Tuesday, September 20, 2011

what kind of sheep are they? killer sheep. they lie in wait.


Yes, you read that right! This weekend, Lynda and I ventured north to the wide world of Galway and its neighboring towns/counties. We only really planned the buses and the hostel, but otherwise had tons of free time.

After 5 hours on a bus and almost wanting to kill ourselves, we arrived in Galway where the weather is more bipolar than in Cork. It rained, not misted, rained off and on all evening on Friday which was not the best for exploring the city. We did make the most of it.

First of all, we walked through Eyre Square (pronounced: Air Square), the city centre. It's a lovely park in the heart of everything. At first, we had no idea where to go for anything. Not even the hostel. We stopped at a tourist booth and picked up maps and brochures. Instead of heading to the hostel right away, Lynda and I wanted to eat and explore first.

Exploring included a great deal of places, most of which being shops. However, we did come across some things that were incredibly amazing. The first of these was completely by accident. We were attempting to find a theatre that was on the tourist map and stumbled on the T. Dillon & Son shop - home of the original Claddagh ring! Inside was the little jeweler's shop and they had a small Claddagh museum in the back, including casts of Claddagh rings and the smallest Claddagh in the world! It was super cool and we found it completely by accident.

Despite saying we didn't want to go, Lynda and I went to the Galway City Museum, mostly because it was free, but also it's really rude to use the bathrooms and not actually attend the museum. We wandered for a bit in there until the museum closed when we ran into some creeps thinking we needed someone to escort us back to the States.
1. I don't need an escort.
2. What part of 'we aren't leaving until December' don't you understand?
3. I don't need an escort.

It was difficult avoiding them for a second because we found another historical place in Galway that they happened to be sitting on: the Spanish Arc! It's part of the original walls of Galway. How cool is that? Another awesome ruin we ended up finding was the Hall of the Red Earl. On the map, it was placed with the Druid Theatre so we thought it was just another building. Turns out, it was ruins they found when they were attempting to build in Galway. Instead of destroying it, they excavated it and built around it. They have a mini-museum (which we unfortunately couldn't see), but the guy there told us about the site. It used to be the centre of town where the Red Earl, an Anglo-Norman, was stationed. In it, there is what you'd think was a cross, but it was just where later people put their anvil! Very interesting.

Lynda at the Druid Theatre
Literally across the street from the Hall of the Red Earl was the Druid Theatre. Technically it was closed yet the guy at the door let us in to explore a bit. Oh my god, do I love found theatre spaces. It used to be an old warehouse back in the day and it was recycled as a theatre space. I got this great feeling from inside and I really wish we could have seen a show there. It was awesome.

We then wound up at the Church of St. Nicholas. It's one of the only cathedrals that still functions as a church. It was beautiful inside. They had mini-tour pamphlets and I definitely took pictures of nearly everything in the pamphlet. Whatever. I do what I want. While we were there, a television team was there setting up for a scene. They were filming for a Gaelic TV show called "The Tribes" (I think) and it's based on the original people of Galway. We told the guy we were talking to that we'd watch it, but he said that it wouldn't be on until January and it'd be in Gaelic. But hey, isn't that what English subtitles are for?

We exited the church to its adjacent cemetery only to be approached by a very drunk Irishman who told us a story about something. I was more intent on getting the hell away from him. At the end of our little "chat" (if you could call it that) he asked us if we wanted a picture with an authentic Irish person. Let's just say I nearly pissed myself because I was holding in that much laughter. If only he knew.

Well, after that excursion, Lynda and I thought it'd be best to go to the hostel. This hostel was amazing! The desk clerks were great and the rooms were awesome. We were luckily in an all girls dorm and the room wasn't full. It was great. On top of that, each bed had its own personal light for reading and such! How great is that?!

Eventually, we went back out to get dinner and go to a pub. Unfortunately, the pub we went to was filled with Americans. Let me be the first to tell you: Americans suck. We suck so hard. I try to spend as little of my time with large groups of Americans. We're terrible. I see other groups of Americans and cringe. For example, I was bumped into by two American girls at TESCO (the grocery store) and wept inwardly. First of all, we're fucking everywhere. Secondly, we are so obvious. It hurts me every time I see or hear Americans who don't try at all to assimilate to the culture they're in. Especially those on vacation. Oy.

