So, as many of you know, I moved to Phoenix, Arizona almost two years ago. In that time I have only been home once for 9 days, last Christmas. When I was home at Christmas in 2012, I didn’t notice many significant changes other than the roundabouts being changed in Galway. Possibly this was due to the fact Christmas overshadowed and distracted me from seeing everything that had changed or possibly not a lot actually did change. But this year, it was very different. Driving around the country I noticed a lot of homes, which appeared to be being lived in that were never painted. I also noticed places in Westport and Galway that just look like shit, they probably haven’t been painted in a few years and with that harsh coastal wind and rain battering those buildings all year, the places just look awful.
The footpaths around part of Galway city are cracked and broken. I’m guessing it’s been that way since last winter. What really frustrated me with trying to arrange my trip home was the cost. It’s ridiculously expensive. I tried to book a hotel for a weekend. Keep in mind, this is a weekend in November, there was nothing going on in the city of particularly appeal. It was the second weekend of the continental market…Months ago, the prices for rooms for 2 nights was crazy expensive. I decided to wait until closer, so I check again a few weeks ago and the cost on most hotels in the city actually went up so I booked in Salthill. These are the hotels that are constantly in the news as getting a much needed boost by the city council or tourist boards arranging events or festivals in the city. Well fuck them! They up the prices during the festivals to gouge tourists, by all accounts the tourism sector has had a huge year and they have their prices up regardless. They can go suck my fuckin left nut.
Next up. Hertz Rental cars…I booked a rental car on Hertz website which included the following:
So Theft protection and Collision Damage. So that would mean insurance to me. Well, when I booked a ‘Saloon’ type car with this kind of coverage. I go to pick up my car at Dublin Airport and I’m asked if I need insurance. I said, Yeah, of course I need insurance! I don’t have my own. So the guy say’s ok no problem. I’m then given a paper to sign showing the cost went up by 300 euro!! Unreal, I sighed and then just signed it, I figured I might be able to get my own insurance when I got back to Galway. I then got handed the key to a SEAT Mii. I was expecting a Toyota…the guy reassures me that it’s actually one of their more solid reliable rentals, Not knowing what the fuck a Mii was I figured it might be like a Corolla or something. I then walk to my rental car, there’s nobody else around and I see it! A car the size of my ball sack…I couldn’t fit all my bags in the boot, I had to put most of them on the seats. After over 15 hours of traveling I wasn’t go to walk all the way back and spend another 30+ minutes waiting to get this shit sorted out. So, I packed up and drove all the way to Galway, around Athlone I started feeling a pain in my back…whatever, it wasn’t the most concerning part of the trip. The wipers and wiper fluid didn’t work properly and the road was full of trucks throwing dirt onto my windshield. Any time I drove past a truck the whole car would wobble.
So I get home and take a look at my back in the mirror. I had a huge bruise and was in a fair bit of pain. I was pissed, I was determined to get this mess sorted out, so I called up Hertz and was told I could exchange the car, that they didn’t give me the type I had ordered, they told me to bring it back. I then asked them if I could exchange it in Galway..they told me no!! they closed their office in Galway, the closest was Knock airport. I was livid. I told them I’d call back and after talking about it with my parents, I decided to just bring the rental car back and get my money back…it was way too expensive for a shitty car and to be treated like this, they don’t deserve my money.
I brought the car to Knock Airport the next day….they charged me 99 euros!!!!! 99 euros for 1 day AND they didn’t return my original booking fee of 130. I am now waiting to get reimbursed. They had the balls to charge me a drop off fee of 25 and a fee for paying with a credit card (which I only did because the lady asked if I wanted to use the one on file, without her informing me that there was a surcharge…I had the fuckin cash in my wallet!) I can’t believe it. I had joked with Steve that I’d be charged with a Welcome Home tax and a Leaving Ireland tax….so I think that covers the Welcome Home! so what about the Leaving Ireland?
So….When I moved to the US, I was advised by a lady in a Bank of Ireland branch to put a bunch of money on my Irish Credit Card, so I could spend commission free. I then had my card locked 4 times, all out of business hours for Bank Of Ireland support! Anyways, my parents went down to my local bank on my behalf, she was told I should close my account. Being back around the holidays last time, I didn’t have the time to do it. I figured this time around, I would go in and do as they wish. I got in line and told the lady at the counter (after 20 mins of waiting) that I wanted to close my account, she told me I needed to go to the desk. So I got out of line and went to another line. The lady at the desk made me fill out two forms. She then led me over to the ‘Online’ Banking terminal which was a fucking telephone. She rang a number and told me to wait and then ask the person on the end, what my closing balance was and ask for the persons name. So I did….On an account with no activity for almost 2 years I was then informed that I needed to pay over 70 euros in fees in order to close the account. Are you fucking serious!? I laughed and said this is typical. I said ok and got my wallet out. The woman then informed me she could not handle cash and walked me back over to the other counters..I thought she would bring me to the front…nope right to the back of the line to wait for another 30 minutes.
