Meandering the Streets of Galway

Trip Start Mar 01, 2005
Trip End May 20, 2005

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Sunday, May 15, 2005

Galway is a city bustling with energy, though you soon find out much of it is the energy of tourists. This has to be the Bed & Breakfast capital of the world, as a bus trip to the outskirts of the city limits reveals every second house (if not every one) runs a B&B operation, and most have no vacancy.... cha ching!

This city knows what it is and does it very well, which must contribute a great deal to its success. It's a tourist trap, but not neccessarily in a bad way. Yes they're willing to sell every last piece of their sweet Irish heritage on street corners, but at the same time, this is one place where Ireland's heritage continues to thrive. Kids are shuttled here during summers to receive training in their country's history, Irish dancing, the Gaelic language, etc... It's much like the way Canada's natives hock their hand-made and mass produced wares at Victoria's Inner Harbour and Tofino in B.C., or Australia's aboriginals in Sydney and Cairns. It's a great way for them to make their living and educate the world about their stunning histories and way life used to be on the land. Obviously there are pratfalls in making those comparisons, but it also makes sense in many ways.

This is one place where Erin and I had to be sucked into a B&B. It was shocking to find out we'd pay almost the same for a hostel there as getting a B&B and you really can't do Ireland purely on hostels. Now, the person running the establishment had almost given away our room by the time we got there (we got lost and she was handing out the key to someone else as we approached), so she gave us a discount. It turned out hat we liked the place so much that we stayed there two nights and found a restaurant we liked so much (Riordan's) that we ate there for our two dinners. Definitely creatures of habit.

There are a few musts you have to do in Galway. One is find an Irish band, which we tried to do but we got kind of smoked out before the band got really going. Another is Irish dancing, though there didn't happen to be any at that particular night we were around. So, O-for-two, we maintained the pocketbooks of Galway's resident artisans by doing the other Galway must -- shopping. There are malls and little stores, but the real Galway shopping experience is found in the little markets set up each day and in the artists plying their trade on the street corners. Shopping's not my bag, but there was no pushiness, a jovial atmosphere and a lot of crap to make fun of. So I got by and Erin got stuff. There were also Irish carollers singing in the street and other musicians doing a little bit of everything. It all adds to the energy and makes for some great strolling.

No, it's not rapelling down a 30-metre waterfall in Australia, but Galway still managed to make its way into my good books. The place is energetic, the people are mellow (oxymoronic, I know), and some extra time to explore would've provided even more check marks in its favour I'm sure. The terrain on the outskirts has some crazy rock fences, some beautiful homes, tonnes of character and would've made some fun times if we weren't on a bus carrying us off to the Aran Islands (also very much worth the trip).

I assume we'll be back one day if Erin has anything to say about it, and it'll look and feel pretty much the exact same.
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