This post is brought to you courtesy of free internet at a McDonalds somewhere in the Rhondda Valley in southeast Wales. Never thought I'd see the day where I'm thankful to ol' Ronald, but when he's throwing in some complimentary wi-fi alongside a much-needed boost of caffeine, I can forgive his creepy clownishness. Anyways, I've got plenty to write about Wales, but that's another Celtic nation for another day. Let's hop over the Irish Sea and travel west two and a half hours from Dublin to Galway...
Iain is from Galway, a medieval port-city on the Atlantic that looks directly across the ocean to my own home and native land, Canada. We took the bus from Dublin on Monday evening - a single trip ticket cost 10 euros each, and I also purchased a ticket back from Galway to Dublin Airport for 15 euros, a nice saving of 1 euro (yes, I'm cheap) considering that the airport shuttle that runs from Dublin costs 6 euros. The bus ride was uneventful save for an unfortunate experience with two extremely rude French-Canadian girls that just reconfirmed my already low opinion of les Quebecoises. Whatever. Who won the Battle of the Plains of Abraham again? Yeah, that's what I thought.
Anyways, Iain's mother Caroline picked us up at the bus station and brought us back to her place where we caught up with her and three of Iain's siblings. Around ten p.m., she dropped us off at his grandmother's house where we were staying and we watched the Irish news for a bit before going to bed. Then off to bed... in what was probably the coldest house I have ever tried to sleep in.
Thats the thing about Irish houses. They are freezing. I thought Iain was just exaggerating when we were back in Niamh's house, as he wrapped his coat around him and complained about the chill. At various times in my travels, I have made the mistake of assuming that because I'm Canadian, I am tough and hardy and can withstand extremely cold temperatures. However, the truth is that I am probably as much of a baby as Justin Bieber (and we all know that's saying a LOT!) I slept in four layers of clothing that night, and the next day went out to Penney's to buy a couple 5 euro long-sleeve shirts for extra layering. Brrrrrr!
I can't complain, though, because I did get to sleep in for the first time in a while. Au pairing is an interesting job to do, and the position brings with it numerous perks and benefits (such as the fact that I'm currently holidaying in Wales right now!) But one thing that you definitely have to accept as an au pair (or, you know, as a parent) is that your days of sleeping in are behind you. Why, oh why, can't we bank hours spent napping in our lazy "life is so tough" student days, to be used up later on, when babies are screaming in impotent rage throughout the night???
So after a delicious sleep-in, Iain and I headed off to the city centre, located around Shop Street, the main artery in the heart of Galway. One thing I've noticed about England is that every town has a "High Street", the main shopping street where you are guaranteed to find a cluster of familiar brand-name labels: Top Shop, Next, LK Bennett, Boots Pharmacy, House of Fraser, Monsoon, etc. (Kate Middleton is a huge fan of High Street style, and has often been said to personify "High Street Chic", although this isn't always a compliment coming from some fashion critics!) Iain disparagingly snorted when I made the connection between High Streets in England and Shop Street in Galway. "High Street sounds so British!" he said. "Its bad enough that we just got a Tommy Hilfiger here! Why do we have to be so obsessed with being like other countries?" The name "Tommy Hilfiger" was said with withering disdain and I burst out laughing as we walked past the store, which was indeed packed with customers.
I have some great photos that I want to post but as I don't have them on my computer yet I'll have to wait until I get back to England. We went to "Food for Thought", a charming little restaurant that won Galways's Best Cafe in 2010. The veggie quiche I ordered was delicious, with a flaky, golden crust. We ate our meals and poured over a trashy British tabloid magazine together (can someone please explain to me who Cheryl Cole is and why everyone over here seems to be obsessed?!) before gathering our umbrellas and moving on through the mizzle.
My internet time has just about expired (damn you, McDonalds and your 2 hour limit! I knew there had to be a catch somewhere) so I'll wrap this up now and continue later. I'm in Wales until Sunday and then I am carpe diem-ing and flying off to the Costa del Sol (Coast of the Sun...what a stark difference from wet n' wild Wales, huh?) for a week. Yep, Miss Spontaneous herself (if you actually know me, you probably either just choked on your morning cup of coffee or sarcastically raised an eyebrow because I am truthfully usually one of those boring, predictable creatures of habit) is going to Malaga, Spain with American Backpacker Dan (remember him? From Dublin) and his friends. Its a spur-of-the-moment trip, justified by extremely cheap flights courtesy of Ryanair, and yes, it could be dangerous as I don't really know any of the people I'm going to be backpacking with, but its all part of my travel philosophy - be open to new things, new people, new cities, and new experiences!