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Entries in Galway (12)

Thursday
Mar172011

Happy St. Patrick’s Day My Sexy Little Leprechauns

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Wednesday
May192010

Leaving my Dignity in Ireland

Rough freaking day.

This was not the day to be productive or even alive on only two hours of sleep.  My “to-do” list was about a mile long and I had absolutely no desire to tick off even one of them. I had to basically pack up my entire life for the past couple of months, ship some of it to Spain, some of it back to the states and the rest of it packed up in a bag to take with me for the next week and a half of traveling. Oh and I had to do laundry. And I had to clean. And I had to get us all on a bus by 4 PM.

HA.

Ya right.

Of course we missed our bus. But I blame it on Brian and Emily because they were sleeping and not motivating me to get shiz done. In addition, this was the windiest day of my life. I literally got knocked over at one point and I couldn’t hear myself think – not fun.

Fortunately, the guy at the bus station wasn’t too upset by us missing our pre-paid bus and let us on downtown instead of at the GMIT campus which was where I bought the tickets from. The bus ride was basically just an extension of our incredible day before and was 100% spent gossiping about the day/night before and how we were going to make sure we continued to live it for the next 10 days.

We arrived in Cork still in bad form, so we had a couple of beers and passed out, ready to catch our 5 AM (or some other ungodly hour) flight to Munich. 

Peace out Ireland. See you on the flipside.

Slan.

Tuesday
May182010

To Drink or Not to Drink: St. Paddy's Day 2010

 

I’ve heard plenty of mixed reviews about spending St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland.  Though it is a national holiday where most Irish are given the day off from work and school, I’ve still heard that it is more of an American holiday than an Irish one.  This was certainly confirmed when I arrived in Galway and spoke of the friends who were coming to visit me for the special day.  Mr G rolled his eyes and said he, himself, had never been to any of the St. Patrick’s Day festivities.  Hmm… Well.

I narrowed out staying the day in Dublin after I had heard that Dublin is just a collection of Aussies and American’s in town for the holiday.  I didn’t really fancy the idea of spending this day with anyone other than Irish people.  So I spent the couple of months I was in Galway making plans and scoping out details of what was going on in hopes that I could give my American visitors a good time.  Like happens with most of my plans, once we started drinking, there was no way we were following anything I had put together previously.

Originally, we were headed to the parade that was heading up Quay Street and Shop Street in Galway.  Originally, we were going to head from there, straight to the bars and the plan was to be sufficiently pissed by 3 PM.  From there, we would pop around from pub to pub in our Irish regalia causing a general ruckus.  Ya. No. None of that happened.

We woke up at noon; the parade was at 12:30.  Scratch that idea.  Rather than head into the pub immediately, we decided we would walk up to the corner store and buy some pre-game drinks and lunch.  We then sat down at the kitchen table with Mr. G and drank mimosas, Guinness and cider while chatting about God knows what.  After a couple hours, Mr. G disappeared and we decided we should make our faces seen since there was no point in spending the whole day drinking with ourselves.

The only part of my plan that did actually occur was going to see my friend Matt at the Salt House.  I had promised him that I would bring in my lot with our feather boas and dirty up his bar as much as possible.  After putting on his fake Irish beard hat, there wasn’t much left to do here though, so we headed in town for our pub crawl.

I won’t pretend to remember what happened at this point.  All I know is that we went into Sonny’s for ONE pint before heading to the next bar, but we never left.  In true drunken bullet point style, I will now recount the pieces of the night that I do remember:

  • Tequila shots (at least 4 or 5)
  • Running into a friend from Inishmore
  • Making some new friends (where have you been the whole time I’ve been in Galway?!)
  • One of new friends stealing Brian’s St. Paddy’s Day Hat and him replying “That man has my hat. Go get my hat.”

That’s it. Almost 10 hours of my life and that is most of what I remember. The rest I can’t disclose because I don’t want to embarrass Emily. But let’s just say that when the two of us arrived home on our own VERY early in the morning and found we were locked out of my house, we had PLENTY to talk about as we sat down the street for breakfast.

For those of you haters who say that St. Paddy’s Day is not fun in Ireland – I beg to differ. The only way you can NOT have a good time is if you suck because it’s difficult to make any holiday dedicated to drinking not be fun. 

