Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Galway Photo Diary

In yesterday's Life Chats, I got into the personal aspect of my solo trip, so today I am going to share more of what I did in Galway and who I met during my stay.  This will also give more detail into how I booked my tours and hotel in case anyone is interested in learning more!  I decided to do a separate post for Dublin, which will come at the end of the week, because I didn't want to overload you all with a thousand photos and info at once.  I could honestly talk about this trip and experience for all eternity, but I am sure at some point you will all get tired of hearing about it. :)

When I was in Galway, I stayed at this super cute boutique hotel called The House Hotel.  It was in the perfect location, The Spanish Arch/Latin Quarter, as I was literally a block away from the main area.  I found this hotel through recommendations from friends and I checked the reviews on Trip Advisor, which by the way is an amazing travel site. It helped me so much and I wish I had known about it sooner.  I should mention that I took this trip off season, meaning that there weren't as many tourists as there usually are.  That ended up working out in my favor though in terms of hotel rates and flights!  There are definitely cheaper ways such as hostels, airbnb, and bed & breakfasts, but since this was my first time alone I felt more comfortable staying in a hotel. Also, being there in November was magical because they had already decorated for Christmas. <3

The weather in Galway was pretty intense with wind, lots of rain and even sudden bursts of hail!  Regardless of this though, I still walked around everywhere and did my best to enjoy my time. I'll take rain and wind in Ireland over rain and wind in Jersey any day. :) So my first day there after checking in, I knocked out for several hours because the travel kicked my butt! I immediately got caught in the downpour with my huge suitcase and could not catch a cab from the bus stop.  I had no idea where I was and part of me wanted to cry, BUT I held myself together and figured it out!  After my little nap I did some exploring to get familiar with the area and instantly found a cute cafĂ©.  At night, I went to my first solo dinner at Quays Kitchen and absolutely loved it!  I immediately made friends with two of the girls who worked there.  After that I went to my first authentic Irish pub alone.  I admit I was a little nervous at first, but several moments later I met Caley and her boyfriend.  A few moments after that we were snap chatting and drinking Guinness!  It was a great first night and meeting people so soon definitely made me happy.  I loved that everything in Galway was so close together so even though I did a lot of walking, I didn't have to go too far. 

A few weeks before my trip, I was put in contact with Louise, a blogger from Dublin who also works for Tourism Ireland.  She was so helpful and then put me in contact with Karen from Failte Ireland, another tourism company.  They helped me set up several tours in both Galway & Dublin that I probably would not have ever known about on my own.  I highly recommend setting up tours on your next travel!  So on the second morning, I had a private walking tour of Galway for about two hours with Conor.  I put him on my snapchat so some of you saw him and parts of the tour!  He taught me so much about the history of Galway that I was seriously blown away.  So many of the walls/buildings have been there since the Medieval times. I became slightly obsessed with them.  We went to two of the churches there, one of which has seriously been around forever, and to the university of Galway, NUI.  I loved the tour because I was able to have that one-on-one interaction and I enjoyed learning so much about this incredible place.  

After the tour I did my own thing and then later on at night I had dinner at this amazing restaurant, Artisan. That was my only expensive meal in Galway.  I got to sit right by the window and it was just super cozy and the food was amazing.  I do recommend when traveling alone to sit at the bar as this is the easiest way to meet people, but if the restaurant does not have a bar you're obviously forced to a table.  Typically though, you'll make friends with the servers and staff instantly.  After that I went to another pub to hear traditional Irish music, which I briefly mentioned yesterday is one of the moments I felt my father's presence.  I then went to another pub with a cover band and made some more friends!  They were students from the states who were there in Galway studying abroad.  They actually thought I was a student too! Loved them for that. :) 

The next day was my favorite day because it was the Cliffs of Moher tour.  I booked this through Viator, which one of my friends recommended.  I believe it was only $28 from Galway and included hotel pick up and several stops along the way to the cliffs, including a pub for lunch. I highly recommend this tour.  A few of you have asked me if it's best to do this or rent a car and I honestly think the tour is a better way to go. You also meet a ton of people this way and I think it gives you a different experience. This is when I met my new friend Dana and several others!  It's absolutely breathtaking and felt great to check it off my bucket list! 

 Later on at night I went back to Quays Kitchen, one of my favorite restaurants in Galway, and then hung out with Dana at several pubs.  I went to a pub every night while I was there and loved it!  I never do that back home.  My last day in Galway definitely made me sad as I did not want to leave.  If you ever get the chance to go to Ireland, you MUST do several nights in Galway as I know you will fall head over heels with it, just like I did.  On my last day, I treated myself to afternoon tea for the first time ever.  There's this adorable place directly across the street from the hotel called Cupan Tae. Later at night I had dinner with Karen from the tourism company.  She was lovely!  We followed that with drinks at The G Hotel, which was stunning.  After that, I head out to one last pub with Dana to say our goodbyes and I left early the next morning for Dublin!  

I know this was another long post and jam packed with photos, but truthfully it's hard to not share the whole experience!  I took way more photos and did my best to narrow them down. I also took several videos and at some point am hoping to edit them all together as my very first travel vlog. I hope this motivates you to take a trip to Ireland one day. :) My Dublin diary will be up at the end of the week, so stay tuned for more photos and info! <3