Day 3: Day Trip to Galway and Cliffs of Moher
On our third day in Ireland, my mom and I woke up bright and early to catch a cab – to catch a bus – to leave for Galway. We stopped at a local coffee-shop near our bus stop, a totally non-descript place that looked like what you would find at a gas station in the U.S. The owner was just pulling fresh pastries out of a hot oven as we walked in. It smelled heavenly. We ordered lattes that were just as good as what you would find anywhere else in Dublin. I have never been disappointed by coffee or pastries anywhere in Europe, it’s amazing. Anyway, after a little confusion, we made it on to the bus to head west across the country for Galway. It was a beautiful ride through the countryside of Ireland.
After about two and a half hours, we arrived in Galway and checked in to our hotel. Our hotel was directly across from the coach station from where we were to leave for the Cliffs.. We had a little downtime, so we sat in the bar area of the hotel (a really quaint hotel with the nicest staff) and ordered more coffee and pastries. Apparently, we hadn’t had enough yet. The guy serving us was just another example of how incredibly happy and helpful Irish folk can be. We all joked about how it was not an ideal day to visit the Cliffs due to the strong winds. He spun it around and said that the wind would cause the ocean to be rough, thus creating beautiful scenery. Always positive, I love that. Anywho, we boarded the bus soon after that and headed for the Cliffs. Along the way, we passed Dunguaire Castle depicted below.
It was a beautiful ride. We passed by mountains, rolling fields, LOTS of sheep, stone walls, everything you would imagine Ireland to be. We also drove through beautiful, old, and colorful little towns sprinkling the landscape.
About two-thirds of the way through the ride, we stopped for lunch in a fishing village called Doolin. As you can see from the pictures, the weather was changing by the minute. We had sun, rain, clouds, wind, all within a single hour. They say that Ireland can get all four seasons in a day.
We ate at a pub called Gus O’Connor’s. The food was really good and it was a very busy place. At the pub, we met a girl from Switzerland who was also on our bus tour. We struck up a conversation with her and she stuck with us for most of the trip. I love meeting people from around the world. I find it so interesting to hear their perspective on things. I love making a connection with strangers, even if only for a few hours. I think it’s really incredible that most Europeans travel so much, especially while they are young. I know it’s easier to get around mainland Europe, but travel is something I think more Americans should make time for. Even if it’s seeing more of our own country. Education should include travel. There should be more opportunities for students to take some time and see the world. But I digress.
After lunch, we boarded the bus and took a 15 minute ride to the Cliffs of Moher. It was a very dangerous day due to the strong wind. Our bus driver wasn’t happy about the Cliffs even being open to the public that day. Our bus was swaying back and forth from the wind when we stopped–I honestly thought it was going to roll over. There was a moment where I felt a little uneasy, but that wasn’t going to stop us from seeing the Cliffs.
The pictures don’t come close to portraying the beauty of what we saw. The dramatic landscape was breath-taking (although it may have just been the incredible winds taking our breath away).
Beyond the cliffs were the Aran Islands. We could barely make them out due to the mist and cloud coverage over the sea, but we saw their silhouettes. We were lucky to have the sun come out while we were there, turning everything bright. And the guy from our hotel was right– the ocean was very active, which was pretty to see.
There were pathways to walk along the Cliffs, but there wasn’t much that stood between you and the edge. I read stories of people falling off, so that encouraged us to stay back a little. The wind was actually knocking people down (two people fell and had to be taken to the hospital from the wind blowing them over!) It was definitely an adventure.
After we departed, wind-burned but happy, we headed back for Galway. We made a few stops along the coastline and saw the Burren, but there are just too many pictures for me to post them all. We arrived back to Galway just in time to change and head into town for dinner.
Galway was one of my most treasured memories of the trip. It is just the sweetest little town and I will never forget it. I loved their quaint streets. There was a very different feel from Dublin here. We ate at a restaurant called The Quay Street Kitchen, recommended by a woman from our hotel. It did not disappoint. I ordered a steaming pot of mussels and followed that up with a hot cup of tea. It felt so good to relax since my mom and I both felt abused from the day we had.
After dinner we walked around a few shops, my mom bought a couple souvenirs, then we headed to find some live music. Galway is well-known for their musicians. They say most musicians in Ireland get their start on the streets of Galway. Their street performers are almost as good, if not better, than those performing inside the pubs there.
We found ourselves a corner table and listened to a band play for awhile before heading back for the hotel. It was a remarkable day.
Yikes, I think this post is already too long! I was going to include day 4 in this post, but I guess that has to be a separate post.
Well, there you have it, that was Day 3.
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