Trains, Trolleys & Tuk Tuks-Getting around Lisbon

When you visit Lisbon, don’t even contemplate renting a car.  The traffic is crazy and the streets are uneven cobblestone narrow lanes.  Picturesque the crooked quaint streets are, but you do NOT want to drive here.  Trust me.  Instead, enjoy the public transportation system and treat yourself to a tuk tuk too.

WP_20170510_15_34_30_Rich.jpg

If you are a typical American, you are dependent on and feel lost without your own car.  In Europe, it’s practical and easy to let someone else do the driving.  So here’s a quick guide to public transportation in Europe.  Buy your travel card (could be paper or plastic depending on country) and use your credit card to put money on it to use as needed at the machine at the bus/train/trolley station.  We usually start with 10 euros on each of ours and then “top off” or add more $ at the machines as we use it up.  Ride costs vary but are usually 1-2 euros each trip.  Machines will be around the stations, usually with a line waiting to use, and just step up when it’s your turn, select your language and the machine will walk you through the process.  Easy peasey.

WP_20170512_18_20_27_Rich

As you proceed with your card/ticket, you will either just slap it on the pad at the machine turnstyles to enter the station or at the station just inside the door as you enter the trolly or sometimes it will be fed into the machine and spit out on the other side.  Just watch the other passengers and follow in style.  Grab a map of the subway or trolley lines at the station and off you go!  Most systems are color coded, i.e. in Lisbon we took the red line to the blue line to get around the entire town.  Inside the subway, trolley, etc. you will usually see a map of the system with the stops called out.  Just watch for your stop and if you miss it, get off at the next stop and switch tracks to go back.  It happens!  Keep your card handy as you sometimes have to use it to get out of the turn styles upon arrival.  Make sure you look for the green light vs. the red light so the exit you pick is active.  Don’t be that crazy American tourist trying to exit a closed lane.

I have to give Lisbon A+ for their public transportation.  In addition to a great metro (subway) system, they have trolleys/buses for easy around town travel and trains to get out of town and explore Sentra, Porto, Evora, etc.  All except the trains use the one transport card.  For trains, you have to get a separate ticket.  We found out that they assign seats on the train tickets after we sat in the wrong seats and had to move.  Oops.

For fun, we tried a tuk tuk one day for short ride.  For $10 euros for the two of us, the lovely lady took us in her three wheel golf cart-like tuk tuk and proceeded to tell us stories about Lisbon during our trip.  Travel + a story!  She explained that Lisbon is quite safe but there are lots of “soft” crime meaning pickpockets.  She told us about a tradition where the governor pays for 10 weddings a year at a big event in June.  Unfortunately, our driver is engaged to a Porto resident not a Lisbon resident so she was not qualified to enter the wedding raffle.  She contemplated finding another boyfriend but decided to keep him.  Ah, true love! Hint:  look for electric tuk tuk vs. a gas one so you aren’t sucking in deadly fumes on your lovely ride around Lisbon.  Cheers!

Chapel of Bones

“We bones in here wait for yours to join us.”  This message over the door greets visitors who enter the Chapel of Bones.  Disturbing and disruptive.  Unlike anything I had ever experienced,  Capela dos Ossos is in the Church of St. Francis in Evora, a cute Portugal city that has been around for 2,000+ years.

WP_20170513_14_47_52_Rich.jpg

Three monks, concerned with the values they saw in Evora’s society in the 1600’s, created this macabre chapel to give residents a place to contemplate their love of material things against their inevitable death.  Using locales from the cemeteries around town, skulls and bones were gathered to form the walls, columns and ceiling.  Full corpses of an adult and a child also are on display.  To stand in that room looking at this religious expression of protest against wealth and status from so long ago shows that society never changes.  You have that same wealth disparity today across the world.  Will  human beings ever learn?

Not my cup of tea usually but staring at the display made me reflect on the need to be in the present, appreciate my blessings and not take one minute of this precious life for granted.  Because, just like these bones and skulls staring back at me, we will all join them some day.  All that matters then is the lasting good that we are able to create while alive.  Unfortunately, though, most shun thoughts of our eventual demise and focus on gathering as many material things as we can while alive.  The old saying “you can’t take it with you” comes to mind.  Why on Earth then do we spending all our time working to buy stuff that we don’t really need?

