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Traveling in Ireland


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The west of Ireland – with all its wind and rain and general bi-polar weather – holds a special place in my heart. It’s where I had my first weekend getaway (a mini-break, as Bridget Jones would say) with Mountaineering Man and where he proposed to me in February of last year.

So to celebrate our engagement anniversary and both of our birthdays (he’s a Valentine’s baby, just like my mom!), we headed west. We first hit Galway, where we strolled around the cobblestone streets, caught an impromptu show by some talented buskers and then feasted on beautiful salads at Kai. MM had a smoked chicken salad, which came with rustic field greens, smoked almonds, red cabbage. I opted for the goat cheese curd salad with blood oranges, toasted hazelnuts and lots of lovely greens. Both came with Kai’s addictive moist-on-the-inside, crusty-on-the-outside brown bread. The food was fresh and innovative and the décor was rustic and charming. We’ll be back!

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Panetoni French Toast Irish Food

There is a certain quiet that blankets Dublin in the wintertime. People seem friendlier and less argumentative. Maybe everyone is too busy rubbing their cold hands together for warmth or walking a bit faster to get out of the chill as quickly as possible – no time for quarrelling, just a swift “hiya” and a gracious wave.

The streets are hushed as well. Icy roads warrant a slower, perhaps more gentler slog to school and work. Drivers wave two, maybe even three cars to go ahead in the queue down the one-lane streets and appreciation is shown with a little flash of emergency lights – a sort of lit-up wink for their kindness.

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It could be that people want to slow down so they can take a look at the Christmas decorations in the villages around Dublin. Each seems to have its own big pine tree, decorated with long strands of golden lights and a few rustic ornaments. Some have a nativity set or a Santa Claus while others roll out the enormous candy canes and sleighs packed with gift boxes. The morning frost makes everything glisten as if it had been designed that way. And in the evenings the twinkling lights emit a soft glow, giving the impression of warmth on a cold, dark night.

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Galway 26

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know I tend to tell it like it is. Sometimes I use this space for a full-on rant, like the post I wrote about how terrible customer service seems to be in Ireland. The post garnered a whopping 40 comments from you, which proved I wasn’t the only one feeling irked by careless service industry workers!

Well today I am happy to be able to share not just one great customer service experience but a whole weekend’s worth of kind, caring service stories with you readers. Last weekend Mountaineering Man and I took a little escape to the lovely city of Galway and though we didn’t expect it were treated to some of the best customer service I’ve experienced since moving here.

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It started when we checked into the Hotel Meyrick, a beautiful historical hotel smack dab in the middle of the city square. We’d booked the hotel because they offered a great value weekend package that included a standard room with full breakfasts for two days as well as dinner one night at their Oyster Grill restaurant for a very reasonable price. When we arrived the friendly check-in clerk told us we’d been upgraded to a junior suite at no additional cost! I appreciated that the Meyrick understands how valuable giving free upgrades can be; if the suite isn’t booked out it’s basically no extra cost to the hotel to give it to a paying customer. The customer leaves happy and recommends the hotel to friends – it’s a simple but effective marketing tool.

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