Friday, April 8, 2016

Diary of a World Traveler

Galway Days 5 & 6: "That man cannot sing."

It has been a quiet but fun-filled two days in Galway since I last wrote. Blustery winds and sporadic downpours could not keep us inside in a place like this. We’ve been all over the city centre, hitting funky shops and delicious restaurants. And we are not even halfway through our list! It’s a good thing we’re not even halfway through our time here… We still have some work to do!

Yesterday, we had class until noon and then decided to get ready, go out, and get some nice lunch at one of the many restaurants and coffee shops around Galway. Originally, we had our mind set on McCambridge’s, a Mediterranean-influenced deli, sandwich bar, restaurant, and off-license wine shop. They specialize in picnic baskets and take away as well as sit down meals involving delicious items like hummus, olives, cheese, and fresh bread. But halfway there, we stopped to check the menu at a local pizza and Italian restaurant recommended to us by one of our professors. After about two minutes of looking over the pizza list, we decided to just stop in then rather than wait for another time. We were too hungry and their pizzas sounded great. The shop itself is very small and cozy, with booths on either side and chairs down the middle. The manager was our waiter, since it was only about 12:30 and the place was completely empty when we walked in. Since we would be sharing one pizza, it was difficult to choose one of their more artisan options because we have some conflicting ingredient preferences. We ended up choosing the plain old pepperoni, but it was still a great meal. We each got four slices of thin crust, crispy goodness that still had a bit of give in the middle. Delicious! We thanked the owner profusely and walked out full and happy.

After our lunch, we just wandered around to do some more browsing in places we had not been before. We popped into Treasure Chest, a big blue building with white scrolling and huge, enticing window displays. The bottom half is like an artisan Irish gift shop, with products all made exclusively in Ireland or Scotland. Diana looked at some blankets, I looked at candles and soaps and scarves (an intense form of browsing that I am a master of), and then we checked the upstairs boutique just for fun. A large, open space packed with clothes, shoes, hats, and jewelry welcomed us. The mirrored walls and crystal chandelier made the whole place sparkle. Numerous mannequins displayed the store’s best clothing and hats as they looked out the windows at Shop Street. We tried on a few hats, then went back down the stairs and said we would be back for another look around closer to our departure date. There was just so much to look at that it was almost too much to take in after just one visit!

The sun came out once we had finished in Treasure Chest, so we decided to walk around St. Nicholas church in the very center of town. Halfway around the church is a fabulous little shop called Sheridan’s Cheesemongers, which has not only cheese, but a selection of local produce, an olive and hummus bar, jarred jams and jellies (sweet and savory blends), and a fresh meat counter. The smell of cheese is obviously the dominant scent, but there was so much more in there than simply cheese. The jams were all fairly affordable, as well. I might have to go back and pick up some almond butter or other specialty. Continuing in that area, we popped into River Island, where I saw an amazing cape that was too small for me but would have gone home with me otherwise. We also spotted the world’s smallest double strap bag that we are still not sure the function of… is it supposed to be a wallet? Or is it really just the smallest purse ever? Who knows. 

The next leg of the walk was through the Latin Quarter, one of my favorite sections of me and most visitors to Galway. There is a cute little pie shop that we want to go into some other day, as well as a shop called Yes Flowers that display beautiful fresh flowers outside on the sidewalk. The inside of the store looks just as beautiful as the outside. One shop down is Tempo Antiques, a small but intriguing store full-up with fine china, silver, brass, and jewelry. There were other things as well, all sparkling in the mirrored cases and bright lights. Everywhere is a new and exciting piece—all the way up to the ceiling. I would recommend stopping by here, especially if a lovely tea cup is on the list.

Lastly for the day, we popped into Charlie Byrne’s again. Diana did not buy anything last time, so she wanted to go back and see about something. She only got one book, but we both had another look around for new or old books that might interest us. I ended up getting three printed cards: one saying I ♥ Galway, one with a tea cup design, and the last with Go Raibh Maith Agat, or Thank You in Irish. It was good to be back, even just to browse. Being surrounded by books is always a welcome experience.

We walked back to the hotel after that, tired after a lot of exploring. Dinner was great once again—the Harbour has not failed to impress yet. They had mussels, which Diana made me try. They were not horrible, but they were also not something I would order on their own. My salmon was delicious, and came with my own serving of vegetables! I got broccoli and parsnips and green beans and snap peas all to myself. It was glorious. And the lemon poppy seed cake for dessert was a welcomed change to all of the heavy chocolate offerings we’ve been getting. Yum!

This morning, we slept in past breakfast and then went outside for lunch, despite the less than favorable weather. Blustery winds do not really encourage leaving the room, but it actually wasn’t so bad outside once we got downtown amongst the buildings of Shop Street. For lunch, we stopped at Pascal, a coffee shop and café close to our hotel. They claim to be the Posh Sandwich Shop, and I would say they are right to do so. Their sandwiches were delicious, fresh, and full of flavor. I got the Posh Toastie, which had tomato, ham, onion, dill mustard, and cheese. Diana opted for the pesto, bacon, and brie sandwich with rocket and tomato. Both were wonderful and well-priced for the amount of food we got. It was a warm and filling meal for such a gloomy day, which we both appreciated. 

On the way out, I got a chai with chocolate dust to go as we continued down the street to get Diana’s ears pierced at a place called AWOL. The chai was one of the best I’ve ever had-I even liked the foam, which says something, because I cannot stand milk foam. I sipped it up quickly whilst waiting in the art-filled sitting room of the tattoo parlor. After some minutes, it was her turn to go to the back. Once that was done, we did some more quick shopping at a few places down Abbeygate Street. My favorite was a vintage place called Public Romance. They stocked a variety of new or modified clothes in the downstairs area, and a whole vintage stock upstairs. There were some outrageous pieces, but they also had a couple beautiful dresses and a lot lovely of sequined shirts. Shoulder pads notwithstanding, I would have bought some if they were priced a little better. We might be back toward the end of our trip just in case we haven’t spent all our money yet. Hah.

We walked home after our little shopping spree, worked out for a bit, and then rested before dinner. It has been a full three days here with class as well as adventuring. Today has been our first full free day, and we can’t wait to have the whole weekend to go out and see some good music, get some more great food, and do even more shopping. Stay tuned for more updates in the next few days!

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