Arriving at Galway and a tour of the Burren

Trip Start Jul 04, 2006
Trip End Jan 16, 2007

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Friday, November 10, 2006

After the past four wonderful days and five fantastic nights in Dublin City, it is time to explore the Irish countryside, and we have settled on the county of Galway on the west coast of Ireland to do this. When we first arrived in England with the intention of traveling to Ireland, we had no firm plans on whereabouts we would travel to, other than wanting to stay along the coast somewhere away from the capital cities. After spending time with my Irish friends, Dolly and Peter Peril, and Tony and Geraldine Peril and their family, they were so enthusiastic and passionate about their favorite area in and around Galway, that this firmed up to us as a plan. Afterwards, when I learned from my cousin Andrea that her research of my Mum's ancestors, the Donlon's, indicated that they had originated from the Galway region, then going there was a must!

Tuesday 7th November.
With that said we packed our bags, checked out of our hotel in Dublin and traveled into the central bus terminal to catch the bus for the 220klm, 3 hour bus ride to the city of Galway, within County Galway. The bus ride gave us a view of the Irish countryside as we traveled through various counties enroute to Galway, and we were taken by the lovely small villages, green rolling countryside and pretty farms along the way.
When we arrived it was almost 4.00pm and just beginning to get dark. There had been some heavy rain falling during the bus journey, however now it was fairly light but persistent rain. Gail and I had done something we never had done before, and never thought we would ever do, and that is travel without having booked any accommodation at the other end. As we got our bearings and located the tourist booking office it was getting onto 5.00pm and almost dark, so we booked into a backpackers hostel in the centre of town that offered a twin (two single beds) room that included breakfast and free wi-fi internet access at a very good rate. We booked two nights only to allow us to settle and unpack while we searched around town for a more suitable place to stay. The hostel in fact proved to be very quiet, clean and comfortable, and I for one enjoyed the experience of having breakfast with a room full of fellow travelers from all four points of the globe, and all chattering away excitedly about their travels and experiences.

Wednesday 8th November
After a good night's sleep and a decent breakfast, we headed off to find somewhere to stay for the four days we planned to remain in Galway after leaving the hostel. Our walk took us along the River Corrib to where it spills into Galway Bay, and we continued along the waterfront in the direction the village of Salthill, where we had been told there were plenty of hotels and B&B's. It was a lovely walk, and it didn't take us long to find plenty of places to choose from, however when we inspected a second floor room in a small B&B with a spa bath in the ensuite, and wonderful views out over Galway Bay and the three Aran islands, we were sold. It was being managed by an Australian couple who had set off from Sydney seven years ago to travel around Europe and had been here ever since, and they proved to be the most wonderful hosts. They were helpful with all our travel plans and the breakfasts were delicious and would satisfy the biggest hunger.
With that settled, we returned to the hostel and after lunch I spent the early afternoon downloading all the photos we had taken of Dublin and finishing off the travelblog entry of our time there, while Gail went off looking around the shopping district of Galway City. Afterwards I packed up my laptop and with a tourist map and camera in hand, went for a walk around the cities major sightseeing spots, and these can be seen in the photos that accompany this travelblog.
In the evening we went to dinner at a fantastic hotel that was decorated throughout with fantastic lead lighting, huge chandeliers, extensive wood paneling, and huge painted portraits and country scenes on every wall. The food and service was also excellent, so it made for a tremendously decadent evening complete with wine and cocktails, before we returned and retired to our twin bed backpacker's hostel.

Thursday 9th November
In the morning we awoke to one of those days out of the box. The sky was clear and blue, there was very little wind, and although cool, it promised to warm up to become a special day for this time of year in Ireland. Although we had planned to move our luggage to the B&B, settle down and each have a long spa bath, the words of wisdom from our yet to be Aussie hosts rang in our ears.
"Don't plan too far ahead this time of year. Get up, have a look outside at the weather and plan your day accordingly!"
So with that advice, and after another filling breakfast, we quickly packed our bags, stowed them away in the hostel's locker room, and went off to book seats on a day tour of the Cliffs of Moher, and Burren regions that we had read about in the travel brochures at the hostel. We didn't have too far to go as the bus company sold tickets and collected passengers from right outside the hostel we had been staying at.
It was a seven plus hour tour and took us through some amazing country through County Galway and County Clare, and we visited some sites that need to be seen to be believed, so I will leave that to some notes that are included along with the photos.
On our return to Galway we collected our luggage from the hostel, and caught a taxi for the short journey out to the B&B at Salthill where we were booked to stay the next four nights. Of course the first order of the day was a long soak for both of us, followed by a cold Belgium beer, takeaway Chinese, and a bottle of Australian shiraz (what else would you expect in Ireland!) and an early bed for both of us.
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