Cork->Galway (Salthill)
Day 17

August 24, Monday
Day: 17
Mileage: 3.5
Cork->Galway (bus); Galway->Salthill (biking in the rain)
Night's Lodging: Bay View Camground, Salthill
Weather: Cloudy in Cork; rain and drizzle in Galway

Cork, the third largest city in Ireland, was an attractive city with many nooks and crannies, alleyways and strangely shaped streets, which we spent the morning exploring.

We made sure to see the bow-fronted (half-circular) buildings on Grand Parade. I've always wondered how they shape glass for curved window panes. I didn't find out, but was appreciative of the number of small panes per window, each properly curved.

We wandered St. Patrick's Street (the main shopping area, where although I looked scruffy in my wrinkled off-bike pants and dark cotton t-shirt, a Waterford crystal store allowed me to enter and make a purchase), the South Mall, Crawford Art Gallery (numerous works by Irish artists).

At the Shandon Crafts Center, we watched Jerry cut a crystal salad bowl. Using black tape for guide lines, he created an intricate "full- cut" design. I was fascinated to watch this process. It was nothing like I imagined. The company specialized in engraving-some going to our part of the world...Apple Computer.

Wandering further from the center of the city to St. Anne's Anglican Church, said to be Cork's most famous attraction, we hiked the stairs to the top of the carillon tower. Visitors were allowed to play the eight bells from pre-selected tunes. Of course we had to do that! Traditionalists selected "On the Banks of My Own Lovely Lee" (Cork is on the Lee River), but bowing to tradition was not for us. We played both Irish and American: "When Irish Eyes are Smiling" and "When the Saints Go Marchin' In."

In order to cover the miles we needed so we could both see Galway and be back at Shannon airport for our departure a few days hence, we opted to take the 1300h bus, to Galway.

The problem - the 1300h bus didn't arrive. Nor depart. We were bumped to the 1530h bus, scheduled to arrive in Galway at 1945h.

We had been told by a number of people that the bus driver made the decision as to whether bikes could come along. We went to great lengths to try to capture the attention of our driver...once we knew who he was. We needed all three bikes to be on board. Tracy was the point man for this venture. If necessary, I would smile and add my two cents worth. As it turned out, although the bus was full there was no problem.

(As I write, I have a headache. Stress from the hassling we had to do in Cork to make sure to get the bus to Galway. Bleh.)

Arriving on time in the drizzle, heavy rain began as soon as we got on our bikes. Salthill, just up the road from Galway was a town where at night pre-teens pushed coins into arcade games along the main street while the amusement centre (park) Ferris wheel lights scribed a twinkly circle against the rainy sky. The seaside resort looked tired and disheveled. Butting up against the commercial district were blocks of B&Bs, side by each.

I wondered if a developer didn't go through singing the praises of a B&B investment, "Get your B&B here. Brand new! Ready for you and the tourists! Just hang out your shingle announcing your presence." According to Jack's B&B host, all were full in July and August.

(As I write, a west wind is flapping my tent in the campground. Jack escaped into the B&B next door...still doesn't want to cope with his leaky tent. I don't blame him. This may put a crimp into our riding plans tomorrow because there's no way I'm going to ride out to explore Connemara with headwinds like this.)

A terrible wind roared through our campground. And a terrible rainstorm. At 1 a.m. I was battening down everything, listening to the wind wail. There was laundry on a nearby line - it sounded as if giants were stomping around as the laundry flapped.

I didn't know what the breezes were, maybe 40 mph with 50 mph gusts. Sometimes heavy squally rain, sometimes not. It was scary. I hoped that the tent stakes on the windward side wouldn't pull up. It was hard to know if the tent fly would remain attached, as I had bent two stakes pushing them into that Irish soil. A stake would penetrate about two inches and hit shale or rock.

I was sleeping in a fair amount of clothing so that if I had to pick up stakes, as it were, and dash off to safety in the women's restroom I could. Leave Rufus and my gear in the tent, grab money, shoes, jacket, and head for drier digs.

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