Homeless in Galway

It’s been interesting being homeless in a completely different country.  Thank goodness we at least have the ability to live in a hotel; can’t imagine not having a bed at night.

The properties “to let” in our budget range are not the best.  It’s tough finding places that even have 2 bathrooms – an absolute must on Cindy’s wish list.  (By the way, apparently as popular as “Cindy” is as a name in the US, it’s virtually unknown in Ireland.  It’s been mispronounced more often than not.  But she refuses to become “Cynthia.”)  Everyone has an opinion on which neighborhood to look in, what type of accommodation to look at, and what kind of neighbors to watch out for.  The hotel manager has taken it upon himself to approve the places we’re looking in and is offering his assessment whenever possible.

Looked at several properties today, most of which failed the litmus test almost immediately.  The fellow with the tiny, dirty, nasty apartment seemed fairly offended when we turned it down on the spot.  Honestly, dude, the closet that was supposed to be an en suite bathroom?  Seriously?  The most promising house so far is a semi-detached (that means half of a duplex) with a WC and two baths, 3 bedrooms and a “box room,” huge kitchen (for Ireland) and a very nice landlord who really likes us already, enough to build us a shed and a clothesline and take us in without us even being able to prove we actually have money!  It’s kind of far away from Claude’s work so it has a drawback…

More property viewings tomorrow.  Hoping to have something leased by Friday, otherwise we’re going to just become members of the hotel manager’s family!  🙂

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First impressions – food

Baked beans and French fries for breakfast.  Brown bread is dry but so is the white toast, and you have to ask for jam.  A distinct lack of salt in most dishes.  Lots of heavy meat meals, with mashed potatoes drenched in brown gravy and veggies steamed to a mushy texture.  The local produce, when offered, is really quite delicious.  Most tables have milk in a pot at breakfast-time, and packets of mayo, mustard & ketchup at lunch- and dinner-time.  And every restaurant we have visited has vegetarian options, even if it’s only one dish.  Subway is the same only they don’t offer potato chips.  Supermacs seems to be the McDonald’s substitute. Pubs offer pretty much the same menu from one to the next.  Saw the Irish version of Johnnie Rocket’s, called Eddie Rocket’s – which probably has equally as yukky food as their American counterpart.

Saw a show with Jamie Oliver cruising around his town harvesting various wild herbs and plants and incorporating them into his dishes.  We really need to learn how to identify those plants and go on foraging trips for ourselves.

The guy at the front desk says we should try the new Chinese buffet place.  Can’t wait to try more of the various restaurants the city has to offer…

(EDIT: By the way, take out is called take away.  And there’s no tipping!)

A new beginning

Journaling our new adventures in Galway should be very interesting – or boring, depending on who you are.  We can only hope that we keep up with it to make it worth your while to come and read it.

Just a few initial thoughts/observations: Should have gotten the name of the gent sitting next to Cindy on the ride to Philly, as he was an interesting fellow.  He had been in Wyoming doing research into water particulates with an old friend who works at the U of W in Laramie.  He described himself as having hailed from a place he pronounced “Penis-ton” even though the locals call it “Pen-iss-ton,” and mentioned that back in the old CB days it was referred to as “Genital City.”  He talked about visiting Yellowstone and Devil’s Tower and really enjoying his time hanging out in the bars with the local rednecks telling jokes.  He described himself as “job free” and kindly inducted Cindy into the ranks.  As usual, Cindy slept barely at all during both flights, however Claude got several hours under his belt.  Two airplane flights, one bus ride and 27 hours later – voila!  Galway!

The people in Galway – and Ireland in general – are really quite friendly and engaging, unless they’re very focused on what they are doing or where they are going.  The women of Galway move quickly, with a determination that borders on aggression.  There seems to be a fashion trend of young women wearing shorts or very tiny skirts with fancy tights which kind of has Cindy baffled as it is too damn cold at this time of year to be wearing so little clothing!  However, the young men wear pants that fit, and oh, is that a relief to see.  We had occasion to visit the Bank of Ireland branch at the National University of Ireland to open a bank account, then over to DERI to get a letter for Claude to actually open the account, then back to NUI to try again – the whole time observing the age of the school and the nature of the youth who attend there.  They’re all so fresh and beautiful and immature and vibrant and full of promise…  It was graduation day so there were a great many people with family and friends, all dressed in their best.

We have also had occasion to visit with the Garda (at two different offices – nice people!) and the lovely ladies at the employment office for our Irish Social Security numbers (also twice, also very nice people).  Do you get the feeling we don’t really know what we’re doing?  It’s true, we don’t!  Just learning one step at a time.

A bartender is a “barman,” one says “Cheers” and “Thanks a million” when expressing gratitude.  Every sign is in Gaelic first and then English – and Cindy gets the feeling it’s going to be a long time before we even know how to pronounce most of those words without embarrassing ourselves.  You don’t give an address when asking where something is located, you give landmarks.  Looking for a rental property is a complicated proposition, as one has to go through a property agent or make an appointment with a landlord to view the property, which could be gone by the time you get there.  That’s our next big hurdle.  Finding a suitable home in a suitable location for a suitable price should be quite the challenge!

So far the weather has been mild, certainly warmer than it was in Denver, although the wind can be brisk and quite chilly!  Central heating is definitely a must-have in our new home, no matter where that may be.

We’ll post pix as soon as we have them, please be patient.