Phil's Travels - Galway, Ireland (0615)
Phil's Travels - Galway, Ireland (06.15)
I started my journey to the Emerald Isle from the City of London. Thinking it would save time, I took the Tube all the way to Heathrow T2, rather than play around with the Heathrow Express. My best laid plans came to nought when I was overcome by a bout of iPhoneitis (an over inflamed concentration on one's iPhone, rather than paying attention to one's surroundings) and disembarked at T4. My condition was so severe that I did not even realise I was in the wrong terminal until I had made it up to Departures Level and saw only long haul flights on the monitors.
I eventually made it to T2 after another delay, as I bumped into Sam from my Cushman days in the interminable tunnels between the Heathrow Express Station and T2. T2 is still the most sterile and soulless terminal in Heathrow. Its grey interior design reminds me of a BMW garage without the BMWs. There are no views and nothing interesting to look at internally. How can HAL get T5 so right and T2 so wrong?
With little time to spare and an empty tummy, I decided to give Perfectionist another go. This time I ordered Full English. Note to Heston: why coat your poached eggs in glycerine rendering them impossible to manipulate and turning them into slippery little buggers that slithered across my table, followed by an impressive silly-mid-odd catch before they hit the restaurant floor? Imagine if I had ordered a Nitro Sundae to go with it - a Nitro Sundae and Glycerine Poached Egg combo is surely a security issue in the world's second busiest airport. Although the eggs did provide some degree of excitement, the Full English presentation on the plate was as sterile as the terminal. Suffice to say that Jamie does it better in Gatwick.
Aer Lingus were faultless and we landed at Shannon Airport on time. I caught a bus to Galway and loved the vehicle's automated Irish voice: "Stand clear. Luggage doors operatin' ". The view from the bus was quintessential Ireland - beautiful green countryside full of cows, horses and sheep. Nearer Galway, the hedgerows gave way to a patchwork of grey, dry-stone walls. I am not sure how planning works on the west coast, but houses (from small cottages to truly massive mansions) seemed to line the whole route, with few clearly discernible villages or residential zoning.
Being so close to America, the sun set at 22.00 and the sky was still light until well after 23.00. In this surreal late evening light I visited a nearby watering hole. I asked the lovely landlady for something local and she offered me a Hooker. A hooker? As I stammered an incomprehensible, time saving mumble, the lovely lady saved my blushes by telling me, "Galway Hooker. 'Tis a beer, not a ficken lady o' de night!". And so delicious was it, I had two (beers!).
I visited a good number of hotels and the standout property was the G Hotel. It's as mad as the hatter that designed it. Gorgeous interiors, large rooms and very friendly staff.
As the journey from Galway to Shannon is around two hours by bus, I decided to play it safe and took a taxi. Good idea? Not. The taxi driver lost his way and it took us nearly as long as the bus. To be fair though, he did get me there on time and the flight home was without incident.
If you do get to Galway, don't forget to say "Top o' de mornin'!" to Arthur the Heron on The Long Walk, where he will no doubt be strutting his stuff on a car roof again. "Tanks a million fer de memories and the Taytos".