Thursday, 4 December 2014

Ireland 2014: Galway

Galway was once a walled city run by 12 tribes. Today, it's an artsy city which serves as a great base for seeing the west. The Connemara region lies a short drive to the north-west, the Burren and the Cliffs of Moher are a hop, skip and a jump south in Co. Claire, and regular buses connect to Roundstone and ferries to the Aran Islands.

We saw none of these things on this trip.

A storm front had moved in off the Atlantic and combined with almost two weeks of go-go-go, the rain was a good excuse to stick close to town. With some well planned lunch and dinner breaks, we managed to miss most of the downpours but when they did come, they were something fierce!

We arrived late in the afternoon and I took Katie on a quick tour of 'my' Galway which amounted to me point out my old apartment as we walked past Eyre Square. We did a quick wander down the main pedestrian street which changes names more times than I change underwear before hunkering down in a pub out of the way of the tourist crowds. It was there I had made my first Hooker.

Beer, you dirty minded sods. If you can't tell from the pint glass, a Galway Hooker is a type of boat, a fishing boat to be specific. Two cousins started a brewery in 2006 named after the boat. The result is the Galway Hooker Irish Pale Ale and annoying tourists like me have been making hooker jokes ever since.

After dinner, we headed back to the hostel for a quiet night of postcard writing and journal catch-up.

The main pedestrian street. Full of bars, shops and tourists.

We woke up early the next morning with the intention of going to Inishmore (one of the Aran islands) to find it absolutely bucketing down. Seeing as the only thing to do on the Aran islands when it's raining like that is to sit in a pub and drink and we could do that just as easily in Galway, we skipped the rough ferry ride in favour of a bit more sleep.

By the time we had finished breakfast and were ready to brave the downpours, the rain had all but disappeared so we decided to join a free walking tour. On the way to the meeting point for the tour, I took Katie to the old wall of the city which is now inside a mall. Well, it's not really the old wall. It's a recreation of the old wall on the spot where the old wall stood and it was made with some of the original rocks. Close enough.

Ridiculous pics or it didn't happen seems to be my motto!

We took a tour with a company called MacCoole who run all manner of tours around the city. We had a great time on the walking tour. Our guide was really knowledgeable and entertaining, and you see a great deal of the city. Unfortunately, I apparently forgot I had a camera for most of the tour.

Looking across the River Corrib at the Galway Cathedral.

Our tour guide also played a game with us based on the YouTube video of animals talking (this one in case you've never seen it). If he noticed that any of us started to look a miserable (usually weather related), he'd say "night time" and we'd say back "day time". It worked wonders because it's almost impossible to play 'night time day time' without smiling. Six months later and Katie and I still play it with each other. (I send her this video when I want to be really annoying.)

The way the free tour works is that at the end of it, you tip the guide what you think the tour was worth. This isn't sprung on you at the last minute, you are told this right off the bat of the tour. It's the first thing the tour guide talks about after he tells you his name. I would just like to take a minute and say that I was disgusted with the number of people who just scattered at the end of the tour. I'm sure the guides expect a certain amount of the people to do that, but I really felt like screaming after them "you can't even find one fucking Euro in your pocket?"

After a late lunch, Katie and I spent the afternoon shopping where I found a wooden Ireland puzzle. I hummed and hawed about getting it until Katie yelled at me that if I didn't buy it, I would regret it and she would slap me. Those both sound like very good reasons to buy the puzzle.

We headed to O'Connell's Bar on Eyre Square. If you're ever in Galway, stop in there for pint. Just do it. Trust me. O'Connell's is touted as having the best Guinness in Galway (they do do a really good pour) which is why Katie and I both decided to have a pint of the Galway Hooker Irish Stout. Meh, same colour.

Late lunch meant a late dinner and by the time we were ready to eat, everywhere was closing. We managed a find about the only restaurant that still had an open kitchen at 9pm. When you finish dinner at about 10pm, sleep seems like the only viable option.

A lot of this trip had been Katie following me where I wanted to go, so when she said on the Sunday morning that she'd rather go to the brew pub in Salthill instead of tour the Connemara, I was happy to oblige. Salthill is a small community that sits on the other side of the Corrib from Galway, just past the old fishing village area known as Claddagh. Yes, that Claddagh.

Crossing the River Corrib

They've done a great job of fixing up the waterfront walk along the Claddagh. There had been vast improvements in 2011 since I had lived in Galway, but since 2011 they had made even further improvements to the walking path. It was absolutely lovely, even on the grey Sunday.

Tide's a wee bit low

Looking back at Galway

The area is prone to flooding which saves it from being developed

You can walk out to the lighthouse but we had beer on our minds and that was an
unnecessary detour for two girls who live next door to this lighthouse

Looking across Galway Bay to County Clare
We hit up the Oslo bar, the original bar of the Galway Bay Brewery for some beer and lunch. The beers we tried were fantastic, the food was melt-in-our-mouths groan-worthy, and the decor was fun to look at.

The whole place was covered with pro-beer slogans and
their motto was 'no crap on tap'. I want to move in.
A few beers later and we stumbled back to Galway, grabbed out bags and were off to catch a bus back to Dublin.

No comments:

Post a Comment