Cliffs of Moher and The King's Head
Last weekend was our first weekend trip as a group and we went to Galway. After lugging duffle bags through the city to city center at 9 in the morning, we took a 2 hour bus ride and first arrived at the Cliffs of Moher. I'd always heard about the cliffs and I knew what they were and maybe I had seen pictures, but I really had no idea what to expect. But even though I had no ideas, it still wasn't quite what I expected. When we arrived we were lucky enough to be there when it was fairly sunny (although it began to rain as soon as we left - welcome to Ireland). It was crazy windy as we walked along the cliffs and even windier when we got to the top where there was a small castle tower. The cliffs are absolutely gorgeous and the view from the highest point was amazing since we were able to see the cliffs all around us. A stone wall was set up around the cliffs to prevent people from falling off which was a great idea but unfortunately it prevented us from getting too close to the actual cliffs and it was hard to get a sense of just how vast and amazing they really are. I wanted to get up close and personal with these cliffs but I had to remain pretty far away. This was a bit of a disappointment, but the cliffs were breathtaking nonetheless.
After the Cliffs of Moher we continued our ride along to the hotel we were staying at. I am absolutely in LOVE with the Irish countryside. It is completely picturesque and exactly how I pictured the small towns of Ireland. There are rolling hills and farms, sheep and cows and horses laying about, cozy cottages, and winding dirt roads. It was a refreshing change of scenery from the Dirty Dub and it just made me want to wear a wool sweater and milk a cow and have a big bowl of stew and a pint of beer. Along the way we stopped along the ocean for a photo op. At first we couldn't understand why we were pulling over along a giant bunch of rocks - it was cold and windy and we were tired from traveling all day. But once we got out and actually saw where we were, we were actually pleasantly surprised at the view. From the road it didn't look like we were up very high; but once we walked to the edge of the rocks, we could see that we were on a small cliff right on the ocean. Although it was no Cliffs of Moher, I still got to go to the edge of my mini-cliff.
Getting to the hotel (finally) was such a relaxing relief after a long day of being on the bus. The girls (all 35 of us) hurried to our rooms to get ready for dinner and a night of exploring Galway. Because there were so many of us, we literally took up an entire hallway in the hotel. Can you imagine 35 college girls staying in one hotel and trying to get ready to go out? It was glorious madness. We were all bouncing around from room to room borrowing shoes, straighteners, tops, and getting advice on our outfits. Because we weren't sure what to expect on our trip to Galway, not many people brought a lot of going out attire so we had quite a bit of mixing and matching and borrowing. There are also 2 guys on our trip. Two. Poor guys. They just went straight to their room, locked the door, and began drinking during the whole ordeal which I think was probably a good idea. But even worse than 35 girls getting ready together is trying to get 35 girls to actually leave. We had all decided that we wanted to go out together to the same bar (the entire group) and explore the city as a whole. FINALLY we all got into a taxi and ended up in the center of Galway.
The center of Galway is AWESOME. It has all the aspects of Temple Bar in Dublin without the sketchy people or annoying tourists. It's basically a bunch of cobblestone streets lined with pubs, bars, small clubs, restaurants, and stores. It sounds touristy but a lot of the places are known for their traditional Irish food or music and are a famous spot in Ireland.
We finally all ended up at a place called The King's Head because we heard they had good music. The pub itself was like none I've ever been in. It had three floors, a stage, and a private room for parties. It sounds like a night club but it had the casual atmosphere and sitting room of a pub. At first it was kind of awkward being there because there were so many of us and we were clearly American and the band hadn't arrived yet. Because I'd been diagnosed with tonsillitis a few days before (that was fun) and was on antibiotics, unlike everyone else I was not drinking. I don't mind not drinking at all but it is hard to be sitting at a table when everyone around you is casually drinking beer or wine. (But on a side note: everyone else spent about 40 euro that night and I didn't spend a penny!) That night at the bar was also Captain Morgan night so there were pirates running around the bar passing out free pirate hats and bracelets and shots. Finally the band started to set up and we overheard someone say that this was one of the best bands around Galway and they have a serious following. HOLY SHIT WAS THAT AN UNDERSTATEMENT. I kid you not, from the moment the band got on stage at 10 to when they closed at 2, I was on my feet and jumping up and down and dancing (on tables and chairs...) and absolutely LOVING LIFE. Not only did they cover classic rock like AC/DC and Kiss, but they also covered Blink-182, Sum 41, Third Eye Blind, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Pink, and basically every classic song that everyone loves and knows all the words to. And every song had its own rock twist to it; can you imagine Lady Gaga sung as a rock song? But the best part was that the lead singer was the coolest chick ever! The band (Lunar Playground) had a female lead singer and a male guitarist, bassist, and drummer. I was in a band in high school and we had the exact same setup. Seeing them up there covering some of my favorite songs of all time and having the best time made me miss my band but it also made me see what we could have done! And what I still have time to do - she was such an inspiration. I have to say the King's Head was my favorite night so far in Dublin and I was completely sober for the whole thing so I got to enjoy it to its fullest. (And after the show I got to meet the band!)
After the bar closed we walked around downtown Galway and got food and talked to some of the younger locals. Everyone kept saying how Galway is so much better than Dublin (starting to believe it...). We had to be up for a day of sight-seeing and traveling at 8am the next day. A responsible person would have been back at the hotel by midnight to get a good night's sleep - especially when a responsible person had tonsillitis. But you're only in Galway once! I got home at 5am...and it was totally worth it.