Smitwick, Sorrey and Keys
Trip Start Jan 25, 2010
18Trip End Jun 09, 2010
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Where I stayed
So it's our second day in Ireland and it was a very relaxed day. Ashley and I woke up at a decent hour (although it took quite a bit of prodding, poking and pushing on Ashley's part to get me off of the couch) and decided to explore the town while Erin and her roommates were in class. We walked Shop Street again and Ashley bought herself and Irish sweater which again, was something on her list. I think maybe tomorrow I'll upload the list of things that we want to do while in Europe so you understand what I am talking about and I'll gradually cross them out as we complete them. It'll make me feel accomplished.
Anyway, we ended up wandering toward a church and I believe it to be St. Nicholas' Church, which was dedicated to St. Nicholas, the patron saint of seafarers. We didn't go in as mass was happening at the time (I don't know why Mass is on a Wednesday, but it is). We then kept randomly walking, in an attempt to get lost. I found this to be quite enjoyable and I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone. Get a map of the city, bring some money just in case and get yourself lost. When you are ready to go back, try to navigate on your own, ask the locals for help with your map and if need be, hail a cab to bring you to a familiar location. In our wanderings, we found Erin's University, the National University of Galway or Ollscoil na h…ireann, Gaillimh or O… Gaillimh in Gaelic. The university was very pretty-- very aged and covered in vines. We walked the campus and sat down in front of the library and we watched people. We played a game for a bit trying to guess who was American and who was Irish and sometimes we were successful.
After we wandered back toward Shop to get some grub at a Creperie that we found. We ended up only getting hot chocolate but it was the best damn hot chocolate I have ever had. Europeans know how to make hot chocolate. None of that powdered sugar and water. It was like melted hot chocolate with some spice and marshmellows. It was delicious. The waiter was really nice and we got to eat outside and listen to a man sing opera in the street in front of a shop. It was both a surreal and pleasant experience. Speaking of street performers, they are everywhere and they are generally good. I have seen the lute, opera singing, guitars and drums.
Fast forward to the end of the night. We ended up going to one of Erin's favorite pubs, called the Quays (pronounced like "keys" from my understanding). My goal after being here for a few days is to learn the Gaelic language in order to understand the phonics of everything since I cannot wrap my English speaking brain around how Q-U-A-Y-S sounds like keys. But thats why I found it so interesting. It's almost like a new alphabet, Anyway, the pub was awesome, in my opinion. I guess its a tad bit touristy from what I was told (its in most of the guidebooks) but I recommend it completely. Anyway, everyone around us was Irish so it couldn't be that touristy, although a group of Irishmen seemed offended by the abundance of Americans and decided to leave mid-way through their drinks. It was somewhat awkward since they were right next to us (and they had like a 10 euro drink).
But back to the pub. There were three or four different levels and bars in the joint but it wasn't obnoxiously huge. The decor alone was reason enough to enter the pub. After doing some research I learned that this place has imported materials from a French medieval church-- stained glass, carved wood, Gothic arches and some of the seating were pews. It has a lot of character and charm to it that you don't see a lot. From anywhere in the pub, you could see the other levels so they weren't walled off and there were several bars throughout the pub so the lines were not bad. There was live music from a band that never once, to my knowledge, told us who they were. But they were fantastic. They played mostly covers, but it was such a wide range that anyone could enjoy it. They played The Beatles, Johnny Cash, the White Stripes, Weezer, REM, Modest Mouse, Kings of Leon, etc. I wish I knew who they were so I could look them up but before I knew it, they were gone. However, live music frequents Quays, so, chances are, you may be able to find a good band here if you ever do decide to come to Galway (which I highly recommend).
The Quays Pub in Galway, Ireland (not my picture-- pulled it from Google).
