Firstly I'd like to thank the following Team of 17;
Andy "Vad" Davies, his mate American Dave, Gordon R* Hall, Bry "Stoat" Reynolds, Simon "Wheezy" Noble, Bear "Mencap" Clare, Jon "Le Mullet Gris" Oldham (just about), Grant "G" Towell, Kev "Chesh" Carthew, Craig "Grape" Albeck, Tim "The Cat" Smith, Marcus "Doctor" Dyson, Matt "Bish" Bishop, Adrian "Turned us down" Hirst, Jules "Jolly 5-Aces" Holtom, Tom "Jeezus" Gluckmann and Steve "Ste" Pickford for making it a great trip - it was a fair old commitment to stick to and there were a few nerves in evidence due to the fuss that had been made of it. In the end, we had a great time and there were no major casualties.
With Bear, John and Ste coming from Manchester, Chesh, Craig, Bish and Adrian from Leeds, Tom from Belgium (via Shannon) - 8 of us climbed into the minibus at Team17's offices destined for Leeds Bradford "International" airport, much ridiculed by Oldham on the basis of his Stockport roots, despite now living on a rock in south-western France.
After assembling reasonably quickly and without major dilemma, we checked in and headed for the first port of call; the Lounge bar at the airport. With AerArann's policy of only checking you in 5 minutes before departure, this afforded almost 2hrs in the bar. Needless to say that most people had at least 4 pints, predictably mostly "Guinness" to get in the mood.
Once we'd boarded the plane, which was much larger than we'd anticipated given it had propellers, which for some reason look untrustworthy these days, we soon climbed smoothly away on a flight to the western Irish coast which lasted pretty much just over an hour or so.
A few took advantage of the red-wine on offer on the plane too, so there was a fair bit of excited merriment on board, but again, nothing untoward. I did manage to video the propellers too, which sounds like a strange thing to do, but on the video, it looked like they were turning about 4 times a second - it got some odd looks from those that weren't sat next to them or couldn't see them.
At Galway airport - and I use that term lightly - think cowshed, baggage-arrival "belt"/urinal and door to the taxis, our bags were out instantly and within minutes we were in cabs and heading for Menlo Park Hotel, a mile or two outside Galway's centre.
First stop and meeting grounds were "The Skeffington Arms" or "Skeff" as it's locally known. This is right in the middle of Eyre Square, the main meeting/hustle of the town. After about half an hour, most had arrived and were dispersed around the pub, having more Guinness, a bite to eat and so on.
Given we'd already had a few, it's fair to say that time absolutely bloody flew by. We eventually left the Skeff in dribs and drabs late afternoon, making our way down the main high street, eventually ending up in a pub we'd been recommended. It had some live music on, but I don't really recall too much about i - and neither does anyone else! In this pub we drank a lot of Black and White Russians and before we knew it, it was almost closing.
I disappeared about midnight with Simon and Craig, intent on finding an Indian restaurant but it seems most had shut - and we got lumbered with Kebabs. I can vaguely recall spooning the said undesirable food into me before we clambered into a cab back to the hotel and pretty much all just passed out.
Saturday starts with a problem...
Gordon rings "Bryan was supposed to be stopping here - but he's nowhere to be seen". Oh no, not again, of all the people... so I call him, no answer... Missing Bryan panic starts. This proceeds for about 2hrs until it's confirmed at breakfast that he'd actually got back to the Menlo with a couple of the other lads. Phew.
Then I get another call "Which bastard hotel are we staying in?" Menlo Park I replies... "So why the hell am I in the Best Western??" says Jolly (at 160euros a night, I might add...) He eventually rejoined us around lunch-time and made it back to the correct hotel the following night. The big silly arse.
We go Gal-the-way around town...
Since it was about 9.30am by this time, a bunch of us decided to get some fresh air and walk into town, have a look around the place and get our bearings before the pubs open (we were all due to meet around noon in the Skeff again). The walk took a while, much longer than the 15mins suggested (perhaps 10mins in a taxi was more like it) and after stumbling upon Eyre Square again we headed down the main street which leads to the coast and harbours.
This is a pretty cobbled street with buildings going back a few hundred years and absolutely packed with interesting looking eateries and all kinds of boozers. We decided that we'd come down this neck of the woods later in the afternoon and some light discussion made of a pub crawl, although thankfully this didn't happen and probably couldn't given the numbers of people in our collective.
On the way down to the coastal front, we also crossed the river/estuary bridge and it's a bit of a sight to behold. The last time I'd seen a river with anything like as fast flowing water was in Arizona; The Colorado! This was totally raging and really quite impressive. A bunch stood taking photos and videos of it before heading out to the edge of the coast.
