A brief review of some of the places I have visited since I came back to Ireland.
Upon my return to Europe in November I harboured desires to take in some of the Bavarian hinterlands and possibly Mürren in Switzerland. I wanted to visit the Adidas museum and Piz Gloria in quick succession.
The fact that it didn’t happen was mainly down to travel restrictions rather than cash flow but anywhere I do choose for travelling is usually based on planning for any future artistic endeavours. The Adidas trip might have been useful for my long -threatened football kit project. The trip to the Alps would have been a Lourdes like -pilgrimage to the location of my favourite Bond film. Anyway, they didn’t happen, so Plan B it was. I’d stay local.
Staycationing has become a buzzword in Ireland for the past 5 or 6 years. Often used incorrectly, it is meant to describe a holiday within your own home, or at a push, your own town. It doesn’t mean going to the other side of the country. So I didn’t ‘Staycation’ in Galway, nor Mullingar, nor Limerick or even Portlaoise. I visited them. Probably against Tony Hoolahan’s wishes but c’est la vie.
I could justify these trips by saying that I was location scouting for my next film project. Or my next pulpy crime novella. A knowledge of two-star accommodation and cheap eateries is usually a prerequisite for these things.
In truth, I was just getting out of my parent’s hair for a night. So what I hear you cry, did you do???
My first trip was a few days before Christmas. I decided I would head for Salthill. The pubs were all closed at 8pm so a night on the sauce was not a goer. I arrived into the city and took some snaps of the winter fair in Eyre Square. At my leisure, I then walked to my hotel in Salthill. I passed the iconic Hooker boats en route and might have even taken in a film in the Palace cinema if the selection had been better.
I checked into The Continental and was quite happy with what my 62 euro got me( though I regret not staying in The Rio, the exterior is amazing). The room was snug but clean with decent heat coming off the rad. There was a fridge, kettle and a TV that worked. The bed was a twin too. So far so good.
I went into the early evening to try and find some grub. After being tempted by a number of Asian joints I opted for cheap and cheerful Pizza. The casinos were still operating but I thought better of it. After the pizza I had a decent Smithwicks in PJs, the bar next to the hotel. It was about half seven and they didn’t look like they were closing any time soon. My heart was set on watching Pulp Fiction though and that’s what I did. Good aul TG4.
Great films always offer something new on repeat viewings. What I figured out was that while Vincent was the one obsessed by Amsterdam it’s Butch who ends up with an impromptu Ajax jersey.
It was a bit cold in the room. I probably didn’t help matters by eating a HB Maxi Twist. But they could have provided an extra blanket. In the weeks to follow I soon realised that if you don’t ask, ye don’t receive!
Next morning I walked back to the city, took a few snaps and tried to find somewhere that sold pancakes. I hit the jackpot at Esquire’s Coffee on Eyre Square. Very friendly service too. I went to the bus station quite happy with my stay. The coach itself was packed. Going to and from. I kinda regret not spending the extra 16 odd quid on the train.
The following week I decided on the Treaty city. I booked into The Old Quarter townhouse which is about a 15 minute walk from the train. I think it was just over 60 quid and for that I got a room with two singles, a decent TV, kettle and a lovely bathroom with shower.
There was also a rad, and I love rads, especially when I can turn them on and off by myself.
The 8pm rule was still in place regarding pubs so I was expecting it to be less noisy than usual, despite the warnings of boisterousness in the email. My gamble paid off and apart from a few lairy guests around 2am it was grand.
My chief complaint, if I could call it that, was in a nearby Italian bistro. I ordered pasta with some garlic bread. The pasta was cooked ‘properly’ in an Italian fashion, meaning it was quite hard. I prefer the traditional soft Irish style. I mentioned it after the meal and they welcomed my feedback. But I’m guessing that they thought me a right fool.
My entertainment for the evening was a double bill of film on rte 2. Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol and Entebbe. A film about Jewish hostages in Angola. I preferred the Cruise vehicle but Rosamund Pike is always watchable.
That particular part of Limerick has a real British vibe in its layout. Maybe it’s all the redbrick or the stores; Superdrug, Next, Topshop etc. Can’t quite put my finger on it.
The next week I went to Mullingar! I initially was going there because a well-known German supermarket chain was having an open day in a hotel. That’s what happens when I have too much time on my hands. I start planning alternative futures. Anyway, it was too far out of the city to go by foot. So I didn’t go.
I stayed in Kerrigans on the corner, quite near the main street but about ten minutes walk from the train. The pub is quite nice and it has a small cafe attached (for the early morning commuters I assume).
For 50 quid( the cheapest I visited) I got a nice room. It had a good double bed with a lovely armchair in the corner. Also, a fridge whereby I could keep a few cans from the off licence( i duly bought some Macardles). The TV wasn’t working great and the shower was a bit weak but overall not bad. There was central heating but this went off around midnight and the room wasn’t exactly roasting after that. Still though, friendly staff and that price would have included breakfast had I not slept in.
As for the town itself, you can see why it’s popular with workers based in Dublin. The train is about 75 minutes back into the big smoke, which is doable. The Turkish Grill restaurant was very decent. For about a tenner I got a scrumptious chicken shish meal that was as good as many I had in Zaytoon. They had Midlands radio on. 90s night. Toni Braxton, En Vogue, Inxs. In my head, I was writing a great chapter about a boy having a night in with a girl. Netflix and chill in a pre Internet age.
I bought a shirt in O’Sullivan’s gentleman outfitters. Wow, this place is a rare treat. Classic layout with the garments all stacked and in their packaging on the shelves. A nice lady doing her books behind the long desk, but no less attentive to the customer’s needs. I was chuffed.
I think this was the beginning of the end for me. I never really minded Portlaoise before. It wasn’t on my old work route as such so I often bypassed it in the past. I decided to give it a twist here. I stayed in the Town Hotel which cost about 64 Yo-Yos. The barman was looking after things and he was a nice man. He explained that the kitchen was temporarily closed but that I could get a complimentary drink at any stage. The room itself was a bit of a letdown. Skinny single bed, a rad that never came on, average shower and a telly that didn’t work at all. This was a real ‘drop yer bags’ stag party type of deal. Alas, I just wanted to watch a film and relax but the WiFi was useless too. Very poor all round.
I ate out in a local Indian restaurant which really wasn’t worth the twenty-seven quid I paid either. The next morning saved the trip with lovely crepes and bacon in the restaurant above Supervalu. But yeah, wouldn’t be rushing back as they say.
next up: Tralee?
With the start of the GAA national league now upon us, I am due to head down south to support the boys in blue. They are in a weird place at the moment. Getting written off by many, including some so-called fans like myself. League football is not for fair-weather fans. I’ll struggle if I engage with any experts down there. But it should be a good trip. My first one not flying solo so that will help.
So overall what is there to say about my adventures. Not very much! Probably quite dull even. But I had no greater ambition than to get out of the house and potter around. It’s a tough time for hoteliers and I don’t like being critical (or unrealistic) but it is a bit of an eye-opener to see what some places charge.
Anyway, when I get back to Asia I might do something similar and share those titbits with you. Until then…