On Mother’s Day, I appreciate that Thom and I created two really outstanding human beings who are now making a difference themselves in the world.  Hannah and James make me very proud every day of the worthy life I have lived.  Until I depart to be only bones, I can only hope to continue to do good work and live a life well served.

Scenic Sintra

After a sleepless night (falling FINALLY asleep at 5 a.m. after counting a herd of sheep) I woke up at 11:30 a.m. and off we went to Sintra.  After a metro stop, a short train ride, and the bus ride from Hell, we were transported to another time where palaces and castles were the norm.  Amazing!

WP_20170512_15_35_03_Rich

Of course, the bus ride up to the beautiful Palace of Pena scared the crap out of me.  OMG!  Blaring his horn to alert anyone crazy enough to drive this lane, the driver confidently took the hairpin curves in the big bus up the narrow path.  I thought we were surely going to die.  But we survived to climb up a steep hill and roam about the palace where safety is more of a suggestion than a standard, i.e. don’t bring your toddler or aging parents.  They’ll die.  With gaps in the railing and steep drops into crevices, we watched our steps and checked it all out.

The views were breathtaking looking out onto the Moorish Castle and the sea.  Inside, the kitchens still full equipped with the biggest mort/pestle I have ever seen.  What. The. Hell.  Were they grounding up trees in there not spices??  Two of the original ovens used by King Ferdinand II’s staff are still displayed along with lots of other relics.  You can only imagine the three man lift required to haul up one of the large cauldrons to make soup for the King.  Damn.  The chapel from the early 1500’s was serene and peaceful.

Deciding after waiting awhile in line for the bus down the mountain, we blew off the Moorish castle (cool from a distance but it was starting to rain) which was further down the hill and thought we would just check out the town square instead.  Of course, first we would have to survive the bus trip down.  Packed in like the favorite Portugal sardines, I warned Thom to hold on tight as we stood or he would wind up in the lady’s lap he was huddled next to.  As the “Eye of the Tiger” came on the bus radio, the lively British gals that had stood behind us in line as we waited for the bus broke out into loud song.  Bus Karaoke was on!  Hilarious.

Tired from all that singing, we quickly exited on the main square in Sintra, checked out the News Museum with it’s Macho Media exhibit and headed down the quaint curvy streets.  There I found the best thing ever-Ginja!  Cherry liqueur shots served in a dark chocolate cup for only 1 euro.  You nibble a little chocolate, sip a little liqueur and repeat.  Of course, you could just throw it all at once in your mouth but I wanted to savor it.  Tasting like a cherry cordial that my dad used to love at Christmas time but with booze, it was a perfect union of tastes.  Yum!

Walking down the mountain in the rain, it was the end of a perfect day in Sintra, a fairy tale land where you can easily imagine another time where knights defended their kings and queens.  Magical.

WP_20170512_15_43_57_Rich

 

.

Shopping in Lisbon!

While Lisbon is so impossibly picturesque that you feel compelled to take pictures of everything, it is also heaven for shopping.  Not even in London did I find so many unique items for gifts and myself, of course. 

WP_20170511_14_39_20_Rich.jpg

Where to begin?  Well, there is the LX Factory under the bridge that looks like the Golden Gate.  Filled with shops and cafes, it also houses the coolest bookstore I have seen and I LOVE bookstores.  Obolodamarta not only had multiple levels filled with books, it also had a temporary exhibit of Kinetic Art.  The inventor himself walked us around and told us stories about each of his creations.  From a miniature printing press to a Charlie Chaplin story machine, it was so fun and interesting.  I love just stumbling into these experiences as we often do as we wander.

Thom was tempted to get a tattoo at the local artist shop at LX Factory but I veered him away and took some great pics of street art instead.  Who knows if he will leave Portugal with new ink but maybe another day.  Tattoos are not a decision to be made in the moment but after careful reflection.

The next day we left our Alfama district and meandered up and down the cobblestone streets.  Definitely need to have sturdy shoes with grip to hike these streets in Lisbon especially as they get slippery in the rain that was off and on all day.  Finding a store that made bags out of recycled signs and garbage as well as bicycle tires, I was tempted but held off buying.  Pricey but worthy. 

Ducking out of the rain into the Cork Store by the fort proved to be an expensive interlude as we bought multiple gifts for folks who read this blog so I will say no more.  Let’s just say I bought so much I asked for a quantity discount and got it.  Always the bargainer I am!  Just expect Christmas present from Portugal my family and friends.  Thom is obsessed with man jewelry and got yet another bracelet for his already full wrist.  Seriously, that man wears way more bangles than I do. 

