Around Galway county

Hello friends and family (and anyone else who has found this blog)! Its been a few days but, never fear, we are safe and have found an adapter to charge the laptop. Though we are writing this from Northern Ireland (Belfast to be exact), we will take a trip back in time to give you the blog posts that you’ve been waiting for. First up, day 2 of the honeymoon:

Still feeling rather tired from travel, we decided to take the morning slow and spent some time walking through the quiet streets of the city centre. With a brief (typical American) stop in a bakery, we grabbed some coffee and a pastry and walked along the river to enjoy the rush of people and cars in the early morning, still somehow quieter than any rush hour we’ve ever experienced. Finding a spot to sit next to the Spanish arches, we planned out our day. Quick historical note, the wall the arches are in was built around 1584 and the arches were added later (in the 18th century) to allow access to and from the town to the quays.

Trying to take on the Irish spirit of not rushing, we continued wandering the streets of Galway to come upon a lovely book shop with a large number of books for sale, some new and some printed in the early 1900s, for €1. The first book to catch my eye is called The Seamstress and has received high ratings on Amazon (expect a review sometime in the future). We browsed for roughly 45 minutes and ended up settling on 3 old hardback books (Coffee at Eleven, Moulin Rouge, Lucy Crown), If I Should Die Before I Wake, Pond (by a Galway local author), For the Love of Ireland (a literary tour of Ireland with excerpts from Irish authors), and I’m a Girl (a children’s book all about empowering little girls to be who they are even if it doesn’t fit the stereotype). I joked with Jer that I may need another suitcase just for all the books I’m hoping to find (kind of kidding and kind of not).

With already tired feet and arms full of books, we made our way back to the B&B to grab our car and head to Coral Beach (or Coral Strand). If you know my family, particularly my mother, I’m sure you’ve heard of this beach and how wonderful it is. At a glance, it looks like any other Oregon beach might (crashing waves, overcast skies, etc) but, getting closer, you realize that its not sand covered but entirely made up of coral fragments. Even in a light rain we roamed the small beach looking for our favorite pieces, Chinese hat shells, and beautifully colored rocks.

As much as we can, we’ve tried to avoid the speedways and opt for the back roads. While I, as the passenger, absolutely love the narrow roads and sweeping landscapes, Jeremy is not quite as thrilled. Though I do applaud how quickly he has adapted to driving on the left side and, with the exception of a minor bump on our first day, hasn’t hit anything. So, on our way to the next stop, I detoured us through a bog which was an absolutely delight and the views were nothing short of amazing.

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Next we visited Kylemore Abbey in Connemara, County Galway. The Abbey was built by a wealthy English doctor for his wife after having honeymooned in the area (*hint hint*). Madly in love, the doctor did all he could for his wife, building the magnificent manor, a Victorian walled garden, and…On the grounds, just a short walk around the lake, is a mini Neo-Gothic church built as a memorial to his wife after having died of dysentery on a trip in Egypt. Just past that lay her crematorium where, at the young age of 45, his wife and him now rest. [click on images to enlarge]

If you’re reading this blog because you are planning a trip to Ireland, I highly suggest taking the extra time to explore every path. Most of the people we passed would stop once reaching the Neo-Gothic church but, just beyond the crematorium, was a fun little sculpture and wishing rock. The objective is to stand with your back against the large rock and throw a small pebble over the top. If you are successful in doing this, a wish is granted. Not saying what ours were but so far they have indeed been granted!

The manor is magnificent from the outside but, unfortunately, only a few select rooms were open for touring (5 to be exact), which diminished some of the splendor of the beautiful exterior when we first walked to it. The church was Jer’s favorite and we made sure to light a candle located in on of the alcoves as a prayer for all our loved ones. We then hiked back to the abbey/ manor and further on another 1.5km to the gardens. Now, when planning our trip to Ireland, we were warned of midges, which are like the devil spawn of flies and mosquitos. We had the displeasure of slapping them away from our heads the whole experience in the gardens, but that didn’t diminish the beautiful landscapes to been seen. After a lengthy 3 hours of walking around the grounds and exploring all we could, we opted to wait for the shuttle back to the parking lot. After a brief snooze on the shuttle bus and visit to the gift shop (because we are #tourists), we hopped in the rental car and set course back to Galway.

Arrived back in Galway around dinner time (7:30pm), we parked at the B&B and ventured back toward Quay Street to have some supper and visit a few pubs. Taking what we initially thought was a recommendation from the guide book, we decided to eat at McDonagh’s chippery and enjoyed fish (cod) and chips that would put our favorite Lincoln City restaurant to shame (which made the minor mistake totally worth it).

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Having enough of the comments from the German woman eyeballing our soon to be empty seats at the table, we decided to visit Sehan Ua Neachtain (or Neachtain for short – nock-tans) for our first real pint of Guinness. As you may know, the Guinness that is imported to America is both pasteurized and sweetened whereas off the draught is much lighter tasting and the head is substantially more creamy. The most knowledgeable bartenders will make you wait for the pint to finish settling, as they fill the glass in three separate pulls of the draught. It’s obscure to hear, but the difference is there. Jer had his first Guinness while Ariel opted for a local-to-Galway craft beer called Galway Hookers (Hookers referring to the popular fishing boats in the quay). We finished our beers and walked up the street to a more casual pub that was showing a football (you know, American soccer) match where Jer decided to have some Jamison on the rocks and Ariel her first Guinness. Much to our delight, we were present to watch a very perturbed Irish man sitting next to us at the bar rip up his betting ticket as Monaco defeated Tottenham as he simultaneously complained to his wife who didn’t seem interested in his woes.

We counted the two establishment pub crawl a success, and walked the 15 minutes back to our B&B where we fell asleep almost immediately. Day two of walking nearly 20,000 steps.

Until next time!

The Jensens

 

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