I'm writing this post from a small cafe adjacent to one of the many winding, cobblestone streets of Galway that I found after a couple hours of wandering the city and many random lefts and rights. The password to their wifi was Ilovethisplace... subliminal messaging??
Although I am unable to stay to witness the famous sunset over the bay as it disappears below the Atlantic's waves, a beautiful morning sunrise was picturesque enough.
Despite being a city of about 75,000 people, the water's edge remains quiet and peaceful. Quiet enough that the lapping of waves on the thick, stone piers and creaks of the moored wooden boats is still audible when you sit along the edge. True to form, these boats weren't high class yachts being taken out for the casual fishing trip. Layers and layers of paint were caked on to the hulls from too many years spent in the salt water, and weathered ropes ran up the top mast and through the pulleys.
Ireland is now two-for-two with its track record of cities that still feel small despite their labyrinth of shop-laden streets and still feel old and steeped in centuries of history. The heart of Galway is at Williams Street; a cobblestone way that splits and forks it's way north until it turns into High Street which leads to the bay.
I'm sure I looked the total tourist part as I looked back and forth with every step trying to take in the myriad of shops, vendors, and musicians that lined both sides of the street. I looked to the left: Galway Tattoo, All Things Wool, and a vendor selling hand carved wooden utensils. I looked to the right: The Kings Head Pub, the red bannered front of the Tig Coili Pub, and more wool shops. Back to the left: a crowd of people clapping along to a live banjo player, MORE wool shops (there is a theme going on here...), and a massive banner spanning the street that says "Good Luck Galway Hurlers" in honor of the nation hurling finals. Back to the right: A McDonalds ... seriously??? A McDonalds!? One of these things is not like the other...
It was poor planning on my part to come visit a city in hopes of experiencing the culture at its peak on a Sunday in a very Catholic nation... but the day of rest didn't diminish the trip in the least. Ten out of ten, would come here again, and I hope the next trip will include a sunset over the bay.