Thom also loves shoes so when we found a store with the unique concept of buy a pair of awesome shoes, get a bottle of wine, we both considered it but wisely remembered how full our closets are back home.  We also passed on the sardine shop knowing that while they look cute, they aren’t our cup of tea.

At Typographia, we could have gone wild but restrained ourselves to buy only 2 t-shirts. Very similar to our favorite store in Shanghai that had original creative designs on quality t’s, this little shop had so many cool t’s to choose from that it was hard to narrow it down but the one we choose for James was the best.  In chatting with the shop clerk as she rang us out, she asked if I had really read the words spelled out on the typewriter keys.  I had and it was hilarious but irreverent, just like our son, who will be the recipient.  We laughed and then the conversation somehow turned to weed.  In Portugal, the legal limit of pot is one gram but it’s still not legal though they won’t arrest you with that amount or less we were told. Sharing that we didn’t smell it all the time like we did in Seattle walking the streets, she said we just weren’t walking the right streets.  Point taken.  Shirts bought.

When visiting Portugal, I would suggest packing an empty suitcase and LOTS of Euros.  Whether you go for cork or sardines (they are obsessed with this salty little feller) or Port wine, etc. you will enjoy engaging with the locals as you find treasures to bring home.  Here’s hoping our luggage isn’t over the weight limit going home!

 

 

 

First Day in Portugal

16,554 steps and almost 7 miles later, we arrived back at our very “bijou” arbnb in the Alfama district in Lisbon, ready to kick back and reflect on our adventure today.  I.  Love.  Lisbon.

Despite a late start after sleeping off the jet lag, we put in a full 8 hour walk across town.  With rain coming down heavy all morning, we were lucky enough to cover some ground before the next storm rolled through.  Grabbing a table at a café on a viewpoint overlooking the sea under a dense tree that served as our leafy umbrella, we sipped coffee and ate heavenly custard tarts that Portugal is known for–I’m in love with this pastry and vow to have one a day.  At least.

A local sat down to busk for awhile playing us a selection of tunes including Amazing Grace.  Thom, of course, struck up a conversation and we learned he had been to the U.S. but not north of SoCal.  Thankfully he didn’t bring up U.S. politics as we are taking a break from the madness.  We’re looking forward to hearing Fado music at a bar tomorrow night.  Our arbnb host told us that Fado is soulful and melancholy, telling tales of love, the sea and tragedy.  Happy stuff.

WP_20170510_15_56_14_Rich

But the people here are friendly.  How friendly?  When Thom and I were arguing over what cheese to buy at the grocery, a local stepped in and handed us local goat cheese with a recommendation that it was delish.  Cheese intervention–Sold!

Other initial Lisbon observations:

LOTS of hills so no rental bikes here but they do have lovely trolleys and tut tuts that can carry your tired ass upwards when you just can’t take another step or have a heavy bag filled with wine.  It happens.

People smoke INDOORS here!  Could not believe it when we walked into this cool bookstore with a café and everyone was on their computers drinking coffee and smoking away.  Cough, cough.

Pay to pee here as in most of Europe with .50 euros required. I will say that the magazine rack in the ladies room at the train station made me smile.  Really?  I guess for .50 euros you can use the facilities AND rest your legs while reading a magazine.

Wine is cheap, plentiful and tasty.  We’re talking $2.99 average for bottle of good, smooth vino.  Yes, Thom and I have already decided to spend quality time here when and if I ever get to retire.  You can dream.  Cheers!

Making New Friends in Ireland

We were fortunate to have friendly drivers for all our HailO/Uber rides in Ireland and NYC.  From all walks of life and ethnicities, it’s always eye-opening and interesting to meet new people in our travels.  On the taxi ride home (using HailO as our Irish go-to app for taxi service) we were greeted with a hearty smile and lots of good conversation with Mark Rooney, our driver.

day-1-11

Asking Mark what rush hour looked like in Dublin, as we were leaving around 8 a.m. when the roads would be choked with traffic in Seattle or NYC, he said that he has seen the rush hour creeping earlier and earlier there but certainly not this early.  When we were in Amsterdam last year, we were surprised that the streets were deserted until around 10 a.m.  The work day starts later in Europe as it did in China when we lived there.  I remember going into the office at 9 a.m. and being the only one there.

