My favorite thing about returning to a familiar place is turning a corner and seeing something very new. This is one of the joys of travel, that each time you return somewhere, there is the possibility of it feeling fresh again. A few weeks ago I returned to Galway, the major city of the west coast of Ireland. I had been several times before, but this time I saw something unexpected.
The evening started out normal enough with a big plate of fish & chips. A couple pints of Guinness later we were singing along with a cover band in one of those pubs along pedestrianized Quay Street. When the pub closed, we walked out into a warm spring evening. This sensation on the island of Ireland is one to savor – so I was in no rush back to the hotel. During the day, we always go to the Claddagh, (from the Irish meaning flat stony shore) where an incredible amount of swans have taken up residence.
Still humming a tune from the pub, we set out for the Claddagh and found the landmark deserted. There, just floating in the current, were about 100 swans in various states of sleep. Some of them were finishing up the final pruning of the day, others already had their heads twisted and tucked on the pillows of their backs. Some were huddled for warmth, some very hiding from the wind, and others were still smoothly gliding under the moonlight.
I didn’t remember if this many swans populate the inlet during the day, and I certainly couldn’t remember if I’d ever seen a swan sleeping before, but I do know that it was a beautiful sight. The full moon completed the scene, and in the quiet of 2am, I was reminded that there is always something new to see in the most familiar of places.