TRAVEL: IRELAND – PART 2

Last week I wrote about Dublin, the Powerscourt Estate in County Wicklow, and my tour through Northern Ireland. While all of those places are beautiful, there’s nowhere quite like Galway and Dingle. I have such fond memories there and look forward to going back someday.

2011

Christina and I loved Galway so much, we stayed there longer than we had planned. From the moment we stepped off of the train from Dublin, we knew we were going to love being in Galway. It’s a tiny city, in comparison to Dublin, and we felt it was the perfect size for two country lovers. After checking into our hostel, we went out to explore the sights. What we found was a cute little one street city centre that led us straight to the Galway waterfront.

Being music lovers, Christina and I loved the atmosphere in Galway. We couldn’t get enough of the traditional Irish music and almost every pub had live bands. It seemed like it was a dream. The first pub we went to was called Taaffes and it was like we had stepped onto a movie set. One of the locals grabbed my hand to dance and, I kid you not, the whole pub broke out into Irish dancing! I couldn’t believe my eyes! I wish I had taken pictures of it, but I was far too busy attempting to Irish dance.

The next day, thoroughly exhausted from the dancing, we ventured into the city and stopped to watch a group of buskers. It turned out that they were staying in the same hostel as us and we quickly formed friendships. Christina and I spent every night watching them play at our favourite local pub, Barr an Chaladh. It’s a cozy little pub that has an open turf fire and traditional Irish music seven days a week. That’s the real Ireland experience. Forget the touristy pubs, Barr an Chaladh is a treasure.

Christina and I took a tour from Galway to the Cliffs of Moher. It was a fantastic experience! On our way to the cliffs, we stopped at the Ailwee Cave and Birds of Prey exhibition. The highlight for both Christina and I was holding an owl.

The Cliffs of Moher exceeded our expectations. Never had I seen anything like it and never have I seen anything like it since. The cliffs are a popular tourist destination and were used for movies such as The Princess Bride, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and Leap Year.

On the way home, we stopped in the Burren to take in the sights. It was a tour that I highly recommend and that I would definitely go on again. Christina and I also tried to take a tour to the Aran Islands, but the conditions were too bad for us to take the ferry across. That will be high on my list to do next time I’m in Galway.

 

Dingle comes in as a close second to Galway, but they are two different places that almost can’t be compared. Galway’s nightlife is the highlight while Dingle’s scenery can’t be beaten. It took three long bus rides to get to Dingle from Galway, but it was well worth the journey. Christina and I decided to tackle biking the Slea Head Loop. The Slea Head Loop is 47km (30mi) long and it starts and finishes in Dingle. You can drive it, but there’s not many places to pull over to take in the sights so biking is definitely worth it. We still talk about how this was the highlight of our trip. We took our time, stopping often to take pictures and enjoy the view. Halfway around the loop, it started raining and we stopped at a cafe to wait it out. It’s a good thing we stopped because we found out that there was a shortcut that shaved off a good hour of time. We were pretty tired at that point and were happy to have a shorter way back to our hostel.

Ireland continues to hold a special place in my heart and I’m so glad that I have so many great memories there with Christina. I have no idea when I’ll be able to go back, but I look forward to the time that I can create some new memories there with Peter.

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