When I finished my first big trip in Europe last November, I was so excited that I wanted to write something about my experiences and impressions. As I travelled alone, I couldn’t tell people what I’d seen and felt along the way, so the writing would serve to share or, at least, to remember all my adventures around hostels and roads. Unfortunately, I stopped writing on my daily journal some days before taking the flight to Edinburgh (my long texts were overwhelming in the end). In consequence, I didn’t know exactly where to write. I’m aware I could have opened a Word file and just have written something. However, my life and my feelings at that time were too confused, and I had no motivation to organize my thoughts and turn them into a text. In addition, I had another big trip to plan, so the idea never went ahead.
Well, better late than never. I decided that I’ll write about my trips on this blog. Instead of beginning with my first trip around Europe, my mind will go back to my first journey in Ireland, more than one year ago, when I visited Galway, in the south of the country. Starting right now.
I’ve heard of Galway before leaving Brazil. The city has lots of students, including Brazilians, who are attracted by its atmosphere of tranquillity. It’s kind of a big village. If you prefer somewhere smaller and quieter than Dublin, Galway is a very good option. I intended to visit Galway, but it was just a plan for the future. However, the destiny conspired to send me there earlier than I expected – three weeks after my arrival in Ireland. At that point, I didn’t have a fixed place to live, so hostels were literally my house. As I forgot to book accommodation for the weekend, I became homeless out of the blue. The good hostels were full, and it’d cost an arm and a leg to go to a hotel. Furthermore, everything seemed far away. While I was looking for a solution, the idea came over: did I really need to stay in Dublin next weekend? What about going to travel? What about Galway? And this was the beginning of my backpacking life in Europe.
On Friday, after my classes, I just left my heavy luggage on the flat where I was going to live the next week and I went to take the bus. I was pretty excited. I spent the whole journey talking a lot with an Irish freelance photographer who was going to the region to make some pictures of a secret festival. It sounded very exciting and I regret not asking to go with him. I remember the conversation very well, especially because we talked about many subjects. In hindsight, I realize that my English was good since always in Ireland. I was worried for nothing, as a good anxious person must be.
Galway is very small (tinier than I expected), but it’s such a lovely town. I like Dublin, but it’s just another big city, nothing really special about it. However, Galway is exactly like your dreams about Ireland. Small, cute, colourful, with bridges and stone churches…
I planned (!) to see the name of the hostel on the bus, but I forgot. I didn’t have the address either. Without Wi-Fi, on the street, the only thing that I could do was asking people. Old style. Highly adventurous. After some information and wrong directions, I finally reached the place, in front of an amusement park. There was nobody to talk there – just a few teenagers in my bedroom, so I preferred to sleep and rest. I’m also an introvert, so I can cope with loneliness quite well.
The next day I joined a day trip to Cliffs of Moher. On the way, we stopped to enter the famous Aillwee Cave. Humid, cold and dark. It doesn’t sound joyful, but I like odd locations. My time would be more pleasant with new friends, but it was definitely a lonely journey. There was a huge group of Italians on the bus, and no one looked interested in talking to me. At that time, I was paranoid about my English, so I had the impression that I’d forget everything if I spent just one day in silence (I’m not so weird now – at least about it). On the Cliffs, I was irritated. The place was so overcrowded that it’d be impossible to get a space to take a picture. I loathe overpopulation of tourists. I can’t enjoy even the best scenario, like that one, with hundreds of hysterical people taking selfies. However, as I was decided to be incredibly happy during my “gap year”, I tried to put a smile on my face and overcome the annoyance. At least the weather, which was horrible in the morning, became sunny and warm in the afternoon.
Before going back to Galway, we stopped to take some snaps at Dunguaire Castle, the first real castle that I’d seen in my life! I was so delighted!
I liked the Cliffs, but it’s nothing compared to my love for Connemara. What a marvellous spot. I usually hate foggy days, but not even a horrible day is enough to bother you in Connemara. The place looks like a fairy tale, starting with the story of Kylemore, built by Mitchell and Margaret Henry. The young couple visited the area in the eighteenth century and, as she fell in love with the place (who wouldn’t?), he constructed a mansion for them. Some years later, she died due to a disease, and he spent the rest of your life alone. Both are there now, in a small graveyard. Apart from the mansion, there’s a church, an inspiring garden, a lovely lake in front of the house, everything surrounded by the mountains. My God, I loved that place so much. It’s so romantic, so poetic, so magic, so fascinating. I had to carry an open umbrella all the afternoon, but I didn’t care because it’s impossible to feel unhappy there.
I reserved the last day (Monday, a bank holiday) to stroll in Galway, but the city is so small that you don’t need an entire day. Even though it was Spring, the wind was strong, which made you feel cold. It was good to visit some museums, but they were all closed. I took some pictures from the sea, the boats, the shops… I enjoyed those days very much. Eventually, I was glad that I couldn’t find a bed in Dublin that weekend. As people usually say, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.