Festival! Festival? Festi-no.
30.09.2012 - 01.10.2012 57 °F
Galway is an old port town on the north west coast of Ireland and our mutual love of oysters compelled us to make this town a stop on our trip. Doesn't the "Galway International Oyster Festival" have a certain ring to it? We mentioned this soiree a handful of times and were met with thin smiles and curt nods. Turns out that it's not really a festival, and it's not really about Galway, or oysters. But it does bring showy, pretentious people from around the globe for a good, old fashioned hobknobbing! One major enjoyable highlight was a cooking show put on by a relatively world famous chef at a restaurant called Fishy Fishy. We picked up some fantastic cooking tips, our coats, and went out into the city. Oh and the Gulf oysters blow these out of the water.
At first, the city was hard to get to know. The main tourist street was beautiful, but filled with those pesky tourists. We went into an old church, but didn't see any pamphlets, so we went out again. Hurumph. Out of desperation, we stepped into a local tour guide company and asked where we should start.
"Did you see the church?"
"Yes, but we left".
"Where are you from?"
"Did you know what you were looking at?"
"Err, no. It was old for sure."
"You were looking at the church where Christopher Columbus said his last prayers before embarking to the New World."
"Oh. .... We should maybe go back."
"Yes, I would think so."
We went back. Turns out the church was finished sometime in the early 1300s but was built on top of a norman chapel from around 900s. An anonymous Knight Templar is also entombed there. Most of the statues are headless and handless, part of the widespread desecration brought with the Cromwellian Invasions (also evident in Edinburgh). We started to understand where the Irish / English discontent may have started. Cromwell apparently used the church as a stables, you know, just to make a point. Also, the choir was practicing at the time which filled the whole church several seconds after they stopped singing. Wonderful.
What's another way to scoff at the English? Hurling. I mean the sport, which is a just-as-violent mix of rugby and lacrosse. Galway was, on that very day at that very time, in the finals for a hurling championship. We hopped into a pub off the beaten path, asked for some Guinness, to which I accidentally attempted to pay with 10 British pounds (they are a euro country). The bartender looked at my tender and replied "You can kindly dispose of that in the trash." D'oh! (FYI Galway lost, and I think I was blamed).
We wandered off to some other sites: the Spanish arch which used to be on the gates of the city, the museum which was closed, and along the wharf. The city really started to grow on us. Perfect little framed moments of beauty popped up around each corner.
We got pizza that night. Don't judge: you can only eat so much potatoes with stewed meat. And after these chips, we needed something we knew.