As we cruised along with far less bus (double-decker of course) traffic than I had seen mid-day, we started discussing the Irish economy as compared to the US and then we finished the trip discussing Trump and politics.  Of course.  The Irish are having a good laugh at our messy election process.  Their election cycle is 6 weeks from start to finish.  None of this year-long reality show that we have gotten ourselves into, especially with the latest drama.

Mark was saddened by the state of the Irish economy.  He told us that his teen-age sons had asked him how much a house would cost to buy in Dublin.  In an average neighborhood, it would be $300,000-$400,000.  Not cheap.  Home buyers can get mortgages (30-year) and have to put at least 20% down but, as Mark bemoaned, how can most people save money to the tune of $60,000 or more on average wages.  He felt that the government should require companies to take their profits and pay their employees more money.  Though colleges cost far less in Ireland with government assistance, there is still student debt looming over the youth as they start careers, adding to the concern that buying a house will be out of the question for his sons even if they go to college and graduate.

Complaining about the “rich” corporations again, Mark had asked Google to sponsor his son’s sports team and never got very far.  He wrote them a letter, trying the old-fashioned approach to communications.  He wondered why tech companies don’t give more back to the communities.  I told him all about my company and how much they donate through free software, matching funds for employee donations, etc.  He was surprised and said that the company should make people aware of these efforts.  He had no idea.  I related that the company is proud of its giving back but doesn’t want to capitalize on it through advertisements.  They are very humble in this regard.  I am proud of them.

The conversation inevitably turned to “WTF-how can the US have Trump as a candidate for President?”  Well, how do you answer that?  I am ashamed that he is one of the two possible leaders.  He is neither qualified nor quite frankly sane.  He does understand how to tap into the uninformed voter, the frustrated out-of-work voter looking for any type of assistance including the empty promises that Trump is making and the racist who wants to build walls and close borders.  Mark assured me that the people of the US would not let this world catastrophe happen and that Hillary would win.  I hope to God he is right.    If not, we may be using Thom’s Irish citizenship to immigrate to Ireland to escape the madness.  Feck it!  Cheers to HRC for taking on the bully and dedicating her life to public service.  Well done.

Adventures on our last day in Dublin

Hallelujah and hot damn-we made it alive with the car in one piece back to Dublin after our road trip across Ireland.  Not that Thom isn’t a great driver but all roads except the motorway are teeny tiny lanes and frightening not to mention the whole driving on the wrong side of the road.  Left, left, left.  Yesterday, we reached an impasse, going head-to-head with a taxi driver on such a road and he won with Thom having to back up along with the car behind us until we could find a place on the side of the road to pull over so he could pass.  Fecking mental I tell you!  Yes, that’s my favorite Irish phrase now. I heard a youth on the street say it and it reminded me of Ron Weasley in an Irish way.

Now back in Dublin after chasing the rain storms all the way from Galway, we immediately checked back into the Westin Dublin and off we went.  One minute it was sunny and the next raining, very much reminiscent of Seattle weather.  After an Irish coffee and the ploughman’s sandwich for me and the bangers and mash for Thom, we were suitably energized to walk to Merrien Park again so that Thom could take more photos of the beautiful Irish doors on the townhouses across from the park .  We wandered the neighborhoods where the fancy townhouses are home to the France Embassy, a Montessori School and private residences.

In one section of the park, there were tributes to author Oscar Wilde who lived around the corner while in Dublin.  Sent to jail in the UK for being gay, he never returned to Ireland after serving two years in jail and died in France at age 46.  His most notable works were The Importance of Being Earnest and The Picture of Dorian Gray.  The Irish are very proud of their literary history.  Our cab driver told us his family story of 5 children and 9 grandkids.  Proud of them all, he bemoaned that fact that none of the children every married and one of his daughter’s significant other was in prison for a “very bad” crime.  Quoting Yates, “Youth is wasted on the young”, he discussed being a parent and loving your children no matter what life brings, hoping only for the best for them all.  Amen.

Of course, there were many fine buskers performing in the streets and we stopped along with crowds of others on Grafton Street to listen and appreciate their talents.  We finished up some last minute shopping, going back to the vintage shop we had found earlier and visiting the classic whiskey store for some liquid souvenirs.  I’m always impressed by the art pieces in front of the Irish stores, making them very special and unique.  Now, it’s time for a rest before the long journey home.  It was a brilliant trip that we will never forget!

