I'm sitting here finishing off the last of the chocolate we got in The Burren and looking through all of the pictures we took over our long weekend in Ireland, thinking that I better start writing now while the experience is still fresh in my mind! We dropped Stanley off with his sitters (a family of four, he sure had plenty of attention while we were gone) on a Thursday and flew from Bristol to Dublin in the evening. The flight is an easy 40 minutes, not bad! We stayed in a Dublin overnight and took a train to Galway the next morning, where we spent the next two nights. The trip flew by and we headed back to Bristol around noon on Sunday. It's been a busy few weeks (I started a working again) but I finally feel ready to start reliving our Irish adventure!
Arriving in Dublin
Our flight got in around 6:30pm. We hopped on a bus to the city centre and walked about half a mile to our hostel in Temple Bar. The hostel we stayed at felt like a true hostel... not exactly luxurious but we had a private room with a bed and (tiny) ensuite bathroom, so it did the job! We chose to stay in the Temple Bar district because of its central location and reputation as one of the more historical and bustling areas of Dublin, with lots of famous pubs, restaurants, and shops. Vikings set up camp in this area as early as 795 AD! As usual, we Americans are fascinated by all things old, so this was very exciting for us.
We headed to Quay's Restaurant for dinner, only a few blocks from our hostel. It felt like a true Irish pub, with long benches at the tables and a homey feel. We put our name in for a table and grabbed a spot at the bar, where I ordered my first Irish Guinness! *insert songs of angels here* Guinness in Ireland is different from Guinness anywhere else. It's thick like chocolate milk, which I know doesn't sound particularly appetising but it's surprisingly enjoyable. The flavour is almost like a coffee and the finish is velvety and smooth, making it almost too easy to drink. Don't believe me when I say Guinness is better in Ireland? Read why it's true here.
Dinner was delicious and comforting and a great start to our trip. Luc ordered bangers and mash and I ordered cottage pie. We also had the best bread pudding of my life. Thinking about the food makes me hungry...
Unfortunately Luc wasn't feeling well throughout dinner so he went back to the hostel while I stayed out for a pint at The Temple Bar Pub (conveniently next door to our hostel). This was on my Irish bucket list and I had to go for at least a drink, even if it meant wandering in by myself. The place was packed, as I expected, but the craic was good. Being probably one of the biggest tourist attractions in Ireland, I wasn't expecting the bar to feel like a true Irish pub, though I was still surprised when one of the guys from the duo playing music asked "anyone here from Ireland tonight?" and the response was CRICKETS. It was nevertheless cool to see so many people from so many different cultures all together in one room enjoying a pint. I finished my Guinness and headed back to the hostel.
For a quick history lesson on the Temple Bar district and how it got its name, click here.
From Dublin to Galway
We checked out of our hostel early Friday morning and made our way to the train station, where we boarded a train from Dublin to Galway. We had a nice view of the Irish countryside and the sunrise along the way. The first thing we did when we arrived in Galway was walk across the street to rent a car. Neither of us have driven on the left side of the road before, so we were both a little anxious about this! But we've been told that Ireland is best seen by car, and we only had a few days in Galway, so we decided to give it a shot. (Don't worry, Luc drove, not me!) We then drove to the nearby village of Salthill (about a mile from the centre of Galway) to drop off our things at the hostel. This hostel, The Nest, was MUCH different from the hostel in Dublin, we loved it! It didn't really feel like a hostel at all. The rooms were cute and clean with string lights around the ceiling and a little shelf of used books. The lobby/communal area had "nest" themed decor and a cafe area. They also had a free breakfast of fruit, pastries, yogurt/granola, and coffee in the mornings. The coffee was served in a miniature french press, which is pre-filled with grounds and ready for you to fill with water. So cute! The ladies at the front desk were very helpful, they gave us lots of tips about where to eat on our first day the best route to the cliffs on our second day.
We wandered around Galway for a few hours in the afternoon. We walked along the Salthill Promenade to get to the centre of town. It was cold and windy but the view was worth it! Once we made it to the west side of town we stopped at a great little cafe/restaurant called Kai to warm up with some tea, soup, and cake!
After exploring the shops on the west side of Galway for a bit we headed into the city centre. There was so much to see! Here's a summary of what we did:
- Shopped on Shop Street
- Visited the youngest cathedral in Europe
- Saw St. Nicholas' Collegiate Church
- Walked under the Spanish Arch
- Visited the Galway City Museum, where we got to see an original Galway Hooker! (don't worry: it's a boat, not a prostitute)
- Went to the most adorable bookshop ever
If you ever go to Galway, I highly recommend seeing all of the sights we explored this afternoon! Galway is very walkable and oh-so Irish.
We eventually made it back to the hostel where we napped for a bit. The nap was much needed after all of the walking we did! In the evening we got some fish n chips at The Galleon and then went to O'Connor's Bar near our hostel in Salthill, which was made famous as the setting for Ed Sheeran's "Galway Girl" video! This was my favourite bar/pub in Ireland. The walls and ceiling are covered with unique antiques and all of the tables in the pub are converted old sewing tables! The craic in this bar was very Irish, with the musicians casually sitting in a booth rather than on a stage. It makes for a very relaxed atmosphere, which was welcomed after a long day of exploring.
Exploring Cliffs of Moher (and more!)
We saw SO MUCH on Saturday! We headed out early in the morning in our rented car towards Cliffs of Moher, and made many stops along the way. The winding roads through the Irish countryside were beautiful but pretty bonkers and slightly terrifying at times. We somehow managed to survive! Our Saturday travels are best described through pictures, but here's a quick summary of everything we saw:
- Dunguaire Castle
- A full double rainbow!
- Lots and lots of SHEEP!
- Hazel Mountain Chocolate Factory, where we got to see (and sample) chocolate being made
- Corcomroe Abbey
- Poulnabrone Dolmen, a megalithic portal tomb in The Burren (older than the pyramids!)
- Kilfenora Cathedral and High Crosses
- Nagles Bar in Kilfenora, a traditional Irish pub (this began as just a bathroom break, but we felt obligated to have a pint and chat with the bartenders!)
- Cliffs of Moher!
- Gus O'Connor's Pub in Doolin
After a long full day of exploring we took a much needed nap back at the hostel (noticing a nap trend here?). Saturday night we went to a play at the local theatre in Galway. We hadn't originally planned to see a play, but the play being performed that evening happened to be by an author who Luc studied in college! The play is about an Irishman, an Englishman, and an American, so we HAD to see it! (because we're Americans living in England and visiting Ireland) The play was great! Plus it had a bar, so I got to drink Guinness while watching. The next morning we took a train back to Dublin and flew back to Bristol.
PHEW! I had been procrastinating writing this for awhile. We did so much on this trip and I didn't want to leave anything out! Coincidentally ended up finishing this post on St. Patrick's Day! We went to Wells, England last weekend so another post will be coming soon, and we're leaving for Poland in 10 days! Thanks for reading my travel rambles!