We have experienced a lot of surprises on our annual overseas jaunts these last few decades. Here’s the story of our biggest surprise in last year’s visit to Ireland:
It was a Friday and our fifth day in Galway and we planned – well, we didn’t plan — it was going to be a kick-back day, a day of relaxing after two full days of day-long touring. But it didn’t turn out that way.
The day started with a walk before breakfast to retrieve our laundry that we had dropped off the day before. Then for most of the day we either walked or rode on a hop on / hop off bus and revisited some of the places around central Galway. Then in the late afternoon we moseyed over to the Meyrick Hotel (I hear it’s called The Hardiman now) on Eyre Square to meet our cousins from Northern Ireland who had texted us the night before that they had some business in the Dublin area and were planning to drive back home via Galway and perhaps have dinner with us. So we took our position in the lobby of the hotel and waited for them to arrive. We were vaguely aware of a wedding reception that was soon to take place at the hotel (we had seen the red carpet and correctly surmised that it wasn’t for us) but didn’t pay much attention to the dressed-up crowd that was arriving. Then I felt a tap on my shoulder and a voice with the words “Are you really a Giants fan? (I was wearing my favorite baseball cap at the time. In fact, I wore it just about every day on this vacation).” I then looked up and stared at the guy standing next to me and was dumbfounded. And I remember the look on his face changing to recognition when I mumbled something like “Yes, and I also graduated from SI in 1957!” That guy staring at me who recognized my Giants cap was non other than Dan Flynn, a high school classmate!
Dan and I both attended St Ignatius High School in San Francisco and had seen each other every now and then over the years, mostly at the reunions that occurred every five years. Dan and I are FaceBook friends and we also keep in touch via email. But the last time we saw each other was in 2012 after our Rhine River Cruise and our subsequent trip to Germany. Dan and his wife Kate had settled in Belgium several years ago. On that day in May of 2012 they picked us up at the train station in Aachen and drove us to their home in Verviers. It just happened to be Memorial Day back in the USA and we stopped at an American WWII cemetery on the way.
We only had a chance to speak for a few minutes as the wedding reception dinner was about to begin (the bride was the daughter of Dan’s long-time friends) and so we said our goodbyes. “Keep on wearing that hat,” was the last thing he said to me that evening.
That night we dined at the hotel restaurant with our cousins and then some of us visited a pub to watch a FIFA Women’s World Cup soccer match between the American women’s team and the French. The next day was a designated free day for our family. My older daughter and her family opted to walk around Galway, more or less in the footsteps of the rest of us on the day they slept in because of jet lag. My younger daughter and her family decided to spend the day at the beach. And my wife and I chose to take a local bus to Knock in County Mayo (see my next post). As the bus station was right behind the Meyrick Hotel we decided to peek into the restaurant to see if our cousins might be still eating breakfast. They were and we found them on one side of the room and on the other side was the wedding party plus my friend Dan and his wife Kate. So we met again and we also were introduced to the bride and groom and numerous relatives.
And my cousin Henry took this photo of Dan and me.
See here for my post several years ago about meeting high school classmates in Belgium. See here and here for my posts on meeting Dan and Kate in 2012. A day after our get-together my wife and I traveled to Nivelles to visit another classmate, George DeCat. See here and here for an account of that visit. Two years later my wife and I spent three weeks in Paris and George and Jacqueline took the train down from Brussels to visit us for three days. See here and here for my postings on that trip.
So that was our big surprise last year. We will be having our 65th high school reunion in two years. Maybe we will meet Dan and Kate there again. Maybe George and Jacqueline. And maybe we will run into either Dan or George or another classmate in some faraway place again someday. Yes, Dan, I better keep on wearing my Giants cap!
My next post will cover our trip to Knock.