Thursday, 27 October 2016

TRAVEL: 48 Hours In Galway

During the summer, on a whim, my parents, brother and I went to Galway for the weekend. We were all wiped and our proper holiday for the year was still a month away, so we thought we'd go on a pre-holiday to keep us going until we could get a real break.

As per, leaving took longer than it should have, and we didn't arrive in Galway until the afternoon. We unpacked, had a drink on the balcony, overlooking the ocean and then walked along the sea into the city centre for dinner at Dela Restaurant.

Luckily (or unluckily, in this case), we happened to have chosen a weekend during the Galway Arts Festival and the town was buzzing with excitement. There were all sorts of musical, art and performance events taking place around the city and we planned to take full advantage of the fact. However, it also meant extra people in the city and when we arrived in the restaurant, we were informed that Bell X1 and their entourage had just been in and eaten all of the pork belly, much to my disappointment.

After perusing the menu for an alternative and ordering, I nipped to the bathroom. Cue potentially the most Colette story of my life.

I did notice, as I locked the door, that the lock was a bit dodgy but ignored my intuition and turned it anyway. When I tried to unlock it, I realised that the knob was loose and not turning the bar that slid across to open and close the door. I turned it repeatedly and, at the noise, a girl outside asked me if I was okay. I told her what had happened and she went to ask a waitress for help before returning shortly to say that it was, apparently, common and to keep trying and turning the handle. She left before I could say that wiggling it was not going to solve the problem. Battling the panic that was starting to wash over me (I have a childhood trauma about being locked in bathrooms), I decided to just ring my father and tell him what had happened (thank God I, unusually, happened to have brought my phone with me).

Next thing I knew, my father, brother and the owner were all gathered outside the cubicle, passing me knives under the door and giving me advice on how to jimmy the lock into place. I knew that the bar was knocked out of place and removing it was the only thing that would fix it and kept asking for a screwdriver. But my pleas were ignored and my dad even attempted to kick the door in. Finally, a screwdriver was passed under the door to me and I removed the lock and escaped, without succumbing to a panic attack. When I walked back into the restaurant, all eyes were on me as word of the incident had clearly spread. As I moved through the building with burning cheeks and shaky legs, back towards our table, I realised the worst part of the situation: my traitorous family had eaten all the starters without me.

I perked up when the owner brought over a bottle of Prosecco for the table, on the house, and once the leftover shakes went away, I even laughed about the whole thing. Plus, the food was great and eating always improves my mood.

The next day we got up late, took a bus into town and had brunch in the House Hotel, as we planned what to do with ourselves. After going to the market and wandering around the shops, I convinced everyone to go to the Hughie O'Donoghue exhibition that was being held in town and, happily, everyone enjoyed his work. The riot of colours and grand scale against the pared-back warehouse setting made for a striking pairing and everyone indulged me in some art talk, which I don't have enough of in my life anymore.

We then sat outside in the sunny little courtyard at the Kings Head, a medieval pub, for a gluttonous afternoon snack of desserts and pints. The rest of the day was spent lazily wandering and shopping some more before heading to Bite Club for dinner. I had been on my last trip and really loved the place so I insisted on dragging everyone else there. The hip interiors and street food menu worried my parents at first but once my dad got a Margarita Slushie into him, he was a lot more receptive to trying new things.

That evening, after we got back to the apartment, my brother and I went down to the beach and splashed around in the water, while others looked at us like we were lunatics for braving the cold Atlantic sea on an overcast night. Then we decided to dry off and head up to the arcade in Salthill where we just about managed to earn enough tickets to win a ridiculous stuffed flower toy for our mother. When we returned to the apartment, we presented the prize to Mammy (who was somewhat underwhelmed) and spent the rest of the night watching movies together.

Upon waking the next day, we found a Galway that was so sunny, it looked like the Mediterranean. The sky was perfectly clear and the water was bluer than I've ever seen in Ireland before. Of course, it happened to be the day we were headed home but we made the most of it: we had brunch by the sea, walked along the beach and then drove out to the village of Spiddal and had a wander around the craft centre there. And then, as if proof were needed, my being spoiled was made especially apparent when Dad drove me all the way back to my apartment in Dublin.

The whole trip was very short but incredibly sweet and I got to spend a lot of quality time with my baby brother, which I don't get a lot of in my life anymore. And, of course, I'm eternally in love with Galway and jump at the chance to visit whenever I can.






















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