The drive to Galway city is about forty-five minutes from the Cliffs of Moher. We arrived in the city center at about 3pm, and sat in traffic for a bit before finding a car park (paid parking lot) to park our Nissan Micra–which I should mention we named Shannon :).
Galway is a bit smaller feeling than Dublin but larger than Kilkenny. It lays all the way on the west coast, and meets the edge of the water.
We walked around the streets for three hours, until eventually we couldn’t find our way back to the car park. At that point we stopped two guys and tried to describe the surroundings of the area to which we were trying to go. They obliged to walk us the fifteen minutes all the way back. This is how nice the people are! In NYC, that would never happen unless the guy thought you were going to give him your number in the end.
After the hunt was over, we grabbed some dinner where we met a table of guys who offered to take us to a pub next door. Sure! Why not? One of them was a teacher of Irish dance (think of river dance), and he taught me some sweet moves. I imagine we looked like idiots in the middle of the pub, but I welcomed the shenanigans. I river danced in Ireland!
clearly this is not me
The next day, we had about an hour’s drive to County Mayo, where Ashford Castle is located. The trip we planned included a night’s stay at the castle which we thought was an insane opportunity. We were right.
entrance to Ashford Castle
It turns out Ashford Castle is now a five star hotel, where people like Brad Pitt and Robin Williams have stayed at (they had pictures lining one of the halls). It was shocking, relatively speaking coming from the B&B’s, aka nice people’s homes, we stayed at along the way. Our room had a fireplace and a surreal view of the bakc of castle’s estate through our two huge curtained windows.
the view from our room in Ashford Castle
We found out there were horse stables nearby and quickly signed up. The result? Amanda and I rode white horses through the woods of the castle grounds. It was one of those things where you have to stop and tell yourself to take every second in like it matters, don’t let it just pass by. The woods were old and lush green, and hidden inside were old towers that used to be lookouts for guardians of the castle centuries ago. We rode for an hour and a half. My thighs were sore for the next two days.
on horseback at Ashford Castle
We opted to dine in the five star restaurant in the castle that night just based on the fact that we’ll probably never have that option again. We chose the price fixe menu which was four courses, and we were absolutely stuffed at the end. I think my less than stellar opinion of the meal is biased because of a bowl of chicken consume with dumplings. It was straight up broth, with two small plain dumplings floating in it. Almost like a boring wonton soup, only it cost probably about $15 for the bowl. Eh? For dinner I had seared cod, which had a saffron and mussel broth around it on top of wilted spinach. I cleaned that plate. I do have to say that the dessert was the best part. I got a chocolate lovers plate with four different kinds of chocolate desserts that came with a mango sorbet that was rockin. This was our best meal in Ireland. Thank God, we finally had a full meal that tasted good.
Unfortunately, our visit to the castle was only for one night, and the morning brought us our longest drive on the trip: straight across Ireland back to Dublin on the east coast. The drive took about three and a half hours. Due to a lot of rain the day before, the small roads in the country actually flooded completely and we had to re-route multiple times. Eventually we just ended up driving through the water! It was madness. Like driving through small lakes. We weren’t alone either, there were stranded cars all over the roads not knowing what to do, and we stopped to talk to people to ask advice. Their reactions were “You’re from New York? What in the hell are you doing in this town?!”. Our gps put us here, that’s how.
approaching the floods
we followed the locals through the floods
After a crazy drive through the water, we finally hit the highway for the rest of the way and made it back to Dublin for our last night. Having seen Dublin the first day, we opted to walk around for only a little and then catch a movie to relax after such a hectic drive. The next day found us back at Dublin airport and on a plane back to NYC.
The plane was full of Irish people about to start their vacation in New York. Good luck driving on our side of the road guys, and enjoy the strong coffee :).