Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Vicarious Tourism: Galway and Points West

We just had a three-day weekend in Ireland, thanks to a bank holiday. I love bank holidays - it's a holiday that doesn't have to be (or pretend to be) about veterans or Columbus or anything else but an extra day off work. I took the opportunity to go to Galway and see some of Ireland's west coast.

Galway is smaller than I thought it would be - a university, a handful of pedestrian streets full of pubs and shops selling rings and sweaters, a river, and some coastline. Galway is a much more nautical place than Dublin; though they both have harbors and seagulls and things, you can tell the ocean means more somehow in Galway. And the seafood, as you would expect, is fantastic. You can exhaust the city's attractions in less than a day, unless you want to test out every pub, in which case you'll be there for weeks. (That might not be a bad plan.) It's a cute town though, and makes a nice base for day trips to the surrounding area.

I had planned to visit the Aran Islands while I was in the neighborhood, but strong winds from a storm in Scotland closed the ferry and scrapped that plan. Instead I took a bus trip to the Cliffs of Moher, where I got some lovely photos but almost got blown over several times by winds powerful enough to pull sea spray straight up the 200m cliff face, and, I feared, to rip my ears off my head. I also learned, in several wet spells over the weekend, that my rain gear isn't quite as waterproof as I had thought. Oops. Another decent day trip from Galway is a tour of Connemara, a wild and woolly land with nothing but peat bogs, rocks, and sheep. Those things make for some pretty breathtaking landscapes though.

So it was a damp and windy weekend, but well worth the trip. I hope to be able to go back again one day and see some more of Ireland's Wild Wild West, on a slightly more relaxed itinerary next time.

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