trip out to Clifden and the Sky Road with a two hour stop at Kylemore, which I loved when I was here in Ireland on the CIE tour Mom sent me on ten years ago and didn't get back to when I was here last summer.

There were four places I wanted to go today, three of them downtown. The first place was the Carphone Warehouse in the Eyre Square shopping center which I'd never been to before, not having had to do much shopping while here last year. I couldn't even remember actually having been past the center, although I knew it's a quite large complex. The center has its own large parking structure and is also very well known for having one of the few remnants of Galway's medieval walls around the city designed to keep the displaced Irish Celts from bothering the invading Anglo Normans.

I had to use Google Maps on my home Sprint iPhone long enough to get from here to the parking structure which was quite easy to find although at first I accidentally went past the entrance and wound up over by the lovely cathedral before I could find somewhere I could turn around and get the directions back to where I wanted to be. I saw more of downtown Galway that way, though.

The Eyre Square Centre parking structure is very much a typical downtown lot with what seems like barely enough room for two way traffic to make the turns onto and off the ramps between floors. The proximity sensors on my car were going off most of the time even though I was as far away from the other cars as the narrow lanes allowed.

Eyre Square Centre is indeed at largish, very nice mall with several floors (three?) and lots of cafes and coffee places and small restaurants. I found the Carphone Warehouse very easily and bought a one month Irish SIM card and coverage package. I had to pay cash (less than 30 Euros with an additional small top up) because apparently that chain doesn't take non Irish or UK credit or debit cards, which got me a little worried I might not be able to use mine elsewhere although I did use it at the small store across the street yesterday. Apparently Carphone Warehouse is trying to prevent cell phone smuggling or something like that.

I had of course left all of my ear buds back here in my mini apartment and needed to buy another set so I could hear Google Maps on my now Irish older iPhone which I did while still in the Centre. I also took some pictures of the very nicely maintained old city wall.

I wanted to find the nearest Boots to pick up some Slimfasts in case I want to skip paying for breakfast here in the hotel and a compact mirror to replace the one I traveled with to use while shaving in the shower and broke a while back and so before leaving the Centre I brought up the directions to the nearest Boots on my now Irish iPhone.

When I went outside I realized I had probably been past the entrance to the Centre a couple of times the last time I was here in Galway, because for such a large mall the entrance on the street nearest Eyre Square is surprisingly small and narrow. The path over to the nearest Boots took me through the Claddagh area which wasn't very busy at all this morning–no buskers, though, probably due to the mediocre to drizzly weather. I bought six bottles of Slimfast but forgot to look for another mirror. I then made my way back to the Centre's parking lot to leave the Slimfasts in the car.

The last place I wanted to go downtown was the Tourist Information office. I wanted to double check that none of the Galway Bay or Lough Corrib cruises are operating at this time (I was right) and to find out if there were any concerts or shows going on (none, and I just missed the last performance of "Monty Python's Spamalot" this past weekend but I did get a list of where and when trad music sessions can be found). I needed to stop for lunch somewhere by this time, so I ate at the small Supermac's mini food court first and had a good bacon cheese burger.

I had thought of stopping by the small off license store downhill from the hotel on the way back. Getting back here from the Eyre Square Centre parking lot was quite easy, once I got back downstairs and out. I of course used Google Maps on my Irish iPhone and was at the base of the hill for the turn to come back up Old Dublin Road surprisingly quickly.

Old Dublin Road is basically a single lane in each direction, with a bus/taxi lane alongside for most of the way, and is not quite up to handling the often heavy traffic on it. Today there was also a small accident which blocked the lane heading uphill. I decided that it wouldn't be a good idea to go to the off license but I'd just stop by here and then head on over to the nearest Supervalu which has its own liquor store.

Instead of coming all the way back to my room I stopped off at the lobby to use the restroom there and to stop by the reception desk to find out where else anyone might recommend to go for dinner somewhere sort of nearby. I'd seen several announcements that one of the restaurants here in the hotel is having a Moroccan night this coming Thursday so I also made a reservation. Lisa, one of the young women working the desk at the time, is quite lovely, cute and rather adorable. She recommended a place she really likes, the G Counter which is one of the shops in the mini mall behind the G hotel & spa down by the Huntsman. I checked their website and saw they're only open until 7:30 PM.

