The truly wonderful thing about using a travel agent and being a tourist in Ireland is that you can just sit back and enjoy the ride. Particularly if the ride is your boyfriend attempting to drive a manual across an entire country.
Especially if you’re too young to legally do any of the driving in the rental car.
Dublin to Galway was a bit nerve-wracking, mostly for James, but I had a splendid time sight-seeing and nagging him to stay on the left side of the road. I didn’t take any pictures of this time because my phone was completely dead. We were entirely at the mercy of our GPS.
The hotel was beautiful, though.
We made it in the early afternoon, but it was always a little difficult to tell time in Ireland because it was always cloudy. This probably comes as a surprise to no one, but I thoroughly enjoyed it, because I didn’t get a sunburn the entire time I was there. In fact, since I never applied sunscreen, I got the barest hint of a tan, turning me from a pasty #FFFFFF to a pasty #FFFBF5.
Our hotel was right across the road from Galway Bay, which didn’t smell overly salty and reminded me of the massive Lake Coeur d’Alene I used to live near. Our hotel was also right next to the world’s saddest boardwalk amusement park.
Frequently seen here: Underpaid Irish teenagers huddling under dead machinery to keep out of the constant rain.
The bay, though gray, was beautiful.
If you look in the corner of the picture above, you’ll see a little hut on top of a pier. There was one of these every half mile or so, and I’m not sure what exactly they were for, but they looked quite cozy inside.
Primarily because each of them came with their own tea kettle.
There were plenty of Galway residents out and about, jogging and biking and generally being more athletic than Americans, despite the constant drizzly weather. One thing I found interesting was that they typically didn’t leash their dogs; the happy canines would bound ahead to sniff at rocks and trees and other dogs, and then turn and patiently wait for their owners to catch up.
I’m certain there are well-trained dogs in America, but I guess it must be law in most places to keep them leashed. Something I never really thought about, because our dogs were never ever well-trained and letting them run free was never an option.
After recovering from the trip, James and I set out towards the center of Galway in search of expensive tourist widgets to bring back to our families. I had done a haphazard searching on my phone for a Irish gift shop, only a mile or so from where we were staying, so we set off on foot to go look for a small tourist shop.
Instead, we found forty of them in one go.
Completely by accident, after diverting a little from our pre-Googled path, we stumbled across the Latin Quarter, an absolutely beautiful set of alleys and streets completely packed with every gift shop imaginable. Claddagh rings rained from the sky for only €40-€70 a piece.
At one point we rounded a corner and came across St. Nicholas’ Collegiate Church, opened in 1320, which to us Americans was unfathomably old. It was hard to photograph from the outside, mostly because of the beggar lady we were avoiding.
The inside was also hard to photograph, because when there’s so much magnificent architecture happening at once, your poor phone can’t take it all in. This was a recurring theme in Ireland.
St. Nicholas’ also had a door that was exactly my size. I was very, very excited about it.
It was our first real taste of ‘everything here is older than America’. I never really got over it while I was there, and James delighted in taking pictures of McDonald’s housed in stonework from the 14th century.
The cathedrals always had gorgeous graveyards to boot.
Also, this strange little judgement station in the back. Get your judgement here!
Ah yes, The Cathedral of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven and St Nicholas. Or Galway Cathedral, if you’re being practical.
We also went to Galway’s best known Cathedral- the building across the river with the dome- but it was so big up close that none of my pictures looked right. I found it interesting that every big church we saw in Ireland was always wide open for visitors, no matter the day. I suppose that’s how they make their money, by tourists offering donations. Whatever works, right?
So instead of the cathedral, have a picture of two guys fishing in the river outside of the cathedral.
More Galway Bay.
James and I had two days in Galway, and we wrapped it up by buying some thick Irish sweaters- so people could instantly tell we were anything but Irish- and going wading in the bay. We had just seen some people in wetsuits doing some kind of swim match in it, so we figured it couldn’t be that bad.
It was pretty bad. But not the coldest water I’ve ever felt. Everything’s a little chilly there.
An unflattering picture of James putting on his socks again.
Truth be told, I think it was a toss-up between Galway and Killarney for my favorite places in Ireland. Galway, the little we saw of it, was delightful, and I discovered mushy peas there, which will always have a special place in my heart.