On Tuesday, Tuti and Granny took the bus to the ferry to the tour of Inishmoor (the larger of the Aran Islands), while SNG and I had the kids on one of the best wether days we've had on this trip. Actually, THE best weather day of the trip so far. I might not have said it, but we've had rain every single day and it's always high around 50, and usually windy. Tuesday was a high around 55 or 60, with mostly cloudy skies and no rain.
We had a Sincere Talk with the kids about riding in strollers for a long, long walk. Amazingly, they both complied perfectly and we walked to Salthill again. Jambuca was so excited about the possibility of petting a fish that he was willing to do anything. E-baby never complains about riding in a stroller, because she is old enough to appreciate a break from walking.
We arrived at the aquarium 15 minutes before opening time, and instead of the BIG FANCY PLAYGROUND next door, Jambuca wanted to stand by the door and wait for them to open the aquarium. We convinced them to look around the gift shop instead, but didn't buy anything. They are learning to be very good at delaying gratification. When they finally opened, the kids were the happiest in County Galway. The Atlantaquarium is the national aquarium of Ireland, and is almost entirely comprised of local fish. We saw trout, sea stars, rays, tiny sharks, skates, octopus, trout, salmon, etc. I pet a number of rays before e-baby touched one and Jambuca never quite got up the nerve. It was a terrific aquarium and I'd recommend it to others with kids.
Next we got some tiny souvenirs at the gift shop and played at the playground awhile. E-baby had a shadow most of the time - a girl about 18-20 months old who decided e-baby was the best girl ever. After playground it was lunch in Salthill at the Gourmet Tart Co. (yes, we ate real food!) and then the long walk back to Galway City. On the way back it was low tide, so we let the kids go down to the shore and walk "on the sea floor" to collect some shells. The high-low tide difference right now is about 4 meters, so you can walk a LONG way out during low tide.
The kids decompressed after our long trip on some Gaelic cartoons. It was weird to watch them watch the shows because it was exactly like watching them watch shows in English. I guess cartoons are mindless enough that it doesn't matter whether you can understand the words. SNG and I took turns walking around town a bit. When it was my turn to go, Jambuca insisted on coming with me. He was a very good boy and walked at his usual two speeds: 1) standstill posing as a superhero and 2) running like a superhero. He was on the hunt for Secret Passageways and found a few in the form of manhole covers, small metal panels on walls, and the trim moulding underneath a shop window display.
It was a wonderful day with the kids.
Wednesday was one of the worst weather days we have had so far on the trip. It was cold and super-windy with afternoon rain in the forecast. It was also our day to tour the Aran Islands, so we had the bus to the ferry to Inishmoor. We had planned on taking a minibus tour, but when we got there changed our minds and rented bikes. I know that sounds unwise, but it is definitely the best way to see the island. We tootled at our own pace and stopped anywhere we felt like it. I got some scary pictures hanging over the edge of the ring fort Dun Aengus. I could see two sea mammals in the water below that were either dolphins, porpoises, or whales. In some sections of our ride there were no people or houses visible at all, and we felt like the only people on Inishmoor. The last stop on our self-guided tour was the world's smallest church, on a hilltop in the strongest wind I have ever stood up in.
Riding crappy rented bikes in 60 mph wind and cold rain, seeing some of Ireland's oldest monastic sites... it was the best day ever.
Today we have the kids to ourselves while the moms are taking a day tour of Connemara. Most of the tour looks like a revisitation of places in the film The Quiet Man. I have tried to see this movie, but it is very hard to get hold of a copy without either buying it or paying for a months of Netflix mail order DVDs.