Posted by: mdmusingsie | August 15, 2020

Traveling Covid-style

The four walls had been closing and a couple of stressful weeks at work had me longing to go somewhere, anywhere different.

After debating between Sligo and Galway, Galway won. Not so much because it’s one of my favourite places, but the hotels in Sligo were booking up too quickly, almost forcing my hand.

The stress of the job steered me towards a spa hotel and I found myself at The Twelve Hotel in Barna, a few miles west of Galway City.

In one sense, I was lucky.  It was the Galway Races week and there wouldn’t have been a hotel room available within 30 km of the place if it hadn’t been for Covid-19 and the races being held without an audience.  That didn’t seem stop people from flocking to Galway and the vicinity.

Having made good time on the motorway, I stopped at a services exit for a quick lunch.  These services stops normally contain a petrol station, a convenience store, and a variety of restaurants.  This particular wayside stop was jam packed with people.  Less than half were wearing masks, despite it being somewhat compulsory (the legislation around who would be responsible for policing the wearing of masks yet to be decided – shop owners didn’t want the responsibility and there aren’t enough Guarda to be stationed at every shop).  Galway traffic was as bad as ever and I arrived at the hotel just after the earliest check in time.

While waiting to check in I heard the hotel was now fully booked, and restaurant reservations for non-hotel guests were at a premium.  I wasn’t the only one having four-wall-syndrome.

My room was quite spacious with nice hardwood floors instead of carpet (a plus in my book).  There was a small balcony looking out over the parking lot.  Not the view I was hoping for but there actually way a small green area, and as I reminded myself, at least I had a view of four different walls for a few days.


I made my usual call to the front desk for an additional sheet.  Top sheets are nearly unheard of in hotels or B&Bs here.  I had to repeat my reason for the extra sheet, duvets are too warm, both to the desk staff and the young woman who delivered the sheet.  I’m quite warm blooded and sleep primarily under just a sheet all year round.  I think they both thought I was touched in the head.

Dinner at the hotel pub was interesting.  Of course tables have to be farther apart, but I’m pretty sure my neighbor to the left was closer than 1 metre.  All hotel staff wore face coverings – except the maitre d’ who wore a face shield, the rest wore masks.  After wearing a mask for shopping, I’m thinking about leaning towards the face shield – it may not fog up my glasses the way masks do.

To avoid having to clean menus or continually print new ones, they had a system where they placed a picture frame on the table with three QR codes – one for the food, one for drinks, and one for wine.  Point the camera on your phone and it turns into a link that opens in a browser.  As unusual as it was, I decided that most people in this day and age would have a cell phone and know how to use the QR codes. I was wrong on this account, at dinner the next day I saw a young couple (20’s) struggling to make it work. They were given a paper menu.  The children’s menu was also on paper but it came with puzzles and areas to colour (crayons, communal or otherwise, no longer provided).

After taking my order the waiter asked for my name and phone number.  No, he wasn’t trying to chat me up (I’m old enough to probably be his granny).  It’s part of the new restaurant regulations.  One person at the table has to give a name and contact number in case Covid-19 cases are discovered amongst other guests or staff from the same time period.  If you’re a hotel guest, room number was a sufficient substitute.  There was a fine dining restaurant at the hotel, but I’m more of a pub-grub person – I’m not interested in pretentious food.

Barna is a small village about 5km from Galway City (in traffic that’s about a 20 min drive).  It’s definitely a holiday-maker’s stop with plenty of accommodation and restaurants and light on shops.  The hotel sits on the main road between Galway and Connemara/Clifden and there is plenty of traffic all day long.  I was grateful my room didn’t face the street.

I booked a spa treatment as a gift to my body for all the stress it had been undergoing.  Both the masseuse and I had to wear masks.  Although it was a relaxing back, leg, and foot massage, it wasn’t what I had originally requested.  I had thought I was booking a leg and foot massage with a pedicure. I suppose I could have complained, but I did enjoy the treatment, even if I didn’t get my pedicure.  Note to self to clarify the treatment before it begins in the future.

Besides a walk around town (10-15 minutes max), I did make a trip to An Spidéal (or Spiddal in English) where they have a craft village.  Unfortunately only about half of the craft shops were open.  On the way back I stopped at Furbo beach – I miss being that close to the ocean.


Not the grand vacation I had planned for 2020 (I had hoped to get to the US at least once if not twice), it was a therapeutic getaway that toned down my stress level and left me feeling able to face my own four walls again.



  1. Sounds like the perfect getaway at this time for you, Dawn! Happy, Happy Birthday to you tomorrow from Dale and me!

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