When we left for Dublin to head to Galway it was quite an early morning. We boarded a train at 7 am and traveled two hours to the western coast of the country. While I was sad to leave Dublin as the people, pub culture and places were so much fun, I was excited to be heading to a new destination. Galway was the city I was most excited to visit on the trip, as the pictures I had seen made it look so gorgeous. When we arrived, we dropped our luggage of at the B&B and then headed into town for a quick lunch. As soon as we arrived in the town, it finally hit me that I was in Ireland. This was the Ireland that you dream of. The shops on the main street are painted bright colors, there are musicians and magicians out all during the day performing and singing Irish and American music. Galway is right on the sea so there are all these cute waterways and bridges that are reminiscent of my trip to Holland. Galway is the perfect mixture between tourist and authentic. There are shops where you can buy sweatshirt, t-shirts, mugs and all of the other classic souvenirs, but there are also stores selling authentic Irish sweaters, hats and jackets. We knew we would be back to the center the next day so after lunch we walked back to the B&B and took a two-hour bus ride to the Cliffs of Moher.
The bus ride took us through the Burren, which is in the countryside where you can see farms and cute cottages for miles. As the bus ascended up the hill to reach the Cliffs, we had this awesome view of the whole countryside, but I think everyone was a little bus sick and just wanted to get off of the bus and onto the Cliffs.
When we got off of the bus it was about a five-minute walk to the paths that would take you along the Cliffs. Of course it started misting and then pouring while we were on the Cliffs, but what is some Irish beauty without some Irish rain. A lot of people took a few pictures, but didn’t want to stand out in the rain so they went back down to lower land for the majority of the time, but this was the one place I wanted to visit while we were there so I trekked through the rain to capture the scenery. At one point I even fell down a muddy hill when I tried to switch paths and got mud all over my jacket, butt and hands, but cest la vie I guess. I walked with my friend Steph most of the time and we just took pictures and were in sheer awe of the magnificence of the Cliffs. We hiked up both the northern and southern paths and headed back about 20 minutes before our scheduled meeting time to have enough time to visit the gift store. Luckily the fog only began to set in as we descended, so after buying some postcards we said goodbye to the Cliffs and then began the bus ride back to town. I’m so glad I asked for the Cliffs to be put on the itinerary, as it was not originally on it. The Cliffs are without a doubt one of, if not the most, beautiful place I have ever visited in my life. They are a combination of fear and amazement, and I only wish the weather was a little nicer, but even that didn’t ruin my time.
From the Cliffs we stopped to change out of our wet clothes and then headed off to Salthill, a town just outside of Galway to see Trad on the Prom. This was a traditional Irish step dancing and musical performance and was another one of my favorite activities. Trad means traditional and prom means promenade and the name comes from when people use to perform traditional Irish dancing out in the promenade during the days. The dancers in the show have collectively earned 80 gold medals and most of them are the top Irish step dancers in the world. One dancer has earned the title of national champion a crazy six times. The singing and dancing was incredible and I think I was smiling and clapping the entire two hours. On top of the amazing performance, we had front row seats, which made the experience that much better. After the show we got to talk to and take a group picture with the dancers. Some random old people came over to take pictures of us with the dancers, which was a little weird, but we were so giddy to be in the presence of these incredible dancers that we kind of relished in our 10 seconds of fame. The dancers were so incredibly nice and talked to us about the show. I’m hoping that they will tour in the states sometime soon because I would be there in a heartbeat.
After Trad on the Prom the group went out to a pub called The Skeff for drinks and then called it a night as we had all been up since around 5 am. Even though it was an incredibly busy day, it was so much fun and encompassed some of my favorite activities of the trip thus far. Now that I feel like I’m in Ireland I realized why I didn’t feel it sooner. It is so easy to feel a part of this country and I know that is why I am enjoying this trip so much. Whether it is bad weather or being barely able to function after only five hours of sleep, nothing is stopping me from making the most of every day.
All photography by Emily Houston