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Archaeologists are not unlike truckers. Exploring Minnesota and Wisconsin's oddities, scenery, culture, back roads, and eateries helps keep me sane.

03 February 2011

If You Ever Have the Chance to Live in Galway...

It’s been said that Ireland is good for the soul, and Galway may be best of all. If you mention Galway to an Irish native, they always say, “That’s the best spot.” People love Galway for a reason. Things happen in Galway. The city draws in people of all ages, from all cultures, seeking a change or adventure. Time spent there allows them to both grow up and feel young again, fall in love, figure out who they are, discover their truth, let loose, and realize what they shouldn't settle for. Galway brings emotions to the surface and helps the grieving and downtrodden become strong again. It’s a bit of an escape, but not enough of one to leave reality behind. New friends and new music are discovered every day. A short holiday to Galway won’t reveal all of these things.  Spend at least a few months there.

If you make to Galway, try the following. Words, photos, and video only hint at the magic. There really are no words.

Walk the cobble streets and explore the pubs and cafes. There’s always a friendly ear or newspaper as a companion to your drink. At least one day you’ll find yourself settling in for a morning coffee and then falling off the same bar stool eight hours later.

Shop Street from the Neachtains flat.

Stroll along the River Corrib or along Galway Bay to Salt Hill. Think, meditate, let the water and the air hypnotize you.

 The River Corrib emptying into Galway Bay.

               Jumping at Salt Hill.                           Sunset along the walk to Salt Hill.

Grab some cans and a picnic lunch from the Saturday market and sit in the sun near the Spanish Arch. There’s no buzz better than a warm spring or summer day.  Try the crepes.  And the samosas.  And the curry... and then more crepes. 

The Spanish Arch on St. Patrick's Day.

Look up and to the side. There are remnants of medieval life everywhere, carved in stone. Walkways, windows, lentils, fire places. A lot of Galway’s history never left it.

Lounge around in Eyre Square. It’s where Galway’s journey begins for many people getting off the trains and buses.

A summer day at Eyre Square.

Become a regular at Tigh Neachtain. Their regulars are the best craic. Someone might be playing music in the corner. Maybe it’s Gerry. Maybe he’ll draw you a picture or write you a poem. Maybe Denis has a story (but don’t take his seat!). Find a nook. You might start to believe in ghosts after spending some time at Neachtains.

 Hanging in a nook at Neachtains.              Denis in his spot.

Mural outside of Neachtains.

Go to Taafes, The Crane, or Tig Coili’s or several others for a trad session. Anyone with an instrument is welcome to jump in.

Play music on the street or at an open mic. There’s music everywhere. You can walk the length of Shop Street, and as soon as one performer’s song starts to fade, another’s grows stronger.

Buskers and performers on Quay Street.

Friends having a laugh and earning a few quid.

Dance in the clubs. Pubs close early… midnight-ish. And then it’s all about music. Live bands at the Quays or DJs at the likes of GPO or CP's. Just dance. http://galwaynightlife.ie/

Dancing at Cuba (RIP Cuba, will you be resurrected?).

If you’re not done drinking when the clubs close, there’s always a house party. Enjoy the comradery of like-minded people, passing around guitars and having a chat. Make it to a few sunrises and stroll home amongst the lads unloading kegs for the new day’s imbibing.

Friends and flatmates in the Neactains flat.

Check out the festivals. The Galway Arts Festival, the Oyster Festival, Race Week. Every festival and every bank holiday is as big as the next. Get used to drinking, and then walking it all off.

Galway Oyster Festival.

The crowd during the Galway Arts Festival... or was it Race Week?

Get used to a slower paced life. There are more days off, things are open fewer hours. There is plenty of downtime. Socializing is part of a the culture, no matter where you’re working or studying.

Go with the flow. Galway’s flow will pick you up and carry you to where you need to be. Just let yourself go.

1 comment:

e6c1r8 said...

Notes from friends who have lived in Galway:

"Good times and fond memories for life, that's my two cents worth."

" 1 - people are super friendly and know how to have a good time every night of the week
2 - sooooo multicultural (you hear so many cool stories about other places you have never been)
3 - You get to walk along the ocean everyday if you want:)
4 - flights to anywhere in Europe for pretty cheap
5 - it is an amazing eye opening experience to live abroad"

"Absolutely life changing. A fairy tail. A place that opens its heart you, if you open your heart to it. A culture that holds no stigma of how you should be and encourages all forms of life in a positive way. Musical, cheerful, drunk, happy. You will feel all the emotions from sadness to bliss serial, love and contentment.
It changed my life that much i had to move back... "