Slept well in the hostel and woke up to get ready for our bus tour! We were originally planning on doing the Cliffs of Moher tour, but the Conamara & Cong tour sounded way more interesting. So, we boarded a bus at 10am to tour through Co. Galway and Co. Mayo.

I would first like to say our bus driver, Mike O'Malley, was amazing. Hilarious and a great driver, particularly maneuvering the terrible turns in the tour. What a champ.

Yes, I am indeed humping this friary.
Our first stop was at the Ross Errilly Friary, a great "ruined" friary. It's a great one because all it's missing are the roof, the floor, and the furniture. It was AWESOME. Lynda and I went nuts with pictures in the 10 minutes off the bus. It was a beautiful old friary that was attacked by the British seven times. The monks, the champs they were, hid out in the tower until the chaos subsided.

After Ross Errilly, we stopped in the town of Cong, Co. Mayo. It's a sleepy little town with only one claim to fame: John Wayne's "The Quiet Man". Now, I have never seen this movie, so Cong wasn't important to me in that way. It was this little sleeper town with a ruined friary (sensing a theme?) and a beautiful river. For those who are John Wayne fans, you'd love Cong. For those of us who aren't, you'll still like it. May love, but mostly like.

We were driving through the countryside and Mike's telling us about Conamara ponies, a horse breed that is specific to Conamara. At one point, he goes, "Oh, look! It's Joey! Hello, Joey!" He honks the bus horn and a Conamara pony comes galloping to the gate! The pony's name was Joey and we got to feed him carrots and chocolate. One of the best stops of the trip.

We continued onward through Conamara, seeing Lake Na Fooey, Lake Mask, Lake Carrib, a faerie ring (!!!), the fjord of Conamara, and a faerie fort (!!!). It was absolutely beautiful. The biggest part of the trip, however, was just up ahead.

(L): Kylemore Abbey
Kylemore Abbey! Once a castle for a family turned abbey turned boarding school that just closed in 2010, the Kylemore Abbey is a stunning sight. It sits on the lake, situated next to a mountain, has its own gardens, own Gothic Church, and the mausoleum where the first owners were buried. Beautiful grounds and interesting history.

We spent a few hours at Kylemore, touring the grounds, before we went back into the coach bus to continue the tour. We drove through Inagh Valley and eventually made it back to Galway. Once in Galway, Lynda and I boarded our bus to go back to Cork.

Lots of buses in one weekend. The bus ride back was quiet. We took the very back row for ourselves, spreading across the five seats. There was some napping involved though we swore we wouldn't. Buses are so tiring.

We made it back to Cork and I could not have been happier. I think it was mostly from sitting on buses all day, but Cork is wonderful. Love love love Cork.

Speaking of loving Cork, classes started this week! I technically haven't had any since English classes don't start until next week and my first non-English class is tomorrow. Whatever. Today was Clubs Day so I went to the Student Centre and wrote my name down on a bunch of lists for clubs I won't join. Whatever. Societies Day tomorrow is my thing. I'm so there.

Otherwise, I'm knitting a scarf.

Here's one thing they don't tell you about study abroad. Despite your awesome planned trips, the times in between when you don't have anything going on are awful. I'm so bored all the time. When I'm bored, all I know is to go shopping. This is a horrible habit. I wish I had other things to do, so I picked up knitting again. I should read more, but I'd also like to feel the fresh air. I'm really hoping that things pick up as the semester continues. I'm just so incredibly bored.

If you have any tips for me to defeat my boredom that involves little to no money spent, please tell me!

1 comment:

  1. I have usually done most of my trips alone. I always forced myself to do a lot of walking looking at any special place that a town offered. I also accepted any offers to accompany people to meals or whatever. In Ireland it's easy to talk to people so that's a great advantage. Do you have a kindle? You could download books, or find a good second hand bookstore. Sometimes I got tired of living in my own head so much especially in countries where there was no one to talk to such as Viet Nam. Keep up the weekend trips. Try to get to Belfast. Your blog is great.