After about an hour or so of this we decided to head back up through town, noting possibilities for later in the day. At around 11am, we arrived outside the Skeff and met Gordon, who'd checked out (and left Bry's articles at the hotel) as he'd decided to get back that day rather than with the group on Sunday.
Since the Skeff was conveniently open, we made great use of the waitress service and enjoyed quite a few games of Perudo (5hrs worth) and all got "topped up" to the extent that there was no going back. There really was no going back for Gordon, who missed his delayed flight and invested in another night's festivities.
Jolly was the first victim to succumb to extreme top-up and bowed out around 2pm, after being unable to utter anything other than "5 aces" for 2 hours and stare open-mouthed at everyone, grunting. We didn't see Julian again on Saturday.
The crowd and the game was getting a little excitable by this time, extreme-perudo had set in, with Jon in full Silverback mode, Bear lashed, Gordon gone-mad and even Ste Pickford going a little awol; there's a ton of pictures from this session in my Flickr set (I'll add the link at the end).
At around 4-5pm, we set off down the main street, catching 2-3 bars along the way for a mixture of drinks, adding more fuel on the fire. G passed out of the evening entertainment around this time, falling asleep for the 2nd time, after earlier going away in the Skeff and coming back revitalised.
We eventually ended up in the Quays Inn, which was a simply enormous pub (1200 capacity) which was packed to the rafters, including Andy Payne and his Kilamonjaro mob, who we stayed with until around closing time.
Plenty enough time to take lots of silly photos, fend off crazy hen parties, eat some disgusting oysters (I had to be pissed to eat those) again more photos in the link at the bottom. A great time was had by all I think, not that everyone really recalls it all too clearly.
I left around 2.30am with Bryan, intending to find a cab, but it was so stupidly busy around the main square, there was no way we were getting a cab and elected to blind-drunk walk the way back in freezing weather, with the hope of flagging a cab down on the way back.
We walked for ages, in probably wrong directions and eventually found a cab only for it to slow, see the window come down and it say "You're with that Yorkshire lot!" and drive off again. That said, we were only just around the corner, as it happened.
When we got back into the hotel, we were miffed to find the hotel bar was closed, but it was 3am or something, but we could hear some music in the background... a walk down the hallway revealed a function room with a wedding party in it. Consider it crashed! Luckily there was some old bint from Leeds at the wedding and we made out we were with her when we went in...
We had a bit of a hoot with the wedding stuff, dancing to stupid tunes, chatting to guests and acting like we really were part of it - it took a few points at the Leeds woman when quizzed at other guests, but we pretty much pulled it off impeccably.
Even after the bar had shut and the disco crap was over, we improvised with some hummed Neil Diamond to get them going - not that it worked and it wasn't long before, at 5am, they all buggered off, leaving myself, Bry, Craig and Bear, who'd walked in and dozed off.
"It could never happen to me!"
Apparently after viewing the events in London that Bryan endured, this is what Bear had said to himself regarding extreme food-buckaroo. So, after falling asleep for the 3rd time (including twice in the Quays Inn) it was time for Bear to wear a chair, in the style of Dr.Seuss.
Flowers, drinks, chairs and all kinds of stuff we could find got put on Bear before we ran out of bits and bobs, fetched the drunken hotel staff (who were having their own private party next door) who all had a laugh - and then went to bed. We left him there so god knows what he thought when he woke up.
Groggy morning. Groggy weather.
Sunday wasn't a pretty sight at the Menlo. Everyone looked like they'd been hit by a train, everyone was hungover and very tired - pretty much as expected, although this time everyone had got back ok, even Jolly. Tom had left first thing to get back to Shannon but left some nice beers anyway.
We were getting stuff arranged to get back to the airport when a guy informs us that the airport has closed due to fog. Oldham's face was a picture on hearing this news and just said (loudly) "No!" - we got the receptionist to call and check and it seems that the fog was lifting and we were ok, so 4 cabs later and we were all at Galway's tiny airport.
One of the cabbies had a pop at Jolly for being stupid in getting lost and very drunk (he had the same cab-driver each time it says) and our cabbie asked "Which airport do you want to go to?" and we asked him "Eh? How many are there?" to which he replied "Oh, just the one".
We couldn't check in until 2mins before the plane was going to leave, so we sat in the bar and had a few more games of Perudo, enjoying the wallpapered lounge and other minimal fittings.
The flight back and travel back was largely uneventful and upon getting home I slept from 5pm to the next morning, which didn't endear me to Katrina, my long-suffering other half.
I had a totally great time though and thanks again for some memorable laughs.
Photo link here