And that’s my two cents.

Friday
May142010

A Long Day of Rest Before St. Patrick's Day

Even though we went home early, we were dead this morning. Absolutely dead. To avoid paying €25/day to park near the hostel, we had driven the car down near the hospital and parked in a neighborhood, about a 30 minute walk away from our hostel.  Brian and I walked this morning to get the car to come back and pick up Diana with all the bags.  Problem is, traffic was terrible. And on top of that, what I remember to be a 30 minute walk, was actually a little over an hour. So when we left our hostel at 8 to be back by 9:30 and at the airport by 10 to pick Emily up, we were WAY off. Fortunately, I got a message from Em saying that her plane was delayed and that she wouldn’t be in until closer to noon.  Since we actually left the hostel at 8:30, didn’t get to the car until 9:45 and then took an entire hour plus to get back to pick up the luggage (not leaving the hostel until 11:15) it was a damn good thing.

Regardless, we walked into the airport RIGHT when Emily was coming out of the gate and she was none the wiser (until I told her – which I should have lied and said we were waiting for hours).

Back in the car. We’re off to Galway.

The drive was fun and uneventful.  The middle of Ireland isn’t exactly the most amazingly beautiful, and in addition we were on a four lane motorway (which I hadn’t seen until then) so there wasn’t much to see.  We pulled off the main road for about an hour to grab some food in Raheen at the Mill and so Emmy could have her first Guinness in Ireland.  We also tried to do some castle chasing, but by the time we got to the castles, Diana and Emily were both asleep. Sad day.

We rolled into Salthill about 5 PM and got ready to go out before taking the car back to the rental hut when it was due at 6 PM.  When I tell you that the doors to the Budget office were locked and I literally had to knock the door to get the guys attention so I could give him the keys and NOT incur another day’s worth of charges – WHEW!

From here, we walked down to the Spanish Arch to grab a pre-diner pint and say hello to my good friend Aidan.  We had dinner at the Front Door and then went pub hopping in hope of finding some good trad session music.  We went to Neachtains, Massimos, Taaffes and finally ended up at Kelly’s for lack of other options.  Naturally, when we left Kelly’s around 3:30, we headed to get late night Cheese and Bacon Fries and home to rest up for the amazingly GIGANTIC St. Patrick’s Day festival we have planned for tomorrow. 

WOO ST. PATRICK’S DAY!!!!!!

Wednesday
Apr142010

I am a terrible driver

I’ve been told that you can’t see the “real” Ireland without leaving the comfort of public transportation and the big cities and really get out and drive in the countryside.  Fortunately, I had the opportunity to do just that as I needed to rent a car to go pick up Brian, Emily and Diana in Dublin on the 16th anyway. I had tried with no success to ask around friends to “borrow” a car for the week, but most people in Galway, come to find, don’t have cars – or at least the ones I was asking didn’t.

So I dragged Mr. G up to Budget with me to pick up my new little friend and start the journey cross country.  Now, those of you who follow me regularly have already heard my horror stories of driving a car with a manual transmission.  Last time I drove a stick, it was Dan’s lovely Wanda and it was on the open roads of the northern Midwest of America on some LOVELY wide interstates with relatively no traffic. When I picked up the car with Mr. G, I knew it wasn’t going to be a pretty event, but I was confident that I could figure it out and that at this point, the only thing that will improve my driving is practice.  We made it back to the house with relatively no incident (only a couple of stalls, but nothing major and not in any major area, considering it was 6 o’clock rush hour traffic when I picked the thing up, I was pretty impressed). 

I was accompanied on my drive by the lovely Marde, a couchsurfer from Melbourne I picked up who was looking for a ride out of Galway and a much welcomed companion.  Marde met me at the house before noon on Saturday and we casually packed the car up with all of our gear and got ready to get out of town.  Marde didn’t know how to drive a stick, so it looked like I really was going to have to make this work, but at this point I was pretty confident everything would be ok.  So we pull down the hill in Salthill down towards the main ocean road and I start some idle chatter about how great the trip is going to be.  We arrive at the bottom of the hill to take a right turn (our left turn, since I’m driving on the left side of the road… so I have to cross traffic). 

Stall.

Ok.  Calm down, Hesser.  You can do it.