 

dublin-5

Great talent busking on the streets of Dublin

 

The shopping is good in Galway

Today we ventured down the cow path and into town.  As we started to exit the hobbit hole, we paused as two very large black cows stormed down the “road” with their humans herding them into the adjacent field.  So, exactly what do we do if we encounter this type of situation again but we are driving?  Scream and brace for impact probably.  Luckily, we swerved around any oncoming traffic and made it safely into the town of Galway, very photogenic and historic. 

After maneuvering into the always tiny parking spaces in the garage (our Audi is larger than most cars here), we wandered the streets where pubs and shops welcomed us.   First stop was for an Americano as there is only a hot water pot for tea in our cottage and no coffee except instant Nescafe available.  Caffeine headache averted, we found the shops to be charming and loaded with nice things for presents to others and ourselves. 

The best by far was the “My Shop…granny likes it” (www.myshopgranny.com) that had a curated assortment of all things Irish and cool, not touristy crap.  I immediately was drawn to an amazing chunky necklace made with blue and yellow stones.  Had. To. Have. It.  After chatting with the shop owner and her adorable schnauzer, Purdy, the shop dog, we also got a great pillow cover, which I collect from our travels and tea towels featuring an abstract print of the charming Galway row houses and another boldly proclaims an old Irish saying,  “FECK IT…sure IT’S GRAND”   Okay. 

Always ask the locals where they eat to get the best places.  Rona O’Reilly recommended a funky place just down the lane called Bite Club which had free WiFi, played disco tunes and had great food.  Ryan and Paddy took care of us and we chatted.  Ryan was mad at Paddy because he had saved his money and was off to America to visit any and all relatives he could find from coast to coast.  Paddy mixed me up a mean craft cocktail, Elderberry Bourbon Fizz, served in a crystal punch cup.  Delightful!  After singing along with Donna Summers and posting some blogs on the internet (the hobbit hole is without tv/internet), we were off for more browsing and shopping before braving the drive home via cow path.  If the driving over here wasn’t so nuts, we’d be back at the Bite Club in the evening when it turns into a 1980’s discotheque.  Groovy.

Down the Cow Path to Galway

“We’re taking country roads” Thom was in charge of mapping our adventure driving from Limerick to Galway via small hamlets where his Irish relatives were born.  Cool, an adventure driving through the Irish countryside.  Right?  Wrong! Little did I realize that this would mean taking what amounted to a cow path (and I’m being generous) for miles, avoiding head-on collisions only by luck and chance and several turnouts we took full advantage of when faced with another vehicle using the single lane.

 

galway-6

They call this a “road” in Ireland.  It’s a cow path.

 

Just to give you an idea of how tight it was, even when not trying to avoid oncoming traffic, the blackberry brambles made some significant scratches on the Audi side mirrors as the wall of vegetation on either side of the path left no room for a normal size vehicle.  Here’s hoping the rental car company doesn’t examine our car upon returning to Dublin.  And speaking of cow paths, may I say that some of the cows we saw in this bucolic Irish countryside, when I didn’t have my eyes closed praying we would live to see another day, were HUMONGOUS, as my granddaughter Mia would say.  I’m talking mutant big heads that had bodies so large they probably wouldn’t even fit down this cow path we were driving on. ireland-3

galway

Flask came in handy

Given the car that the rental dude tried to give us initially bodes well for us.  After paying a ridiculous amount of money for this car, we went to find it and I took one look, turned around and entered the crowded rental counter area, pronouncing in a not-a-soft-voice, “WTF-that car has bent rims, no hubcap and significant dents in multiple places-it looks like it’s been in a demolition derby!”  The rental guy had been peering out the window to see our reaction and already had the keys to an upgrade for us in hand.  “Please come with me-I have an Audi for you.”  We marched out and got into our much nicer car and proceeded to say our mantra for our road trip, “LEFT, LEFT, LEFT” 

day-3-1

Demolition derby car

Back to the cow path experience-after we drove through one of the birth towns of a relative and stopping at the local church to take pictures, I cracked open the wine and proceeded to make good use of the flask I had brought with me for just such an occasion.  After a few hearty sips, we hit the road again and I begged Thom to give up the next remote location and hit the motorway.  Even driving on the wrong side, I mean left side, of the road was nothing compared to the one lane fright so he agreed to hit the motorway and we proceeded to find our home for the next three nights, a thatched roof ARBNB cottage near Galway.

