Tuesday was the two-week mark for me in Galway. It’s hard to believe that my time is flying so fast, but I am finding that I am out and about as much as possible. In my two weeks, I have discovered there are plenty of outings that are sure to be brilliant craic! That means ‘fun’ in Irish Gaelic, for those who aren’t familiar with Irish lingo.
5. Walk to Salt Hill
Don’t let anyone discourage you, Salt Hill is a must see! It’s a slightly longer walk compared to the top of Shop Street to the Spanish Arch, but it’s absolutely worth your time. Salt Hill is a small village outside of Galway’s city center and on the coast that offers a breathtaking view of Galway Bay. People frequently walk this area right on the shore, known as the Salt Hill Prom. Walkers, bikers, and carefree dogs fill the walkway. You can nod at any of the amiable strangers, and feel like you’ve known them all your life. Just be sure to wear a good pair of walking shoes, preferably sneakers. I guarantee this small stretch up the coast is the best spot for pictures of the Bay.
4. Explore Shop Street
In any city, there’s always that special spot for buying the city’s best wares. In Galway, that place is irrevocably Shop Street. Here is a place where everything can be found. You can find jewelry, bread, beer, cell phones, antiques, food, music, history, chocolate, street performers, gelato, fish, cheese, cameras, donuts, boots, food, coffee, makeup, and food.
It is without a doubt my favorite place in Galway. I can walk up and down this street and always discover something new, something that demands a spot in my memory of this darling city.
3. Experience the Farmer’s Market
On Saturday mornings, in front of Saint Nicholas’ Cathedral, the Farmer’s Marker erupts. Suddenly that normally quiet alley is filled to its brim with vendors, customers, and locals. Booths sell anything and everything from Claddagh rings to breakfast or dessert-style crepes. The actual farmer’s market is down on the corner, at the end of the alley. Then to the right of the corner, there are MORE vendors! There’s handmade soap, toys, fresh fish and a few other odds and ends. Whatever you do, if you decide to go, make sure that you get a donut from the man near the farmer’s market. Forget Krispy Kreme and forget Dunkin Donuts, these are the best donuts you will ever have and will ever taste in your whole life. You can get cocoa, cinnamon, or sugar on top. I get cocoa because come on, who doesn’t want cocoa powder on the single best thing you will ever put in your mouth on Saturday morning?
2. Enjoy a Full Irish Breakfast
Before I left home, I decided I was going to have myself a full Irish breakfast. For those that don’t know, a full Irish breakfast includes, toast, beans, an egg, potatoes, bacon, sausage, black and white pudding, as well as a tomato.
Now when you behold this glorious sight, you must remember there is a system to eating everything on your plate. The beans provided, are eaten as a topping for your toast. The puddings are pecked at throughout the meal. The egg and potatoes are appreciatively consumed at a leisurely pace. The sausage is regarded with a familiar fondness and sliced into bits, also eaten gradually. The tomato is like a sherbet between courses, provided to cleanse the palate, at the end. The meal itself can be enjoyed in the morning, or as a brunch. The food is to be observed with a keen eye and a hearty stomach. When appreciating this traditional meal, one of the best establishments to do so is Griffin’s. Griffin’s is located on Shop Street. Griffin’s is a quaint bakery/diner-like place. Downstairs is the bakery, which always has a fine display of pastries and the like, while upstairs is a quaint room, with tables and booths. The perfect venue for enjoying the quintessential Irish meal.
1. Revel in an Authentic Secondhand Bookshop
One of the best things about Shop Street is that it is home to at least three bookshops. I have only been in one, but I am solidly convinced it is by far the best. Charlie Byrne’s Bookshop is this lovely home to books, tucked away on this quiet street to the left, off of Shop Street. As soon as you walk in the door, you immediately feel cozy. You can pluck any book off the shelf, hunker down, and read for hours on end. I go in, certain I will only be 20 minutes, and leave an hour later. Browsing the shelves never gets boring, only more fascinating. They have a wide array of subjects and authors, so finding something that peaks your interest is never a struggle. Trust me, just walk through the door and experience the magic.