When I got back to my car I brought up the directions over to the Supervalu, which I had done on my laptop before to find out where I was going. It's basically quite straight forward from here to there, up Old Dublin Road to the next very major intersection, Ballybane Road, which is the street the store is on. Google Maps navigated me along a couple of side streets, presumably to avoid heavier traffic. I of course at first missed the entrance to the store, turning prematurely at the corner. I had to go around the block and come past the store to get to the entrance to the parking lot.

The store's in a very nice, smaller mini mall with a few other shops and itself is very nice as well, not huge but with a good, largish selection. I picked up a few small bottles of sparkling water and individual containers of yogurt and rice pudding as well. The store apparently doesn't carry small pint size (literally) bottles of liquor so I had to get a larger bottle of whiskey than I wanted but they did have Bushmills honey which I had and really enjoyed when I was here last summer. I decided not to get a large bottle of rum because I had noticed the store sold small cans of Captain Morgan rum & cola and bought some of those instead.

Although as I said it's pretty straightforward getting from here to the Supervalu and back, somehow on my return trip I seem to have taken a wrong turn and wound up in a parking lot on the nearby local campus of the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology before I could pull over and bring up the directions to my hotel and get back on the right main roads.

The guy who helped me at the Tourist Information office when I was there had reassured me that there really is enough on Inisheer, the smallest of the Aran Islands, to make a trip there worthwhile so after I got back here to my room I booked a ticket on the Thursday morning sailing on the Aran Islands ferry with a late afternoon return that will give me about five or six hours on the island which should be more than long enough–I can always find a nice pub to hang out in for a while.

Before leaving to walk down to dinner I spent some time catching up on my podcasts playlists, adding the new episodes from last week and this past weekend. I thought it had stopped drizzling when I left so I didn't wear my rain jacket, just my Dublin sweatshirt instead. Fortunately it wasn't a heavy drizzle so the walk downhill was OK. I took my camera with me and I'm glad I did because I had noticed they seem to be having a late Spring here, with quite a few bare branches on most of the trees but some of them are starting to flower. I also took some pictures of the mini mall where the G Counter is located.

I got there about 6:45 PM and was one of the few customers there. They seem to have most of their business for coffee, breakfast, and early dinners. It's a rather nice, very pleasant but not fancy place and I had a lovely meal, with a delicious squash soup, some lovely fish and spinach and small potatoes, and mango cheesecake and a very good bottle of a local beer. I asked them to call a cab for me to take me the short trip back uphill to the hotel, and the very nice cabby only took 5 Euros when I tried to give him a tip.

It's now about 3 AM, far later than I had planned on being up and I need to get to bed and I hope to sleep fairly soon. I can still get about 5 to 5 and a half hours of sleep and still catch breakfast in the restaurant if I want. I of course stocked up with some Slimfast which are chilling in my mini fridge.

So what do I want to do tomorrow and Wednesday? I've decided not to try and head on over to Tuam, which I still can't find much information about other than there are two large churches there. All I really know about Tuam is that one of Dad's grandmothers was a Loftus who came from there, and a distant relative named Junie Loftus owned a pub there.

I've also decided not to head on back to the Cliffs of Moher, which I really like but went to when I was here this past summer, especially since I'm already making two trips out of town later this week.

I had thought of going over to the lovely and very well done Galway City Museum and the Long Walk while I was downtown this afternoon but the museum's closed on Mondays so I think I'll head back there tomorrow and also stop but the lovely Cathedral. As I mentioned earlier I was rather surprised how quickly I got back here after leaving the Eyre Square Centre parking lot, and when I checked Google Maps I saw it's only about a 45 minute walk from here at the hotel all the way to the Spanish Arch and the museum so I think I'll walk into town and take a cab back if the weather's decent tomorrow.

And probably on Wednesday I'll take the short drive out to Salthill and the Prom for the afternoon.

And now it's really time to get to bed, and hope I sleep well if not long.

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