Greeting us with the fire ready to start and homebaked Irish soda bread, our host wished a quiet and restful vacation without TV or internet to distract us.  Ahhhhh…..feet up, blanket on and fire lit.  Heaven.

 

 

Random Irish Observations

On our vacation from Dublin to Galway, there were daily observations made by Thom and I on the uniqueness of Irish culture that I thought I would share:

AS SEEN DRIVING

Barak Obama car plaza near Tipperary, between Dublin and Limerick on motorway.  I guess he has relatives here and has been honored with a gas station named after him.  I am sure he is thrilled to celebrate his Irish heritage with this useful store vs. a museum or other nonsense.

Seen as we entered the motorway on big reader board:  “Project Edward Day” sign, which is acronym that means European Day Without A Road Death, with current tally at “0”, which will hopefully stay that way with us driving on the wrong side of the road, I mean:  Left, left, left.

day-3

No fancy cars, no trucks, no SUV’s or mini vans.  Just standard manual transportation to get you where you need to be.  Lots of dents and scrapes on cars and no wonder because everywhere but the motorway, the roads are just too damn narrow.

SOS boxes on the side of the road.  What?  Not everybody has global cell coverage??

AS SEEN SHOPPING

Shoe repair/locksmiths everywhere as well as tailors, signaling a culture that repairs vs. disposes of their wardrobe.

Bookstores-small independents-also on every street but not big chains and mostly featuring Irish authors vs. worldwide blockbusters.day-1

Newspapers, they are still relevant here with multiple different papers offered in all the grocery and book stores for your reading enjoyment.  Love it as we still enjoy a daily newspaper delivered to our door in the States but we are the only ones in our building to do so probably because we are also the oldest residents as well.  Blah.

 

Resale/consignment/vintage stores are plentiful.  Thrifty and trendy at the same time.  We stopped by the Salvation Army one and browsed the wide selection of clothes, housewares and some vinyl.  One small gallery of shops had not only a great vinyl shop but a vintage clothing store and a variety of stalls selling everything from nuts to posters.  Love places like this!

Gyms are few and far between with the main sport being lifting a pint.  Irish excel at that sport.  True-I’ve been to many a pub on this trip and witnessed this sport first hand.

Knobs and Knockers was one of the best titled stores, selling, you guessed it, just door knockers and door knobs.  The doors of Ireland are beautiful and a subject of many photographs.  Thom told me a red door means the house is paid off.  Now when I see a red door, I’m thinking to myself, “well done” to the occupants and enjoy no more mortgage payments.

Travel agencies are still around and, based on the number of them, I would say fairly popular.  Thinking the “seasoned” generation is not tech savvy and needs assistance scoring a ticket or reservation.

Grocery shopping with the locals is always a great way to understand a culture.  At Aldi’s, there were literally bulk stacks of meringue circles.  In the bread aisle, always a huge focus here where carbs rule, there were packages of pancakes and waffles in with all the other items we would normally see.  The cakes/buns/jelly roll selection was wide and varied.  Tea time!  Beside a stack of goose fat jars, you could also find baked beans in ready-to-go single service packs.  Yum.  Irish yogurt is tasty and comes in tiny glass jars.  Cute.

In many groceries, there are loaves of bread, scones, etc. heaped in open air baskets.  Kind of yucky to us uptight Americans who are used to everything being covered up or behind the counter vs. everyone can touch and feel and explore the pastries with their grubby, germ-infested hands.  No thank you.

MISC. STUFF

Smoking restrictions inside pubs are more of a “guideline” with many drinkers huddled outside around barrels and on adjacent outdoor patios enjoying a pint and a puff.  No restrictions here about staying 25 feet away from the building to inhale carcinogens.  That would be very inconvenient for the pub staff to service the refills.

300,000 people attending the Ploughman Competition outside Dublin where they do farm games.  Headlines daily in the newspapers-big deal here.

Sheep are sometimes spray painted blue or green or yellow.  What.  The.  Hell.

Hen Parties for bridal parties and Stag Parties for the guys are HUGE in Galway.

bus

There is a two day bus/rail strike planned for Thursday/Friday.  Thank goodness we have a car and aren’t reliant on public transportation as we usually are when we travel.  Then on Saturday there is a huge “Repeal” protest in Dublin to protest the strict abortion laws.  Thom usually attracts protests so surprised we won’t be there for it.  In this very Catholic country, they are fighting with the church which never goes well.