The sea is good for the soul.
Taking an hour or more to walk into the city of Galway from the neighborhood of Salthill was like balm for my nerves. After a long week of meetings and a big presentation, I grabbed my Nikon and hit the beach. Forget the fact I was bundled up from head to toe with leggings under my jeans and a wool hat on my head. I was rewarded with a clear sky (rare in Ireland, as I learned) and took endless shots of sea, shore and pedestrians. With winter boots I trudged along through piles of seaweed and picked some seashells – one of nature’s sweetest souvenirs.
Walking into town over the raging River Corrib, I kept my map deep in my pocket and began to wander. Is there anything quite so nice as getting lost in a new place? Cobblestone streets, bright Christmas lights, hand painted Guinness Santa Claus advertisements and chalkboards shouting the day’s specials. I was hungry, happy and charmed all at once.
The St. Nicholas Market was in full swing by the time I spotted the church and a stream of people. Turning off the main shopping street, I ducked under a series of woolen mittens, socks and slippers and made small talk with the artist. From booth to table to stall to shack, a wide array of everything from vegetables to soap was on sale. My nose pointed me into the cheesemonger’s shop and who doesn’t like free samples?
I remember my host suggested falafel, and although I was extremely pleased with the cheap lunch (3 euro), I was head over heels for the donut man. An older gentleman who looked decidedly like the railway character in Polar Express, acknowledged my request for photos with an arched eyebrow. He leaned in and asked, “You’re not with the government now, are ye?” I said no and he laughed long and loud, and invited me to snap away.
For the record: best damn donut I’ve ever had.
I indulged my penchant for jewelry and met a young artist with an interesting story. The lovely Juliette of fretmajic fashions her Celtic wooden jewelry with leftover pieces from a musical instrument shop where she works part time. I was more than happy to pick up a pair of rose oak love knots for my mom, and circled back later to splurge on intricate bogwood earrings for myself.
The free museum, a wide open (and empty) tourist center where I booked my trip to the Cliffs of Moher, a bustling chocolate shop and another Christmas market in Eyre Square balanced my day. Shooting twinkling white lights and dedicated shoppers in the dark, I made my way into a pie shop for dinner, and decided to take the long way home back along the beach. Even this city girl needs some time with the ocean every now and then.