Guinness has grown on Ashley considerably-- she loves it. I figured that was worth mentioning as before this she hadn't really had much beer. I had a great time at this pub tonight. The atmosphere, the music, the people-- it all seemed authentic. While it may have been a tourist hotspot, I think it was Irish at heart. And like I said, most of the people I bumped into were Irish. I had trouble finding other Americans. Overall-- great time. Erin lost her voice, Ashley moved her tolerance up and I tried new beer. Life is good.
Tomorrow, Ashley and I are off to the Cliffs of Moher at 10 AM and we will be exploring other places as well. I'm pretty stoked about it since I have been planning my trip to Ireland for quite some time now and these cliffs have been at the top of my list for a while. Being here, I realize how unrealistic my expectations were about what I could do and see, but I'm happy with the time that I am spending here. I'm spending money, yeah, but its for something that I really want and I know that I won't regret so it's worth it. I'm happy to do anything and everything that I can and I know that I will be back so I'll get to all of the other places next time. So far it has been an incredible experience and I'm only 2 days in.
Things I learned today:
1. While at the Quays, Erin and Ashley got into a discussion with American girls and an Irish girl in the bathroom. The American girls were trying to explain how much that they had had to the Irish girl and in the process there was accidental insulting and misunderstanding about how much the girls had actually had. There are conversion issues and for the most part, Americans don't understand the metric system and vice versa with the Irish. The Irish girl was confused about a handle and a fifth, and the Americans seemed to be as well. So, I looked it up later. For everyone's knowledge in the future:
1.75l: half gallon (aka handle)
1.5l: magnum-- I have never heard this before
750ml: a fifth (a fifth of a gallon which is 128 fl oz., so roughly 25 fl. oz., or 750 mL)
375ml: pint (you should know what a pint glass looks like I'm assuming?)
200 ml: half pint
100 ml: shorty
50 ml: mini (airplane bottles)
So two pints is a fifth and a handle is more than two fifths, etc. Just thought it was interesting info.
2. Ireland is green because its ALWAYS wet-- there's mold on the buildings and the roads, etc. but it fits Ireland perfectly. It's extremely humid that when we walk outside, the ground is always wet like it just rained, even though it didn't. Drying clothes-- impossible. Girls, drying your hair--also difficult.
3. This is more Irish slang for those of you who enjoyed it in the last blog.
- When Irish people are talking about time, they use the phrase half ____(#)____ when describing a __:30. So, for example, if the pub closes at 2:30, it's half 2. Not half to 2, half 2. So if someone tells you a time and says its half 7, it means 7:30.
- Soccer, at least in Galway, is referred to as soccer. In Ireland, they have Gaelic football, which was before both soccer, and obviously, football. I have never seen it, but Erin described it to me and it sounds amusing. It's like the lovechild of soccer and rugby. It's somewhat confusing but sounds entertaining. An Irish guy explained this to me last night when I mentioned soccer as football and he corrected me-- good to know as I assumed it was the same as in the rest of the world.
- This isn't slang as much as information. Erin informed me today that she noticed that most people if they bump into eachother, or are in each other's way, they say Sorry, not excuse me. It seems awkward to say "excuse me", I guess. Now, I had to maneuver my way around people several times and they in fact did say sorry when I tried to brush past them. Sorry is pronounced more like sore-ee, with a "W" sound hidden in there somewhere.
- Quid: kind of self-explanatory, but a unit of money. 50 euro can mean 50 quid.
4. Ashley enjoys Guinness.
5. You generally don't tip the bartenders as it seems offensive to them as it insinuates that they are lower than you. I didn't know this and I don't know if this is true everywhere, but I tipped a bartender the other night and he looked baffled and tried to give me my change. Whoops.
6. Smithwick's Ale is pronounced "Smitwick". You generally remove the "s" and "h". I sounded like an idiot to the guy at the bar when I said smith-wick. Fail me.
7. Random, but have you ever seen churches with red doors and wondered why? Generally, these doors are found in Episcopalian Churches and the red color represents the blood of Christ, which is the entry into salvation. They also remind churchgoers of the blood of the martyrs, who were the seeds of the church.