It’s difficult to know where to begin. The people, the music, the food, the sites- once you step on the streets of Galway, you know you are in a magnificent European city. Galway has great energy. Maybe it was because the sun was out? Or because it was relatively warm day which can make even the toughest Galwegian smile. Locals were enjoying this beautiful day, and we were fortunate enough to be in this moment.
There are little cafe’s that line the street with sidewalk tables that were filled today with friends sharing a coffee or a meal. The musicians on almost every corner, playing traditional Irish music added to the joy of the day. The breeze was cool but no one paid it any attention.
The city of Galway dates back to the early 1100’s. For centuries Galway was controlled by 14 families, known as the Tribes of Galway. Then in the late 1400’s, it was granted a charter, making it a royal borough. As the story goes on , entering into the Middle Age’s , Galway was an important port, with the main import being wine. This is a city of resilient people that survived fires, disease, and famine. Today, it is one of Ireland and Europe’s most prosperous cities.
There are many things to do here. There are the numerous historic sites; Spanish Arch, St Nicholas Church , Galway Catherdral, the Riverside Walk as well a as the National University of Ireland and the Claddagh Museum (Galway is where the ring was first made). We decided to take the road less traveled and experience the city like locals.
We started the morning off with coffee at Mocha Beans on Cross Street http://www.mochabeans.com to fuel up on cappuccino and a true Irish breakfast called Prata Bacailte- which is a potato stuffed with things like cheese and bacon or cheese and sweetcorn. A delicious way to start off your morning. Bundling up , we stepped outside to start our Galway adventure.
Our first stop was a whiskey store/ pub where we met Sean. Sean and Rob (see picture below) hit it off right away and before you know it, there was an impromptu whiskey tasting. It is a bit too strong for my liking but we walked out with a bottle of Green Spot Whiskey distilled specifically for Mitchell and Sons of Dublin- a unique taste as it is aged in Kentucky bourbon barrels and then in Bordeaux wine barrels.
The streets were starting to fill with children from the local school on their lunch break wanting to take advantage of such a beautiful day. As we wandered down the cobblestone streets we came upon a local bookstore – Charlie Bryne’s Bookshophttp://www.charliebyrne.ie A step inside revealed over 100,000 books to choose from. A bit overwhelming, but we decided to take on the challenge. I found a lovely book called “100 Letters that Changed the World”. It includes such great pieces as Leonardo da Vinci’s resume, love letters from Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn, as well as a letter that let to the downfall of Oscar Wilde “J’accuse!” and so much more.
We moved in and out of stores, trying not to pick up too many souvenirs and were doing quite well until we came upon the Galway Woollen Market that had a sign “Ships free worldwide” and we were hooked. The items were gorgeous! Thick wool sweaters, brightly colored scarves and hats as well as delicate Irish linen. I think I did most of my Christmas shopping here and the best part was I didn’t have to find room for it in my suitcase!!
It was almost time to get on the road to head to our next destination but we needed a bite to eat to tide us over. We decided to try out Quays Bar and Restaurant https://quaysgalway.ie and grabbed a table right by the window so we could see what was going on outside – we didn’t want to miss a thing. We ordered the chicken and stuffing sandwich ..which was the tastiest sandwich I have ever had. The grilled chicken remained moist by the warm season stuffing that was laid on top of it, both nestled in between freshly baked bread. With an accompaniment of fresh chips, it will be a meal that I won’t soon forget. Hoping I can duplicate it with a box of Stove Top stuffing when I get home.
We were sad to leave our Galway. We promised each other we would be back soon. With a deep breath, we climbed into our car, ready to once again brave the wild Irish roads to our next destination of Enniscrone.