I love reading, especially crime novels/psychological thrillers, and when I first discovered Tana French in 2013, I became obsessed. Her books follow the Murder squad of the Dublin police, each focusing on a different murder, and are the kind that stick in your mind for days after. The books take place in both Dublin and the Irish countryside, and when my boyfriend and I were planning a vacation for the summer of 2015, Ireland immediately jumped to mind. Idyllic landscapes, Guinness, castles, whiskey, sheep, cider, and a decent dollar to Euro exchange rate! We took advantage of the Independence Day holiday from work (sorry America) and headed to the Emerald Isle on July 3rd, 2015!
After spending months reading the Lonely Planet Ireland guide and talking with friends/family who had traveled to Ireland, we decided on three main stops: Galway, Killarney, and Dublin. Galway was our first stop and our home base for the first few days of the trip.
We landed in Dublin in the morning on Saturday July 4, 2015, a little tired, dehydrated, and ready to explore! I was surprised/amused to see that the airport was decorated for Independence Day-I guess in Ireland they celebrate July 4 like we celebrate St. Patrick’s day here?? We got our little red Toyota and some Euros and headed off (on the wrong side of the road-so weird!) towards Galway. Now, I grew up in Houston, so I’m used to massive highways, crazy drivers, debris on the road, and ridiculous signage, but the highways in Ireland were the total opposite! We were nervous about having to navigate without Google Maps, but really had no trouble on the way from Dublin to Galway. We stopped in a little town to get some water and Diet Coke (I’ve stopped drinking Diet Coke for the most part but just had to try some European DC to see how it compared), and made a lunch stop in Athlone, about halfway between Dublin and Galway. We had sandwiches and coffee and pressed on to Galway!
We debated for a long time about whether to take a bus/train or rent a car. Cons of renting a car: expensive, driving on the other side of the road, most cars in Europe are stick shift, parking, etc. Pros: we can go where we want when we want, adventure, flexibility, roundabouts (just kidding, those still confuse me). I’m glad we decided to have a car for the first part of our trip-we planned a spontaneous trip to Connemara (which I’ll write about soon!) and we had SO much fun listening to Irish radio. Again, I’m used to the majority of the radio stations being rap, Spanish, or traffic reports, so it was fun and refreshing to listen to the equivalent of small-town newspaper on air.
Galway! This fun university town on the western coast of Ireland did not disappoint. We stayed at Jurys Inn and had a lovely view of the River Corrib. As soon as we got to the room, I wanted to go to sleep, but instead we had more coffee and tried to get on the local time zone. That first night, we wandered around Galway, touring the Spanish arch, the Galway city museum, the local Cathedral and the High Street. The High Street was exactly what I imagined an Irish street to look like-narrow, winding, and full of pubs! Our first dinner was a delicious seafood meal at Oscar’s Bistro-we got to the small restaurant just in time to snag a table. We loved the late sunsets in Ireland (10 pm in the summer) and took advantage of the extra daylight to explore Galway and of course have a few extra pints. Before dinner, we saw some funny Americans in the lobby of our hotel drinking Bud Light and wearing ridiculous USA gear, and they were still there when we came back that night. Sigh.
We slept well our first night in Galway and got up early the next morning to catch the bus to Rossaveel to catch the ferry to the Aran Islands, which I’ll talk about next time on the CB Radio blog!