The very first place we stopped was in Athlone. It was a charming little town and home to Sean’s Bar, the oldest pub in Europe (900 A.D.)! It also had some great ruins to explore and we had a fabulous and the first of many Irish breakfasts at A Slice of Life.
We then headed to Galway. We stayed at the Kilbree House, – http://www.kilbree.com/ which was a great little B&B. The lady who owns it is just the sweetest, the breakfast was delicious and the room was big, clean and very affordable. The sweet lady even chewed-out a cab company and moved her business to a new one because they didn’t come pick us up. The only drawback is that it is a little bit off the beaten path and Galway is not a city you want to drive in as a beginner. Cabs are easy to catch and not too expensive, but next time I might pick somewhere in Eyre Square like Hotel Meyrick where…
…the Galway Oyster Festival originated and is largely held! The Galway Oyster Festival is a huge celebration of Galway’s rich annual oyster harvest. The first night we attended a great seafood dine-around followed by a huge banquet with a super fun band and an unlimited supply of oysters and beer. They also held an International oyster shelling/eating competition, which was fun to watch. We met a really neat Scottish family who own an oyster farm and who had a son competition in the competition. We ended our celebration jamming/dancing to the Cranberries with them. Joel and I also did a little two-stepping and we had several people compliment us on our “waltzing.” I got a kick out of that.
We continued the Oyster Festivities the next day with the parade in Eyre Square. Rory came and met us again and then showed us the sites of Galway including Quay Street (pronounced “Key Street” – that was really hard for me to wrap my mind around), Shop Street, the Spanish Arch, the alleged original claddagh ring shop (where Joel bought me my own ring), the Galway Cathedral and much more. For me, Galway was a surprisingly awesome city. It is definitely an Ireland must. The walk through the town and then down by the river was the best walk I’ve been on since I lived in DC. It was completely relaxing, the weather was perfect, I had great company and exploring a new city. It was awesome.
Ireland is by no means known for their food. It’s a very meat and potatoes kind of place. But, what I didn’t expect was the super fresh and delicious seafood. It was awesome in these little coastal towns. Galway Restaurants and Pubs we got to experience:
- Vina Mara – we went here for our dine-around and had delicious fish and wine.
- Tig Neachtain or Naughton’s Pub – this one came highly recommended by Liam for live music.
- The Quays – they are half restaurant/pub and half legit music venue so there are some great bands that come here. We saw a very interesting one while we were there.
- McDonagh’s – they are rumored to have the best fish and chips in Ireland so of course Joel had to try (even though we had just eaten like 2 hours earlier). And, they were admittedly quite yummy
- The King’s Head – a really neat pub with great wood accents.