Stall. Stall. Stall. Stall. Stall. 

by Jim LinwoodUhh…. Wtf do I do now? I’m blocking both lanes of traffic.  People are honking.  Pedestrians on the strand are staring and laughing.  I am stuck.  I keep starting the car up, shoving it in first gear, moving about 4 feet and stalling again.  Again.  And Again.  At this point I am having a full on panic attack.  I have no effing idea how I’m going to keep going. 

A knock on the window and I jump 100 feet.  A man opens the door, asks Marde to step out and he gets in the passenger seat.  Blah blah blah… I don’t know what he’s saying, I can’t even see straight.

“I’m a driving instructor.” Wait what? My ears perk up.  “Do you know how to do this?” he asks me calmly.  Yes, yes, I do. I realize I haven’t said anything, I’m just thinking to myself.  “Yes, I can. I’m just panicking,” I sputter out, “I can’t concentrate.”

For the next 5 minutes, the man sits there by Robert Couse-Bakerand talks to me.  Not about what I’m doing wrong.  Not about how terrible I’m driving.  He talks to me about America and his first time to visit.  He turns on the AC full blast . He tells me about his son who is doing a year study abroad in Boston.  He chats me up about the upcoming journey and takes my map to show me some castles I must see along the way.  All the while, we’re sitting blocking half of the left lane of traffic, but not so much that people can’t pass me.  Suddenly, I’m not shaking as much.  My face gets some color back and my arms feel a little less like Jell-O. 

“Well, best of luck to you, Abbey.  This is sure to be an epic journey for you! Are you alright now?” Strangely enough, I was. He got out of the car and let Marde back in.  He walked to the back of my car and stopped traffic behind me.  I let out the parking break.  Foot on the clutch and the break.  Slowly release and give it some gas and… well looky there.  I got the damn thing to go all by myself after all.

See you later Mr. Good Samaritan Driving Instructor Man.  You saved many lives today.

Friday
Mar122010

Soaking up the sun in Salthill, Co. Galway

Salthill is a lovely seaside resort town just west of Galway City in the heart of Western Ireland. It also happens to be the place that I call home right now. My own lovely little beach town where I can sit in my bed, writing articles and blog posts and watch the whales frolic in the ocean. Ok so maybe there aren’t any whales (at least none that I can see), but the rest is true!

I’ve been so blessed with my location. Like I mentioned before, my house is located on a hill, in a row of houses that only lines one side of a street. The other side is open to a park, and eventually, the beach/ocean. I can literally watch the waves crash up on the rocks from my bedroom window (yes, while sitting in my bed) and the sun sets straight out over the water. It’s absolutely beautiful.

Everything here is within near walking distance. I have a small market up the block where I can get nearly everything I need in the form of groceries. At the bottom of my hill is the Salthill Promenade (or the Prom as the locals call it) which is a long stretch of bars and restaurants facing the ocean. Across from the Prom is a long walking path that runs all the way from Southpark (near city center Galway) out to Salthill ending at a black rock. Many people use this long stretch of pavement for their morning or evening work out and it’s essential to kick the black rock at the end of the prom (apparently it brings good luck).

In terms of going out, the pubs are a plenty. There’s a great pub down the street that I frequent quite often called the Oslo which is open all day, has free wifi, great food, good coffee and plays most of the good sporting events on a large projection screen in a bruhouse type picnic table setup. Down the street is a great Italian restaurant serving great authentic pasta and pizza next door to a nice Polish restaurant. If you’re in the mood for a bit more traditional Irish food, head to the Cottage where the beer is cold and the chips piping hot (and served with a really great mayo dipping sauce).

My favorite part of living in Salthill is the walk into town. Clocked at between 10 and 20 minutes (depending on how fast you walk, which of the 1000 routes you take and what state of mind you’re in), the walk I take usually winds down the prom along the ocean, then up through some neighborhood streets before popping out and crossing the river onto Quay Street. It’s the perfect amount of time to share a nice conversation with a friend, listen to some pump up music or sober up a bit after a night out.

It’s close proximity to the city make Salthill a perfect place to stay if you’re in town, no matter how long you stay.

