Sunday, June 21, 2009

Galway, Ireland

(Posted from Paris)

Our journey to Galway started with the four of us sprinting to our terminal in Munich. The tram to the airport took longer than expected, and we ended up running through the airport and boarding our plane about three minutes after it was supposed to be done boarding. What matters is that we made it on, even though we were taking off our jackets and reapplying deodorant as the plane took off.

It was a two and a half hour flight to Belfast, which is in Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland is actually an entire different territory than Ireland, and the people there really want you to know it. They’re part of the U.K., so that means we used British pounds to pay for things while we were there.

In Belfast, we had about an hour until the next bus left, so we decided to eat out and have some good ol’ fish and chips. We went to a place that looked, from the outside, like a hole in the wall, but on the inside looked like Panera Bread. The fish and chips was delicious, though.

We then took the bus from Belfast to Dublin, and had about a 45-minute stay in Dublin.  Didn’t really see anything spectacular there…but we went back after Galway. That’ll be another post. I will tell you, though, that we found a great internet café in the train station. J

Then we went from Dublin to Galway, our final stop. 

(Oh, I should explain why we took the way we did to get to Galway.  The cheapest trip to Ireland from Munich was to Belfast. There are no trains from Belfast to anywhere else besides the capital, Dublin, because Northern Ireland and Ireland are two different territories. So what we had to do was go to Dublin from Belfast, and then from Dublin to Galway.  About seven hours in all. Ugh.)

Galway is a nice college town. Downtown was pretty crowded when we arrived in the afternoon, and after we put our stuff in our hotel, we decided to go out and see what we could see. Well, Saturday night in any college town is usually pretty crazy, but it was especially crazy in Galway. The bars were packed full with people, as well as the outdoor seating areas outside of them and the streets all the way across to the other sides. Each bar was like this, filled with people from ages younger to far older than me, all pleasantly shloshed and ready to party. And boy, was it loud!


What I really liked, though, was the fact that there was a different street performer on each block.


I tried my first Guinness.  I still couldn't finish it. Look at the unsure expression on my face. 

The next day we took the bus to the coast to see the cliffs of Moher. The ride was wonderful. I love the stone fences. 


These are quite famous cliffs that you’ve probably seen before. The sight was just wonderful. It was here that I had the greatest longing to be a kite, or something else with wings. To just fly among these gorgeous cliffs, and the fields and the extremely happy cows. I wish that these pictures showed more of the glory of this area. Beautiful.




Could. Not. Help it. (sorry mom)

A cute old person AND a street musician.  Two birds, one stone. 

These are the flowers I picked for you, Christie. 

Two cute old men.


What better place than here to fly my kite?

When we got back, we walked back to the hotel to freshen up. Somehow I took a wrong turn (actually, I know how it happened; I saw an intriguing alley with stands set up and decided that it would be beneficial to me to go take a look) and found a nice little marketplace set up.  There were people selling original paintings, jewelry, and wooden things like candlesticks and chessboards—all along this one little alley way. What caught my eye, of course, was a donut stand. It was run by a man and his dog: I think his name was Spanky. (The dog, not the man.) The man fried up the dough and then dipped it into sugar, and gave one to me for 70c. I took a bite.

Spanky.

Now, before I say this next statement, let me tell you that I am a very loyal Krispy Kreme fan. I’ve eaten more than my bodyweight in those scrumptious donuts, given two speeches and one book report on their history (ask me about it sometime), and used to own a collection of merchandise. I love Krispy Kremes.

But this donut may have been better.

I cringe just saying that.

It was warm, crispy on the outside, soft and fluffy and creamy on the inside (ooh! It was an actual Crispy Cream!), and perfectly sweet. It changed my life.

Well, not really, but it was indescribably good.

Notice the happiness and the terror in my eyes. 

(How have I said more about this donut than I have about the cliffs of Moher?)

That night we went out again. It was Sunday night, and there were still people out drinking. It was considerably quieter, though. And this time, most of the bars had traditional Irish music playing, which was fun.

I have no idea what automatic bollards are. 

Monday morning, I woke up before the rest of the guys. They stayed up a bit later than I did the night before, so I thought I’d let them sleep.  I took a shower, got dressed, and decided to walk around the town. In the morning it is so peaceful in that city. I passed people walking to work or just going on a stroll—some drinking coffee or eating scones—all of them quietly enjoying the morning. Very few people talked; it was like they were allowing the morning to make the sounds for them. All that was really heard were chirping birds, owners setting up their shops and cafés for the day, and the occasional car.

I turned a random corner to find a small yogurt café that had just opened. It looked cute enough and I thought, I could eat some yogurt.  But then I saw the most wonderful words printed on a sign outside of the shop: “Free Yogurt with Any €5 Sandwich.”  Of course I went in. They had a wonderful selection of footlong sandwiches, and one called the Breakfast in Bread, that consisted of sausage, egg, bacon and this wonderful sauce they call “relish” that I had been seeing more and more in Galway. The relish has a sort of barbeque/maple taste and there are raisins in it. That on top of a breakfast sandwich was heavenly. And then came the free frozen yogurt. I asked them to top it with strawberry and kiwi, which they did. Mmm! A delicious, filling meal for €5. That’s a big deal.


I wonder if you’ve realized that one of the most enjoyable things for me in Europe is the food. I have written about it in, like, every post. I really do find quite a large amount of joy in eating the food here. Not that the food is necessarily better, it’s just a little different and I love tasting it. And taking a picture of what I eat and writing about it is kind of a souvenir in itself. I’d rather eat a nice meal or ice cream cone than buy a snow globe that says “PRAGUE” on it. So I will continue to eat.  J

Back to my morning alone.

At one point I had a fresh eclair.  Mmm. 

