Monday, November 23, 2009

Galway or bust

Happy Monday, even though I am sad to see an end to such an awesome weekend.

I’m going to go ahead and boldly state that anyone who ever travels to Ireland, must make Galway one of their top priorities. This is by far my favorite town I’ve been to, even though I guess that is not a very educated opinion since Dublin is the other city I’ve been to in the Republic. It is simply Irish culture at its highest. Cute colorful town with lively pubs and people surrounding by rolling hills filled with sheep and not far from the spectacular cliffs of moher.

Let the weekend recap begin.

So Jenn was my trusty travel companion for the adventure. For those of you who don’t know, this is the girl who was down to travel to Munich with me for Oktoberfest 2 months ago when we had only known each other for 2 days prior. This girl is down for anything, so I knew only epic things could come from this trip.

So I haven’t seen much of Jenn since our bender in Munich, but she has not changed a bit. I woke up at 4:30 in the morning last Thursday in order to pack up and eat breakfast before meeting Jenn at her place at 5:45 so that we could catch our 6:30 bus to Dublin. I arrive to find Jenn looking miserable, as she locked herself out of her apartment. Without her luggage. In the wee hours of the morning. Great start to the weekend haha. After making a pretty significant amount of ruckus, some girl from her building finally woke up and let her back in so that we could retrieve her bags. (Not without a stern bitch out from the girl first though). But we didn’t care…we were on our way!

The bus ride from Belfast to Dublin went off without a hitch. The bus driver was jamming out to old school tunes such as Cyndi Lauper and Meatloaf, while I managed to get in some shut eye. The aircoach bus ride from city centre in Belfast to the airport in Dublin was a little over two hours.

Then the real adventure began. Usually it takes about 3hours 15 minutes to get from Dublin to Galway, a trek across the country (which is about the size of Maine). I had failed to consider all of the news stories that I’d heard about the massive flooding going on in the Republic of Ireland this whole past week. Our bus was fell victim to these floods and it ended up taking almost 6 hours to reach the Galway bus station. Although it sucked to be sitting down on a bus for that long, I was listening to some good tunes and taking in as much scenery as I could. There were times when the bus was diriving through close to a foot of water. Tons of roads were shut down, so we had to take narrow little country detour roads instead. I’d be very curious to see what we did on a map because I’m sure it was the most ridiculous way possible.

Anyways, we eventually did get to the adorable city of Galway. We threw our things down at the hostel before setting out to explore the town. We walked through the main streets a bit (keeping pubs in mind for our adventures later that evening) and made our way down to the harbor and seacoast. The beach reminded me a lot of Maine: cold, rocky, and pretty. I’m a sucker for beaches and totally loved it. We also explored the fishing village of Claddaugh, right next to the main streets of Galway city, to find some souvenirs and gifts for people at home. (Yep, I did get a claddaugh ring and celtic necklace for myself, I looove them!).

By this time it was about 4pm, and we were ready for dinner. It was pretty early, but we had been on busses with no food all day. Olga’s roomie recommended the fish n’ chips at The Quays pub, which was conveniently located right across from our hostel! Jenn got the fish n chips, and I got the Shepherds pie. We splitsied a little bit, and it was probably the best Irish meal I’ve had so far. Comfort food at its finest. A peculiar fellow named Neal or Ethan (we decided to just call him Nealthan) sat down with us and talked some hardcore American politics. Nealthan was a strange fellow, he was about 50 years old, lived with his parents, and knew just about everything there is to know about American politics and history. When he realized Jenn and I were American, he got all excited and said “now I have something that you will reallllly appreciate”, and pulled Paul Krugman’s latest book out of his bag. Cool Nealthan.

After an exhausting conversation about real estate costs, wall street, obama, renewable energy, gold, and iraq, Jenn and I headed back to the hostel for a power nap before hitting the town.

Jenn had been to Galway before so she had a list of favorite pubs that we had to hit up. The comprehensive list ended up having about 8 pubs. I made it to 4, Jenn only got to 3. The first was a pub called ___ (i forget). It was a pretty good place, packed and playing live irish music. The music stopped before we finished our first drink though so we decided to move along to Jenn’s all time favorite “Hole in the Wall” pub. This place definitely had a college-y feel to it, playing top 40 music to a younger crowd. I met a guy from Boston who had to leave the US after 9/11 because he didn’t have a proper Greencard. He was sad. Jenn and I then took to the dance floor, and decided to leave after the DJ played our She Wolf request. Good times at the Hole in the Wall. We were then off to Taafts pub. It was not originally on our list of places to go, but it seemed like it had a rowdy crowd inside. We were correct. We ended up meeting a bachelor party inside, celebrating the joys of single living to the fullest. These guys were great fun, and the live irish music was also a big plus. The “stag” of the bachelor party got us kicked out for dancing on the band however, so we headed on to The Quays pub (our dinner site). I stayed out with these guys for a while until I decided to call it a night (and luckily our hostel was across the street!) And that is a very abridged version of me and Jenn’s epic night in Galway.

The next day I woke up to the sounds of pouring rain. This was terrible for 2 reasons.

1) I really wanted to go to the Cliffs of Moher that day and seeing it in the rain was not ideal.

2.) Many people had warned us that rain would make the floods worse, and we could potentially get stuck in Galway for days. This was not an option because Jenn had to catch an early morning flight back to the US out of Dublin the next day.