Saturday
Mar062010

A Walking Tour of the Western Irish Countryside

After my little walking tour of Galway City the other day, I decided that walking out into the country for a day wasn’t going to be as daunting of a task as I had previously envisioned.  I walked a total of 8 miles roundtrip to the Tesco, so what’s an extra four miles?  I plotted a walking tour starting in Salthill and heading West down the coast to Barna, inland a couple of miles and then back to Salthill.  The whole walk was supposed to be 12 miles, but I ended up turning down the wrong road at one point and so I

ended up walking about 16 miles. Let’s just say, my little feed were NOT happy with me when I got home.

Possibly inspired by this clip from P.S. I Love You, I really wanted to get out and experience the REAL Irish countryside.  These little roads seem so charming and every turn off looks like a scene from the Secret Garden.  So off I started, heading straight West on Upper Salthill Road.  I walked down towards the Salthill Diving Tower (where a man was actually swimming! At about 40 degrees F – no THANK YOU!) and kicked the Blackrock Wall at the end of the promenade (it’s said to give good luck).  I walked down past the Galway Golf Course along the ocean and then turned in a bit to meet up with Barna Road and loop around Rusheen Bay.

I found a small castle here, but it was pretty much overgrown and covered in graffiti.  I kept walking along the road, and as I came around the bend at Knockauncarragh to look back towards Salthill, I found one of the most amazing views.  I stood up on a hill quite high above sealevel but could look down a clear path all the way past small farms and a couple houses down towards Rusheen Bay and across to the Burren.  There were even ponies (a grey mare and her baby black colt), and though I couldn’t tell if they were wild or not (I didn’t see any fences, but they were awful close to town to be wild) they were beautiful against the bright green background.  The baby hid from me most of the time so I didn’t get a chance to look too close, but he was there.

At this point, I couldn’t really remember where I was supposed to turn but I was pretty sure I wasn’t supposed to walk too much farther past Barna.  So I took one of the first streets out of town, which actually took me on a slight outward detour.  I cut back once I saw a sign pointing into down and headed towards Aille, where I had looked up a riding stable I was hoping to pop into.  On the way, the streets were just perfect.  Every driver gave me a cheerful wave as they passed by, but they only drove past every 10-15 minutes.  I was pretty much out there by myself.

At one point, I broke off the road and hiked a bit up onto a hill to take in the view.  There was a faded horse trail, so I was pretty certain that I wouldn’t fall into a boggy hole, but it was a bit frightening as the ground was pretty spongey and wet. Someone told me that they invented the sport of Cross Country Riding here, and I see why.  The only thing dividing most of the pasture land for each farmer are these short stone walls and it becomes quite clear why horses would be bred to travel long distances and jump short stonewall jumps. 

I walked for about 6 hours before making it back to my little house and, though I was ambitious to head into town again, my feet just completely stopped working, so I called it a day and cooked some dinner. 

See all of my pictures from the little walking tour on Flickr.

Friday
Mar052010

An un-love story - by Ben

In an effort to do some self mending, I wrote yesterday’s post.  When I woke up today, I read back over it and laughed at how much emotion I was able to feel in such a short amount of time.  I walked downstairs and over a cup of coffee, I discussed the events past with Mr. G. After much discussion, I thought it would be comical to re-write the post from Ben’s perspective.  And this is what happened next.

An un-love story – by Ben

I met this cool chick last night. 

She was pretty hot. Ok no, she was really hot (haha – sorry, I had to).  I got into town pretty late, grabbed a burger and walked into this small bar.  They were one of the only places playing the footy game.  Which is quite surprising, as I thought the Irish were pretty big on sports.  But I guess they’re just fond of drinking.  Which is fine by me too.  The Guinness here does taste much bet…. Oh ya. I was talking about the girl.

So she was cool. We talked for a while and I wasn’t bored. I could see myself hanging w/ her if she lived in my neighborhood. We drank a bunch and I asked her if she wanted to come up for a cup of tea, which she totally fell for – I didn’t know that line still worked.

I had to get on the road early to make it down to Cork in time to catch that show.  I’m really looking forward to seeing the band – the Atlantic Pirates I think they’re called? I thought about giving the girl my phone number but realized the probability of us even being in the same city at the same time again is next to none. 

Now it kind of looks like it’s going to rain.  I should probably leave before.......

... That stupid chick comes back and bothers me and makes some big effing deal about life like she fell in love with me or something.

Ok, so maybe I threw in my own bit there at the end.  But you get the point.