Thursday, October 6, 2011

Tour of Ireland Part II: Galway

Following our eating and drinking binge in Dublin, Kyle and I headed to the other side of the country to Galway for some real Irish countryside sightseeing. But first! My drink of choice for the duration of the trip:
I've always counted myself as a non-whiskey drinker, but after our stuffed dead cat tour of the Jameson distellery, I'm happy to report I downed at least 28 Jameson and Gingers over the remainder of the trip. After a two and a half hour drive across Ireland, you need roughly 7 drinks to calm your nerves. That's just a quick guess, though.

I was excited about Galway since everyone I spoke to about our trip raved about it as their favorite spot. When we checked into our hotel, I realized EVERYONE LIED ABOUT HOW FUN IT WAS!! 

Just kidding!!! Kind of. See, Kyle and I had this awesome trip planned by an agency at all 5 star hotels (many with world class golf courses, but since Kyle and I don't golf and also the weather was totally shitty, what did it matter anyway??), and having just left a gorgeous Four Seasons, I had high hopes for the Glenlo Abbey. Let me count the ways in which said hopes were dashed:

1.) There was no valet. Yes, I'm being snobby, but like I said--FIVE STARS! Why should we have to park our own car, in the rain, at a place that's supposed to be known for its service?

2.) The lobby looked like a 7-11. It was cluttered with old furniture and magazines and they sold  cigarettes behind the check-in desk. I am not kidding:

3.) The shower door was only half-existent. I don't know if this is some kind of Irish thing (although in fairness, we didn't see it anywhere else), but the accordion style shower "door" only unfolded halfway, ensuring a deadly pool of water would collect in JUST the spot you would inevitably step into upon completion of your shower. 

4.) The lighting throughout the hotel was dismal, at best. I probably looked more drag queen-y than usual since I had no appropriate lighting with which to apply my make-up. It felt like something out of The Shining or Amityville Horror. I mean, the fact that Kyle and I even lived to tell the tale is a straight up miracle.

Look, I'm not just trying to bitch here. Okay, well, maybe a little. I'm just telling you this so you don't stay there. Plus, the hotel was about 5 miles outside of the city center which meant any time we wanted to get dinner or go to a bar, we had to hop in a cab. If I were to do it over, I'd rather stay in the G hotel, located in the city center, replete with pink decor and designed by English hat/fascinator-maker to the stars, Philip Treacy. That said, we did see a lot of gorgeous things and meet a lot of fun people.

Our first full day in Galway, we decided to explore the grounds of the hotel and then head out toward Connemara Park to see the sights.

Here's where I told Kyle to "touch" the top of our hotel (and yes, it doesn't look that bad from the outside, but I was just too upset to take pictures of the inside. I just.couldn'
There I am, strolling the grounds mid-twirl, as I'm wont to do. P to the S, it was hella cold and incredibly windy thanks to the remnants of our East Coast hurricane barreling through the country. We braved the elements though and headed toward Connemara Park. We never actually got to the park though because we kept stopping to take in the scenery. It was, in a word, incroyable! (That's 'incredible' for you non-French speakers).
Literally, these views are just on the side of the road, awaiting your awe and amazement. Just be careful about pulling over, as there are no shoulders to speak of on the country roads.
I think what really struck Kyle and me most was how diverse the land was on the west coast. One minute you'd be driving alongside mountains and rivers, and the next, you'd be waiting for a sheep to cross the road. I wish there was a punchline to follow that.
I don't know if y'all realize this, but seeing a herd of sheep on the side of the road was LITERALLY at the top of my list of things to see in Ireland. I need more hobbies.
At this point, I got scared the sheep would attack me and hustled my ass back into our hatcback rental. I can TELL when a wild animal is giving me the death stare. It's like, an instinct. An animal instinct. ZING!

Eventually, we made our way to Kylemore Abbey and Gardens. Basically, some rich people in the 1800's built this place to live and then they died and now it's a nunnery. NUTSHELL.
Oh, and, it's totally gorgeous!!
I thought it was interesting that the gardens are maintained to this day with only plants that would have been available to the family during the time they lived there.
That night (incidentally, being our last), we went for dinner in the city center of Galway. The food was pretty good, but I was most taken with the pitcher of water with mint and fresh orange slices.
The pear tart was pretty delicious too.
We wrapped up the night (and the early hours of the morning) at a college bar with a pretty awesome cover band. And even though they refused to take any of my Lady Gaga requests, we did meet a few Americans who introduced us to this undeniably Irish mixer:
Fruice: It's juice, kind of.

We're off to Adare (outside of Limmerick) next!!


Unknown said...

uh i want to go now! and ps why are the sheep spray painted? did someone try to diy them?

Anonymous said...

Lover your hat


Anonymous said...

gorgeous countryside! i was in dublin in march of this year and we had planned to venture to galway, but at the last minute changed our mind. i SO regret that!!!

happy weekend!

Tulips & Tulle said...

Looks amazing!


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