The street acts started right away in the morning, and went throughout the whole day. Check out some of my favorites.


I found out that there were bike rentals in the town centre, and by this time the guys had woken up, so I talked them into renting some bikes with me.  The deal was that we got the first three hours free, so we took that and went on a bike ride. We went along the coast of Galway. Check it out.


Joy.

Here’s a few other things that happened randomly in those couple of days. I’m really happy that I got to know this city. I mean, visiting somewhere amazing once for a few hours is great, but to stay somewhere and know the streets and buildings and little stores and people is so much better. I very much enjoyed Galway.

Peace and Love,

Brian

11 comments:

  1. What wonderful pictures you have on your blog with telling your own story. How valuable it will be in your future. (you should write a book) Can you believe you are in Europe? What wonderful memories you are making. This is a chance in a life time, so make the most of every minute of it. You are achieving your dream a day at a time. Search for the good in every adversity, as there will be bumps along the way. Always look for the rainbow . True happiness lies within you, so keep the peace in your heart. I did not mean to write a book. We love you very much and miss you. Grandpa and Grandma Steinhoff P.S. Please be careful.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The fish and chips look lovely! Do they serve it sprinkled with malt vinegar? What’s in the little cup?

    I had no clue that there were SO many street performers in Europe! That has to be a blast to walk around a town and be entertained on every block!

    Your photos of the cliffs are so beautiful! Ah…and I see you’re doing what is ‘culturally expected’ by climbing to the very top of the highest peak! (See my last comment from the previous blog about statues on top of high things.)

    Ya know I would yell at you and probably punch you REALLY hard in the arm about sitting at the top of that cliff with your trusty kite….but those two photos of you sitting on top of the cliffs just took my breath away. You are surrounded by such beauty…I can totally understand why you just had to climb up there and appreciate it all. (But pleeeeeeeeease don’t do it AGAIN!)

    I love the story about how you are now turning getting lost into an art form and finding those yummy donuts and Spanky the dog!

    I love how they treat mornings. I think we should take that up in America (hint…hint..Kent). I think we, too, should let the morning makes the sounds for us.

    I LOVE that artists are also ‘street performers’! Their use of shells and corks are simply amazing!

    Those pictures and your writing is simply beautiful. I love it that you are immersing yourself in the beauty, the tastes, the sounds of every where that you go.

    I love you!

    Mom

    ReplyDelete
  3. I love all those street performers Brian-really cool. Do they just leave those shells there when finished or pick it all up? I loved looking at the people in the backround pointing and talking about the art-haha

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hahahahahaha you almost missed your flight?! How ironic!
    I really enjoy the visual of the four of you awkwardly reapplying deoderant on the plane.

    I LOVE fish and chips! I'm pretty jealous that you've now had authentic Irish fish and chips :).

    hahahah did anyone else notice that Tim looks like a speedy superhero in the 2nd Galway town photo??

    Street acts and beer sound like a good time as well.

    The cliffs of Moher are FANTASTIC! What a great place to fly a kite!! And I can't wait to hold my dried flowers! Marina put a dried flower in our car, which reminds me of them all the time :).

    You DO talk about food a lot. But I'm not surprised. You and your family have multiple conversations every day about food... no offense, guys :D. Oh, and your favorite channel is Food Network. Etc, etc.
    Don't worry though, I enjoy reading about your food adventures! This heavenly doughnut is news to me!

    I looked up pictures of "bollards"... I will try to post one now.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Nope, wouldn't work. I guess they are those metal poles you see when a wide sidewalk a car could fit in is protected... or when a path has a sign that says "no motor vehicles." eh, just look it up. :P

    The yogurt sounds delicious. The variety of street performers is so exciting!

    WHAT AN AWESOME BIKE RIDE! (I have massive amounts of fun biking around St. Michael, so I would just die to bike in Europe.)

    love you!!!
    christie

    ReplyDelete
  6. thanks, grandma and grandpa! yeah, it's kinda crazy that i'm here in europe. every once and a while i'll be walking down a street and feel like i'm nowhere special, and then i look up and, whoa, there's the eiffel tower! it's nuts.

    mom, the little cup in the fish and chips picture is filled with peas. their peas were really different to me...they tasted like peas, but felt much more like beans, with an outer, chewy shell, and more of a chalky inside. i don't like peas whether they're familiar or not, so i had no problem pushing them to the side.

    i can't make promises about climbing things. i promise i'll be safe, though.

    i don't know, brenda, what the shell people did after they were done making their piece. i'm pretty sure i left the day after, so i didn't see. so i dunno.

    christie, tim is a speedy superhero. he jumped in a phonebooth and showed us his costume. tight, but actually quite flattering.

    ahh, that's what bollards are. i get that--they're all over in the places i've been.

    peace, all.

    b

    ReplyDelete
  7. hey....so who just signed up as a follower of your blog and calls themself "your damn mother"!!!??? :-)

    I think I kind of take offense to that! :-)

    so, just so everyone knows....that's not me...and that's not my picture...

    Hugs and kisses,
    MOM (his REAL mom!)
    :-)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hi Brian! Your real Dad here. I too wondered about the shell thing. I was kinda surprise the water was so clear in that one shot.

    Nice to see real fish n' chips. Was it good? Were the potatoes fried?

    Love you! Dad

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hahahahhahahahahaha,
    my best friend shelby just left for norway a few days ago and also made a blog on this same sight (shelbycominroundthefjord.blogspot.com even though none of you actually know her, haha) and that's her mom. I guess she's never met brian before but, uh, maybe she wanted to see who my boyfriend was or something....
    so yeah, i think that's her name because she was originally only going to follow her daughter shelby's blog.

    no offense, diane :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. I never liked Guiness myself...too chewy.

    The photos of you on the cliffs are breathtaking.

    ReplyDelete