How is it that a two hour plane ride can bring you to an entirely different culture? The town of Galway, Ireland was alive and buzzing with festivities for St. Patrick's Day weekend.
My incredible roommate from Linfield, Maggie, hosted my stay as she juggled homework for her classes at the National University of Galway. During my trip I was able to play tourist and have a guide who knew the ins and outs of the city. We also had the chance to explore with a bus tour to places she had never been.
My journey began with an 8-hour flight delay, but on the bright side it gave me a chance to see Oslo, the capitol of Norway, for the first time. I traveled with J.B., and managed to drag him through every souvenir shop in the city. We also toured the city hall (a must see) as well as the Vigeland sculpture park. From the outside we saw the palace, Akershus Fortress, and the harbor.
By the time we reached Galway it was 1:45am, and I will forever be thankful to Maggie and Holli for meeting me at the bus station. Saturday greeted us with sunshine and blue skies as we spent the day near Shop Street. It was a big change to go from my small Norwegian town of 5,000 residents to Galway, which is much larger and full of shops and restaurants. Street performers doing everything from magic to music were scattered through the city hoping to earn tips. The buildings and pubs stood tall with so much character shown through bright colors and unique architecture. There was a weekend market where we bought produce and the best doughnuts on this earth from the doughnut man. I have never tasted a cloud, but if you put some cinnamon sugar on it I'm pretty sure that's the closest I can get to describing one. The vibe of the city was charming and bold. Like many things in life, you have to jump in and experience it for yourself.
The entirety of Sunday was spent on a bus tour to the Cliffs of Moher with many stops along the way. Our driver was an energetic elderly Irish man with a huge personality who had been leading this tour for 25 years. Galway sits on the west coast of Ireland so I got a dose of the Atlantic after being land-bound for the past 2 months. We passed rolling hills of limestone rock and green pastures with livestock all fenced by stacked stone walls. Cottages with thatched roofs were also commonplace. We stopped at several stone churches and castles and got to hear unique histories of each. Reaching the Cliffs was breathtaking, and we had several hours to explore and take way too many pictures before heading home.
The holiday of anticipation arrived and the merriment began with a parade showcasing all walks of life from Galway. There were children from local schools playing instruments, traditional dancers, sports teams, circus performers, and a diverse range of cultures represented that all call Ireland home. The crowd was a sea of green, white, and orange attire. All sorts of crazy hats, face paint, costumes, and flags to commemorate St. Patrick's Day. I celebrated in the company of good friends and made some new ones too!
Now that I've been home for a day, my next adventure leaves tomorrow morning for an 8-day study trip on Lifjell skiing and snow camping. Better get back to packing, the mountain awaits!!
Best regards, Nicole Kachel