I finally made it to Galway, a day and a half later than I’d planned. It’s lovely, cobbled streets and colourful houses. Buskers singing with beautiful voices on the street corners. It’s cozy and more quaint than Dublin, a good place to meet locals, hear live traditional music and a great setting off point to see other beautiful spots in Ireland such as the Cliffs of Moher and the Aran Islands.
The first night in Galway, I went out to a traditional music session at a place called The Crane. It took place in the upstairs part of the pub. Musicians sat on chairs in circle around the room, playing various instruments, creating a really cozy intimate feel, like you were in someone’s living room and their family and friends had decided to have a jam session. Later, I went the pub directly across from my hostel because I was so tired from the bus and my two previous wild nights in Dublin and I figured I could easily crawl from here across the street to my hostel when I got to exhausted. I also liked that it had a similar name to the pub I loved in Dublin, it was called the Quays as well, but apparently they are not related. There was a really good funk/ska/soul cover band playing and lots of people dancing. I love that there were so many people in Ireland who weren’t shy to dance!
On my birthday I went to a pub called Tig Cóilí, and please do not ask me how to pronounce that. I went with a friend I made at the hostel and we found more cute Irish bartenders whom I flirted with and told them it was my birthday to get free shots of Guinness. “You have a thing for bad boys and bartenders, don’t you?” observed my new friend. I was seriously never into bartenders before, most of the ones I met were female but there were so many cute ones in Ireland. How could I not flirt with them?
Inis Mór – Aran Islands:
The next morning, I got up early to pick up my tickets for my shuttle bus and ferry to go to the Aran Islands. No time for sleep when I’m in an a place like Ireland where I just want to experience everything. There are actually 3 Aran Islands and Inis Mór is the biggest and most visited one but all are accessible by ferry. I booked my tickets directly with the Aran Island Ferry company rather than using a tour company and was able to use my Canadian student ID for a discount.
Going out to the islands is almost like entering another decade or even another century. There are little thatched cottages, sheep grazing, and piled stone barriers bordering everything. The people have a slightly different accent
There are old stone graveyards that go back thousands of years and little houses in people’s yards that are “for the ferries”.
There’s virtually no crime and the biggest scandal was when, a few years back, the wife of the policeman ran away to America with the priest.
The main attraction is Dun Aonghasa, a quite impressive prehistoric fort that no one quite knows why it was built, or whom the people were trying to defend themselves from.
The Cliffs of Moher:
What I love about staying in hostels is the opportunity to meet fellow travelers. My second night, I met another female solo traveler and we decided to book the Cliffs of Moher tour. Again I was able to use my student ID to get a 5 euro discount along with the hostel discount which was another 5 euro off making it 15 euro for a 10 hour tour / bus transfer. That night we went out together and I celebrated my 32nd birthday pub hopping in Galway and flirting with more bartenders. I apparently have a thing for bartenders / bar owners (or they have a thing for me?) which I never knew about until I visited Ireland, but every bar I went to here there was a cute bartender that chatted me up and gave me free drinks for my birthday.
Now the thing I don’t like about hostels is that sometimes you end up with really rude people in your dorm. There was a group of girls from Quebec that came in from partying around 3 AM to change their clothes and redo their makeup and hair and whispered gossip about other girls the whole time while making lots of noise. Then there was a guy who kept hacking and coughing and making weird noises and walking around in his underwear. So rude and between them all, we hardly slept and were exhausted when it came time to get up and get our tour bus. Then we could not find out tour bus! First we walked in the wrong direction then we righted ourselves and made it to the spot where the guy at the hostel had directed us but it was not right. We asked a bus driver who directed us to another spot that was also not the right spot and got directed to another spot. Meanwhile I was running around to all these spots with my luggage because I was planning to grab a bus back to Dublin right after the tour in order to make it back in time to flirt with my Irish bartender.
We finally found the bus and got on our way, only to find we were being put in a van with no music, a driver and only 2 other people and that we’d rejoin the main tour later. This could have been nice except the driver did not talk at all and didn’t know what he was doing or where he was going so it was a rather long boring drive and then we were worried we wouldn’t actually be let in.
The Cliffs of Moher were totally worth it when we finally made it to them and a nice hike, they allow you to walk on a path right along the edges of the cliff although there is also a path behind a barrier for those who are afraid of heights.
I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves but this is definitely one of my recommended must sees for Ireland.
After 2 hours of hiking around the Cliffs (honestly if it hadn’t been so freezing, we would have stayed longer), we went to the Puffins Nest Coffee Shop at the visitor center and had surprisingly the most delicious beef and Guinness pie I ever ate. I literally spent the rest of my time in Ireland trying to find another one like it.
We then met up with the larger tour bus and a much nicer and more informative driver named Patrick who told us all about Irish history, the potato famine, window taxes, the Irish rebellion, coffin ships and even sang us a beautiful song about selling matchsticks that just about almost made me cry. All this while driving a gigantic tour bus on the most narrow roads I’ve ever seen. I also really want to learn more about Irish history now.
On the way back to Galway, we made stops at the Burren and assorted old buildings and castles. I am sad that I didn’t get to see Connemara this time around because I arrived in Galway a day and a half late due to my drunken misadventures involving a cute bartender but at least I was headed back to Dublin to celebrate my birthday again there with the cute bartender.
I used to be more afraid of heights before I came to Ireland, something about this place makes me fearless. I was sitting on the edges of cliffs, standing on overhanging rocks, I don’t know why but I like this feeling that Ireland gives me!