Westport

Doolin was assuredly my favorite place. The people. The views. The chocolate. The Cliffs. Oh, those Cliffs. I’m not sure I will ever get over them.

Woney and I had gone to bed the night before, exhausted and spent but full of the experience of the Cliffs. The fire on my face made me crabby and tired, though, so I was ready for some rest. Anyone having truly experienced a proper sunburn knows of what I speak. The next morning as the sun came up, Woney and I awoke, and as we sat up in our respective beds to greet the day, Woney said, “Oh, Jimmie, your poor face.”

As she said it, I realized that the fire had not gone away overnight. Not only was my skin tight and a violent shade of red, it was also puffy from sleep. An excellent look for a woman in her forties. After we showered and I attempted to cover my lobster face with makeup, Woney and I headed down the stairs for our traditional Irish breakfast. I have to say, if I never see another egg again it will be too soon. A few days prior I had started picking my way through the breakfast, indulging in the tomato, the bacon and of course, the toast. Toast! I’ll never get over toast. But the egg and the sausage were grossing me out anymore. Blergh.

The proprietors at our B&B were lovely people, and as we were leaving, the husband, doing his B&B duty, began pointing out the authentic castle and gorgeous coastlines we should visit on our way to Galway. “No!” Woney and I both yelped, much to his dismay and surprise. We explained that authentic castles and scenic drives were no longer of interest to us. We were full. We could take no more eggs, no more castles and no more coastlines. I thought longingly of my umbrella that had been packed away in my suitcase since the beginning of the trip, just waiting to be opened for the first time. I was yearning for a cool breeze and soft rain and any kind of break from the heat. My face was on fire and I just wanted to experience some gloom, some damp. So no, gorgeous sunny coastlines were no longer on my list of things to see. Try explaining this to an Irishman who has lived his entire life in a state of gloom and rain and for once, has experienced a sunny break in his traditional gray life. Just try. It will not go over well, I assure you.

I think it was safe to say that Woney and I were tired. Woney had been doing a lot of driving and I had been doing a lot of passenger seat braking and reading of maps (wrongly, of course). This trip was thrilling, no doubt, but we were wearing out a little. We drove into Galway with this fatigue. We parked our car and schlepped out of it and trudged our way onto the brick streets that pave the city center of Galway.

Let me segue for just a bit. Once, when I was 19, I visited Sienna, Italy with Auntie Anne, Madre, and Martie. What a gorgeous place that was! The streets of Sienna were paved with bricks which gave it an old world feel – accurate as Sienna is old world. Sienna, at the time I was 19, was also full of military men, much to the delight of Martie and also me. We found ourselves some Italian boyfriends, Martie and I, and spent a happy two days in Sienna speaking the language of like on the brick-paved streets with two gorgeous military men, Luigi and Alessandro.

It think it is safe to say that brick-paved streets evoke fond memories in me and I’m telling you, the moment I put my foot on that brick street in Galway, I was shifted back to my time in Sienna. The excitement I felt there rushed back into me and suddenly, I was no longer fatigued. With a spring in my step, I trotted around Galway with Woney for the better part of the morning. She was pretty springy, too. We found Galway to be marvelous and truly, I was happy to experience it in the sunshine. Had it been raining we would have missed the man who made the most astonishing balloon figures, I conceded. It was fascinating to watch him create an Elmo with googly eyes and a Superman with a six-pack set of abs out of long skinny strips of rubber. We would have missed the street performers and the street fair where we spent exorbitant amounts of money on gifts for our friends and family. I had my first Irish tea at a sidewalk café. We had lunch at McDonough’s, a place we’d been hearing about since we left New York City. Go there for fish and chips. Don’t even waste your time having this dish anywhere else. McDonough’s. Make note of it.

Galway 2

Galway 3

Galway 4

With some regret Woney and I drove out of Galway that afternoon and headed for Westport. Days before we had begun to make pipe-dream plans to move to Ireland. Every city on our path was evaluated based on our pipe-dream criteria (are the people nice, how are the pubs, is there a dentist office). It didn’t take us long to realize that Galway would fit the bill nicely. So yes, we had regrets about leaving. Until we got to Westport.

True to form, our B&B in Westport was gorgeous! The proprietor was a sweet, shy woman and the city was just as friendly as every place we had visited thus far. Woney and I were thrilled with our first floor room as our ridiculous suitcases were becoming increasingly heavier the more we shopped.

Westport 14

Westport 15

We were even more thrilled when we learned from the sweet proprietor that there was a spa nearby that offered the fish pedicures we didn’t even know we wanted. Fish pedicures! Do you even know what that is? (Martie and Daisy – I am cautioning you to stop reading right now. Really, stop. This will turn your stomach.) Tiny little piranha-like fish in a tank rush to the dead skin on your feet and chew it off. We’d heard about it but being as how it’s not legal in the States, Woney and I had never dreamed we would get to experience it.

Westport 18

Y’all, experience it we did. With some trepidation we booked our appointment, made our way into the city, cleaned our feet, and then stared with wide eyes into the fish tanks. The fish were so . . . . tiny. They looked harmless. They just kind of flittered around in the tank, being lazy, being fish. Woney and I perched on our respective benches and on the count of three, plunged our feet into the tanks. Oh. Oh! OHOHOH! Those tiny harmless fish did turn into little mini-piranhas. In a frenzy they swarmed to our feet, like little leeches, and attached themselves to the dead skin on our feet for 25 minutes. It was such a strange sensation, like a tickling, buzzing, leech-y feeling. We loved it. Absolutely loved it! Highly Recommend Fish Pedicures.

Westport 2

Later that night, Woney and collapsed into our beds, totally happy with our experiences that day. We were settling in and just as we were drifting off to sleep in this very cushy, very plush, very large B&B, very much opposite the one in Doolin where we were terrified we’d hear someone having echo-y sex, we heard the couple in the bedroom above ours begin an amorous, rhythmic, thumping party that we could not ignore. “Go on with your bad selves,” I thought. And then sighed. Every silver lining has a cloud, I guess.

Next Stop: Trim!

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