Joel and Olga, County Kildare
Disheartened a little by our experience in Dublin, Kyle and I were making our way to Kilkenny through the rolling hills of the countryside when we met Joel and Olga, our first friends in Ireland. In Athy, we had made a pit stop to gather some groceries for lunch and dinner at a local Lidl, one of our favorite food stores in Ireland, where Kyle had been approached by a man wishing us a safe journey. After leaving the city, we found a patch of grass for a picnic lunch. Following our lunch, I took a short nap. We were just leaving when the man Kyle met at the store pulls up in his car and invites us in to his house, which consequently, was right across the street from where we’d been picnicking! Joel and Olga were a delight to sit with as they had quite the banter going back and forth. Joel is originally from Jamaica, but is now living in Ireland with his Irish wife Olga and their young daughter Sally. Enjoying the opportunity to host a couple of loaded up cyclists, Joel offered us filtered water from his “American refrigerator” and Pringles. After swapping stories, Kyle and I bid them a fond farewell and took down their email so we could send them a postcard as we get farther into Europe. Funny how fate steers you to the right place at just the right time when you are cycling. We are so happy to have met this great couple!
Scott and Sam, Tree Grove Campground, Kilkenny
On our second night at our campground in Kilkenny, we met Scott and his wife Sam, another couple of traveling cyclists. Scott is a city attorney just outside of San Francisco; now that he is at the end of his career, he is able to travel the world by bike while occasionally taking phone calls. Just last year, Scott and Sam toured across America from coast to coast and now they are in Ireland, just arrived from Wales. Embarrassed to be caught taking a short break from their bikes (they were loaded in the back of a van they had rented), they posed for a picture in front of our bikes instead! Their next plan is to take a ferry from Cork to France, cycling down the coast of France and Spain, down to the Mediterranean. We wish them a safe journey, lots of sunshine, and many good stories:)
Eimear, Cork City
We already dedicated a whole post to our experience with Eimear, our first Warm Showers host in Ireland, but we will write a short blurb here as well. Eimear is a freelance journalist, musician, music teacher, and community advocate with interests in geography, planning and traveling. Her kitchen table is a map of the world! Eimear is currently taking a break from traveling as she pays off student loans, but has seen most of Europe and spent some time in Iceland. Her love for the city is quite evident and she seems to have a friend in everyone she meets. One of her more recent projects involved brightening an alley with some fresh paint after recruiting some sponsorships from surrounding businesses. We are not sure we would have really seen Cork if it weren’t for having Eimear as a guide; she knows about every nook and cranny! Thank you Eimear for a wonderful visit.
Marco and Anneleen, Sleepzone Hostel, Galway
We encountered Marco and Anneleen just last night as we were eating brenner (a breakfast dinner) out in the dining room. We actually don’t tend to make friends at hostels, instead using that time to retreat in our heads for blog writing as we often don’t get that time on the road, but we couldn’t resist their instant warmth and friendliness. From The Netherlands, Anneleen studies medicine and Marco works for the healthcare system which has been undergoing some massive restructuring in the last three years (sounds familiar). When they discovered that we were headed there on our bicycles to see the country and learn about urban planning, they made some terrific recommendations on where to go and where to avoid to maximize our time there. Before leaving us for the evening to go see Minions at the cinema in Galway, they invited us to their place for a night’s stay once we made it to The Netherlands. We hope to take them up on that!
Savannah, Roisin Dubh, Galway
With it being our last night in Galway, we decided to try out a pub recommendation from John Doody, our planner interviewee from that morning (we will write about him in another post). This Tuesday evening was Comedy Night at 9 PM Irish time (the show began more around 10 PM). We weren’t the only silly Americans that arrived early – so had Savannah from Tampa, Florida, a solo female backpacker through Europe. At home, she teaches 9 and 10 year olds, but now she is living it up in Europe for two months, keeping a “kid-friendly” blog for her students. She has already decided she needs to make traveling a part of her lifestyle, with plans to visit a different country each summer. We had a blast sharing experiences and laughing at Irish humor – the MC for the night reminded us of the Woo! Girls on How I Met Your Mother. Scotland is next on her agenda – Savannah, we hope you meet many more friends on your travels. Maybe we’ll see you again in another country!