We went down to talk to the hostel lady, and she suggested that we do the half day tour to the Cliffs of Moher to ensure that we made it back in time to catch a bus. We decided to roll with this plan and just figure out any speedbumps that camp up in the meantime. We grabbed a quick traditional Irish breakfast at the An Pucan pub (fried egg, baked beans, sausage, bacon, French fries…I wasn’t a huge fan but it was definitely good fuel for the day).

As soon as the bus tour started, the clouds broke apart into the most gloriously sunny day. The first leg of the bus tour was through the green rolly hills of the burren. Lots of livestock, lots of little stone walls, lots of useless information learned about straw and soil composition of the irish countryside. We had a tourguide named Billy who knew just about everything there is to know about everything. Billy was not a man of few words, and he garrulously filled the entire 6 hour tour with useless facts.

After the Burren came the most anticipated event of the weekend: the cliffs of moher! As soon as we arrive, the sunny day disappeared and was replaced by gods wrath. We were standing on the Cliffside with hurricane winds, pelting rain and hail, lightning, and thunder. It was pretty exciting. We tried to take pictures in these elements, but soon took shelter in the gift shop until things blew over. About ten minutes later, everything was glorious once again. That’s Ireland for ya.

I can’t emphasize enough how glad I am that I got to go here. I loved looking at the pictures of my aunts and uncles next to the Cliffs at my grandma’s house on Marco as I kid. Going here has always been one of my life goals, and now I’ll just have to make it a goal to return with my family.

After the cliffs, the bus took a coastal route back to Galway. We stopped in the adorable seaside village of Doolin for a quick lunch at Fitzpatrick’s pub. I got the seafood chowder with a side of steamed veggies (aka cabbage..gotta love Ireland), which were both pretty good. The rest of the bus ride was filled with beautiful scenery, occasional stops to explore, and loads of facts from Billy. Ask me about fairies. I dare you.

As soon as we arrived back in Galway, we hopped on the 6pm bus to Dublin. This ride back was much quicker, as they had opened up a main highway that was previously closed, however it still took about 4 hours to get back. Upon arrival, we scouted out our hostel, threw down the bags, took much needed showers, and headed out to find a bite to eat. We had planned on having another night on the town Dublin style, but we were just too exhausted. We ended up finding a great Mexican restaurant (The Alamo) in Temple Bar. Jenn and I split an order of chicken nachos and veggie fajitas (what I had been craaaaving all day) with a jug of sangria on the side. It was perfect.

Now for my Dublin hostel horror story.

So we got back to the hostel around midnight to crash. We had to be up by 7am to get Jenn to the airport on time for her flight, and we both needed a good nights sleep.

Minutes after falling asleep, these two wild Austrian girls come stumbling back after a night out at the Temple Bar. After taking a little while to finally settle down in their beds, one of the girls stares making little whining noises in her bed. This girl already had a voice similar to that of Alvin and the Chipmunks, so this noise was just a little obnoxious. A few minutes later, she starts coughing, choking, then throwing up in her bed. Keep in mind that we are staying in an orphanage style 12 bed hostel room, where each of the beds are about a foot or so apart. The girl then falls asleep like this as the room begins to staaaank. After a little while, she gets up and goes to the bathroom for a while. Who knows what she was doing it there. Her next move is to try and make the throw up in her bed go away. No she does not do this by cleaning, she decides to FLIP THE MATTRESS over so that it is out of sight out of mind (but definitely not out of smell out of nose..haha ok lame, but true.) She then takes out her perfume and practically dumps the bottle over her bed so that we now have a combination of vom and flowers consuming the air. She then gets back into bed and falls asleep, happy as can be.

In the meantime, I’m pretty sure I’m going to die. A guy sleepin in a bed near me looks at me with an “are you seriousssssss” look on his face and then hides in a tent of blankets. I do the same. Things are a little better in my blanket tent, but the snoring going on the room keeps sleep from happening.

About a half hour later, around 4am, 2 American boys come stumbling into the room with a 12 pack, turn on every light, and try to start a frat party in our little hostel home. The Austrian girls, yes even the pukey one, wake up and decide this is a great idea. I hide in my tent out of sheer exhaustion and just decide to wait it out. I fell in and out of sleep for the next hour and when I woke up at 6, they had all passed out in their respective beds..the room smelling of vom, flowers, and guinness. Yummy.

That just about wraps up the wild weekend to Galway. The only hitch in the whole weekend was the hostel in Dublin but looking back I think it’s a pretty funny story about hostels can go wrong. I’ve stayed in probably 20 or so hostels in the past year, and this is the only really crappy example I can think of . The hostel itself wasn’t even bad (Barnacles in Temple Bar), just the people were a little rowdy.

All in all…awesome weekend. I loved it and am sososo glad that I went J

Now I’m trying to get massive amounts of work done before my trip to London this weekend.

I’m trying not to think abut how much I wanna be at home for Thanksgiving because it is one of my all time favorite weekends of the year. London should be killer though so I’m glad I have that to keep me busy.

Right now I’m skyping with Olga, she’ll kill me for this. CHEEESE!

And olga’s mama sent me cookies in the mail!!!

Home in 27 days. I really am loving it here, but I've really grown to appreciate what I don't have here with me

That’s all : )

um oh ya. im sure there are 10 trillion typos in this post. when i write long posts i tend to just type and not self edit whatsoever (even though i really dont do it much ever anyway). in conclusion, im not fixing it so dont judge. peeeace

1 comment:

  1. a lot of things in here cracked me up.

    but not the photo!!! sneaky.