Bank of Ireland, you are a bunch of fucking scumbags. You pissed away billions of our money due to your greed, you now reward our unwanted investment in your future with horrible service and hidden fee’s. Fuck you all in your stupid fucking faces. You outsourced your IT from a company working in Ireland to one operating overseas AFTER you got your bailout. You are run by and for fat cats, not for the people of Ireland, I hope you have to close your doors some day soon. Assholes.
I also noticed a lot of 2011, 2012, 2013 cars on the roads, what the fuck? I even noticed car brands I didn’t even know existed or still existed. Susuzki, Dachai and Ssangyong. Sign of the times I guess. Those one’s at least seem affordable, the one’s I found surprising were the BMW and Audis around the place. I even saw two Maserattis…I only knew of one in Galway before this visit and it wasn’t silver or baby blue (who gets a soft light blue Maseratti anyways!?). So some people are obviously still making money, I don’t buy the BullShit of people who had money when things tanked were holding onto it to see what happens before spending……I remember George Carlin had suggested the drop in the economy was actually going to make the richest of the rich, even richer because the smaller competitors would fold or get bought out by them. Leading to less competition and highers prices and less choice for us. Maybe that’s why some seem to be making more while most make less!
Dublin Zoo was amazing, I love Zoo’s, have been to some of the best in the world. I really rate Dublin highly it’s probably the third best Zoo I have visited! Great job, but what’s the deal with the pricing, why is an annual ticket to expensive? It doesn’t make any sense, how can you justify that. Show some fuckin’ love while the country is hurting? Still, though to be a bit positive at least. The enclosures for the animals are large and they all seem very well taken care of. Kudos to all those at Dublin Zoo. That was an enjoyable visit and the cost for the one day was reasonable for the quality. Thank You!
Some of the prices in Dublin for beer (I didn’t drink but I did check because I saw that receipt which went viral for the pint for over 7 euro) It’s unreal, how can the price for a pint be more expensive in a place like Temple Bar than somewhere like Westport. It’s unacceptable and it’s obvious gouging. And this shit is allowed to fly and give the country a black eye. Like it or not, we’re not the worlds leader in a whole lost of Industries. We need to go back to tourism and focus our efforts on providing a great travel experience. I can’t believe Ireland got the best place to visit twice in the last two years, unless it was vastly different during the summer. The Aer Lingus staff were assholes on the flight over, they literally threw the ‘breakfast’ onto our trays before landing. One of them said “Just open the shade”…you want say please or at least show some respect you fuckin’ ass?
The cost of everything in the airport is through the roof. I’ll say this. The restrooms in Terminal 2 were perfect, clean and well maintained. Not like the disaster that were the restrooms in Terminal 1 last year. The guy selling bus tickets for Airlink outside the airport is the best possible first face to see and deal with, he was very nice and helpful. A great interaction..unfortunately I met him on my last day, not the first. My first interaction was with the border patrol guy on the EU side who didn’t say a word to me, he didn’t respond to my Howya Doin….he just gestured for my passport and then waved me on.
The Cliffs of Moher…I love the cliffs but paying 6 euro per person seems like a con job to me. All you really get for your 6 euro is entrance into a shitting 5 minute ‘movie’ and a parking space. If you want to charge for parking. Then why not 6 euro per car rather than person and stop that charade. It’s not man made…stop charging people to see it. And yeah, yeah…you pay to see The Grand Canyon, well I wouldn’t suggest that the natives stop charging because in fairness, they deserve every last cent they can make. Us White Europeans fucked them hard!
What I came away with from my trip home was, I cant honestly suggest that people visit Ireland and feel good about it. Before now, when I met someone who said they would love to go, I would say you definitely should, I love the place and even though I lived there almost my entire life, I still love traveling around it…well now I won’t be able to just say that, I will need to qualify it with warnings. It’s too expensive and the quality of service is inconsistent at best. If you want to go because of the ‘friendly’ Irish people, don’t go to the ‘bigger’ towns. A lot of people in the likes of Galway and Dublin are arseholes and seem to think they are some kind of hot shit. Go to places like Westport, where the locals still give a nod of the head of a friendly smile and a wave. Where they make small talk when you are in their shop, restaurant etc. I might update this post again, this is kind of all over the place and posted in a storm!