Like most good things, this blog has been a long time in the making. Back in 2011, Steph and I sat down and wrote down some of our better adventures. I recently stumbled upon her account of the “Bread Incident” in Galway, Ireland. There is no way I could do this event justice after reading Steph’s account. So I did any best friend would do, I posted it here. Don’t worry I asked her permission first.
“Budgeting in Ireland”
On our roadtrip, whenever Aheli and I would spend a reasonable amount of money we would proclaim ourselves well within our “budget.” Getting deals, or finding bargains would cause us to excitedly point out how “under budget” we were. This is sounds very responsible of course, but the catch is that we did not actually have a budget.
In fact, we didn’t really talk about money in the concrete sense at all, making an actual budget impossible. Instead we were left with this abstract idea of money as something we should be concerned with, but also as something that had no sense of urgency or need for immediate consideration. Are we good Masters students or what?
And there’s the problem: We were Masters students, or even more accurately, we were former Masters students, having handed in our Dissertations with a resounding “Good riddance!” We were in a transition from irresponsible academics, to grown up self-sufficient contributing members of society. A daunting prospect in many aspects, but no less so in this issue of trip budgeting. We had spent the past five or six years living the bargain student lifestyle, but we were also completing a year abroad, and if we couldn’t splurge on Europe now, when could we? We may have conveniently forgotten that that was also our attitude when we were there for the semester – and then we went back. But that’s beside the point. Still, we decided to at least start the road trip out of debt and book things in a fiscally responsible way. We had decided to truly embrace our free spirits and book only the most crucial components ahead of time – things like ferries and a place to stay for the first night. After that, we could reevaluate as we got to know the open road.
So anyway, we started out successfully, and well under “budget” booking a hostel for our first night in Liverpool. But this hostel was different. Here there was no fighting for sheets, pillows, beds, or even reservations. Here there was no top bunk for a random person to bring an even more random stranger home to (yes that happened). Here there was no risk of getting sung to or tucked-in in the middle of the night (yes that also happened), unless Aheli was feeling particularly nurturing. No, here we had our own room – our own bathroom even! – and a nice window seat and comfortable individual beds. We were spoiled and our eyes were opened to a whole world of possibilities that did not end with us feeling traumatized and/or violated by hostel (hostile?) conduct.
We were further enlightened by our Welsh tour guide extraordinaire Geraint, a friend from Aheli’s MSc course who had offered to meet us in Liverpool and drive with us down through Wales to give us the true insiders tour. Our first night with him, he suggested we find a Bed and Breakfast. We must have looked shocked and impressed by his grandeur. Here we were touring with a secret duke or something! But no, he calmly explained, using small words since we were looking a touch crazed, when you think about it, a B&B does not cost significantly more than a hostel, the quality is better, and a giant breakfast is included making additional meals less necessary. We were again in awe, not just of his grandeur (once a duke, always a duke), but of his superior logic. And the thought of a giant breakfast. We were won over, and thought no more of hostels for the rest of the trip.
Which brings us to Galway. Having navigated a mass of one way streets, AND found parking near two B&Bs that we felt to be suitably distanced from city center, we were feeling fairly responsible and accomplished. And when feeling responsible and accomplished, the next logical step seemed to be to discuss “budget.” Sure we may have only found two B&Bs, and yes we were hungry, but we would not be bullied by exorbitant fees! We agreed on a price which we would absolutely not go over, put on our most serious and grown up game faces, and marched (in our flowery skirts and ridiculous wellies) over to the B&Bs. One had “Prague” in the name, the other was called “Kilcullen House”. Well, when in Ireland! We turned our backs on Prague and continued to march.
We knocked on the door, which opened on the smiling face of the woman in charge. As she opened the door further, the smell of fresh baked cinnamon bread wafted out. I think in that moment if she had told us the room cost 100 Euro, and our respective first born child we would have said ok. Don’t judge.
But we still had to at least pretend that we cared about “budget” if only to temporarily save face in front of each other! So we followed the woman in and inquired as to the availability of a room. She showed us around the downstairs, including the lovingly laid sitting room with freshly made cookies, rice crispy treats, and home grown Irish apples, and up to a charming room – the kind where you just KNOW the beds are comfortable.
We walked back downstairs to discuss the price. This couldn’t possibly be within budget but it was too late: We were sold and resolve was wearing thin. She quoted the price. What?
Only 5€ over “budget??” “We’ll take it!” we announced, not even pretending to think about it.
Of course, 5€ over budget, we considered later, over tea and cookies in the sitting room, why 5€ couldn’t even get you tea and cookies at a coffee shop!
We congratulated ourselves on being such savvy businesswomen.
(Note the empty Cookie Jar)