Category Archives: Travel

[Travel] 3 Day Staycation in Galway

Spanish Arch area

Spanish Arch area

Last weekend, we went to Galway for a staycation and some much needed R & R. We stayed at The Twelve a small but perfectly formed hotel in Barna, just outside Galway city.  The staff were very welcoming and  the little extra touches made our stay memorable.

Moody photo over Connemara mountatins

Moody scene over Connemara mountains

I would describe The Twelve as a culinary hotel and its wine list has received several international awards. Bars aren’t usually my scene because as a non-drinker I always feel like an outsider. However, with its hospitable atmosphere and mix of locals and hotel guests, I immediately felt at ease in The Pins Gastro Bar at The Twelve. Although I don’t drink, I am partial to a cocktail and sampled several on the menu (try the Berry Cheesecake you won’t be disappointed).

Welcome treats

Welcome treats!

Enjoying Atlantic views with er...friends

Enjoying Atlantic views with er…friends

Yum...food at West Restaurant

Yum…food at West Restaurant

We popped into Cupan Tae (Irish for cup of tea) in Galway city for some lunch and with its kitsch interior and delicious food, it’s well worth a visit.

Cup of tea at Cupan Tae

Cup of tea at Cupan Tae

While driving through the Connemara mountains we spotted a few Connemara ponies which are Ireland’s only native breed of pony.

Ireland's only native breed

Spotted! A Connemara pony

Silver Strand beach was our last stop before we headed home and is considered as one of Galway’s most popular beaches. You can see from the picture why…

Silver Stand beach

Most of that tea ended up on my top

[Travel] Celebration of the long weekend

St Patrick’s Day and New Years’ Eve are two bank holidays that I never know what to do with my time; party poppers, shamrocks and parades aren’t really my thing.  So this year I decided not to focus on the day but to enjoy the long weekend.

Day 1

Sightseeing always seems like a good idea but usually ends up with false recommendations of an “interesting day out”.  So what better way to spend a couple of hours than walking around an old prison, right?…

Inside prison cell

Through the spyhole

Kilmainham Gaol is Europe’s largest unoccupied prison and is situated west of Dublin city centre. You cannot book tickets in advance and early arrival is advised as tours book out quickly.  While we were waiting for our tour, we were able to look around the gaol’s museum and as museums go I found it quite interesting and recommend a look around if you have time. The tour began with a few safety messages because the gaol’s doorways and staircases are narrower and lower than someone living in the 21st century would be used to.

The tour guide was very knowledgeable and I really enjoyed her interpretation of the gaol’s past…especially when she stopped the initial video presentation to tell a group of girls, in no uncertain terms, to shut up or get out!

The gaol itself is seeped in Irish history and was home to some of Ireland’s most famous son’s including many of those involved with Ireland’s struggle for Independence.  During the Irish Famine (1845-50) thousands of people passed through the door of Kilmainham Gaol because they were guaranteed a meal three times a day.  The most famous part of the gaol is known as the East Wing and has appeared in many films including The Shawshank Redemption, In the Name of the Father and the original Italian Job to name a few.

I would highly recommend this tour to everyone, even those of you with the same reservations as me when it comes to sightseeing activities.

Adult tour ticket is €6

Day 2

Last year my mummy (AKA Tish) ran the Derry marathon and has been putting us to shame ever since.  On the 16th March she ran the Dune (Newry to Dundalk) half marathon and we went along to show our support. Go Tish! 

Go Tish!

Right to left: Ashlyn and Tish

Day 3

Happy St Patrick’s Day! Instead of sitting and eating as much chocolate that is humanly possible before watching the various sporting events on offer, we decided to climb Slieve Gullion mountain.  We set off with our packed lunch and waterproofs to begin the climb. I haven’t been very active in the exercise department for longer than I care to disclose, so this wasn’t going to be easy.

Last minute fuel stop

Last minute fuel stop

Shadowy people

Shadowy people

We walked until reached our agreed finishing point when Micheal suggested that we go to the top…I agreed and we continued our journey to the peak of the mountain. Until this stage I was coping ok and was happy with my progress, but as the terrain that we were now “hiking” wasn’t nicely tarmacked, the trail required large stepping stones to make the route more accessible. This took its toll on my legs almost immediately and I felt like Cheryl Strayed climbing the PCT in her book Wild (highly recommended).

Despite my sore limbs, I kept going and on the way up, met a father and mother carrying a 6-month-old baby down from the peak…reckless doesn’t even begin to describe their decision. When we finally got over the shock of what we had just witnessed, our final destination was in sight. We reached the top and it was freezing, the temperature difference was incredible.  This temperature drop along with a gale force wind is one of the reasons why you will not see any photos of me on the top of the mountain!  We took our photos and got down as quickly as possible to a well deserved lunch.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable day that won’t be forgotten in a hurry (partly because of the muscle pain in my ass that lingered for days)…

Tired boots

Done

Naive me

Underestimation face