A week or so again, Monika told me that she was planning to go down to Waterford with friends from her lab to the Tall Ships Race Festival. I had not yet been to Waterford and the people in her lab are quite nice, so I immediately said yes since I did not have any other plans. It was great that they were organizing it, because I had no worries of looking for a car to rent, how to get there etc etc. I just gave in my name and could go, sit back, relax and enjoy.
Yesterday morning, therefore Kevin and Monika went to pick up the car at the airport, and Larissa, Hoi (I think it is written that way, not sure) and myself were to be picked up from uni at 10:30am. But it was not until 11:15 that they picked us up, and 11:30 till we left. But it did not really matter. We started the trip to Waterford, which should take us around 2hours. But with the GPS taking us through all the back roads and the traffic going in to Waterford, it took more like 3 hours. But I must say that the system was well organised, with numerous park and rides in the outskirts of Waterford, where you could park your car and buses (loads of buses, you did not have to do much, if any waiting for the buses to come/leave…at the time we were leaving our park and ride, there were 4 buses, which quite quickly filled up, left and the cycle continued).
We made our way to the city centre, and first stop FOOD. By the time we had lunch, 4pm had come, so it was no longer possible to get access to the boats, but we could watch and enjoy. The weather was lovely and so even just walking around was great fun. And I believe all the other people present agreed, because the city was packed. It was like a Maltese festa replicated by a large number of times (estimates gave an attendance of 130,000 people). We then made our way to meet other friends from their lab who made it to Waterford earlier, and we just lounged in front of one of the stages. We listened to some great music by a band called Lebowski (who I think are these guys) and chatted.
At around 6:30pm, one of the girls said that she got tickets to go see a main concert…the tickets were free, but you needed to get them. Luckily she managed to get tickets for all of us, and we made our way to the main stage. The supporting act was Brass & Co., a 10 piece (according to their website but possibly more yesterday) live band, who really got us having fun. Unfortunately I loved the supporting act much more than the main act, Sharon Shannon. But this is likely since Brass & Co. played well known songs we could join in and enjoy whilst Sharon Shannon played traditional Irish music, which to me sounds more or less constantly the same, so I cannot really do with 1 hours or so of listening to it.
Therefore some of us made our way to find some dinner (it was 9:30pm by this time). And oh boy what a hassle it was. Most of the open restaurants were full (difficult to find a table for 7). But what I could not understand is the number of restaurants with ‘kitchen closed’ or closed for the night, when the city was still full of people. Oh well. We finally settled on a trusty source…Burger King…yes we are fancy :). After having dinner, we made our way to the river to watch the fireworks display. Now I am not that wowed by fireworks…in Malta they are the order of the day every weekend throughout summer…with fireworks being let off everyday in at least 1 (but generally more like 4 or 5) villages. But I was pleasantly surprised that the show took 15minutes (I checked) and it was good…I also saw a type of fireworkd I have not seen in Malta.
At this point the throngs of people started departing. But we decided to stay a bit longer, since it was advised that if public safety is at risk, due to the large number of people departing at around 11pm, they would stop the park and ride service for 2 hours. So we made our way to a bar with live music (and another great band and singer) for some drinking and dancing. At 12:30 we were however quite tired and we made our way to the Park and Ride pickup point. We found a bus departing…at 1am…yes they were still working, even though not too many people remained, which I think shows great planning (other aspects which impressed me, and I must mention was the large number of mobile toilets, which were clean, and even had toilet paper in them, even if you went at 4pm, 11pm, whenever…well done).
We got to our car and started the 2 hour trip back to Dublin. Thank god I was not driving…thank you Kevin :) We all had a nap, whilst he drove, so his efforts are greatly appreciated.
All in all…a great day. I really enjoyed it and look forward to more trips like this :)