Posts Tagged With: Galway

A Ring With Special Powers?

The BOXCar

By TheBOX Car’s featured Travel writer Sharen Ram

The more I travel about in Ireland, the more I come to realize that this country is full of stories about love.  These stories may all start off in a face-off between good and evil in times of war and heartbreak but it seems that all the myths about leprechauns, fairies, and the underworld tie back to romantic notions of love conquering all.  I could go on and on about these mythical tales but it seems making my way through County Galway is where I’ve heard most of them and this in turn, is the birthplace of the Claddagh ring.

There are as many versions of the legend about the origin of the ring as there are different takes of the distinctive design with 2 hands holding onto a heart that’s wearing a crown.  The legend I like to believe as truth is…

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Categories: IRELAND, ireland: galway | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pills, Bikes, and Sudden Showers…

By day 4, I had found my flu’s kryptonite – a little white pill followed by a big white pill all washed down with a fizzy drink and a little Snicker’s on the side for protein nourishment.  A bottle of water or two consumed throughout the day also helped with the dehydration issue and didn’t render my kryptonite concoction ineffective either.  In all honesty, this might not scream image of health but when on the road, you do what you have to do to keep on moving.  And moving was exactly what was on my agenda.  After a 40 minute bus ride followed by a 45 minute ferry ride and I was going to find myself on Inis Mor (the biggest of the Aran Islands) where I planned to cycle around like a 5-year-old.  I had images of the wind in my hair as I bombed around on a bike carefree in the mid-day sunshine.

Inis Mor, Aran Islands, Ireland Travel

Stop #1 Close to the Seal Colony

The sad truth is what I imagined in my head doesn’t always reflect reality.  When I woke up in Galway and it was pouring cats and dogs but by the time I reached Inis Mor the rain had stopped and I could see a bit of blue.  I’m not sure if its just me being delusional once again but I’m starting to believe that the sky is actually bluer in Ireland.  Crazy talk aside, because the rain had stopped, it seemed like the only logical thing to do was bee-line for the bike rental shop and then set off to explore.  The first obstacle that I hit was trying to find an adult bike that wasn’t too big for me.  If there was a BMX child’s bike than I would have been totally game but sadly there wasn’t and after breaking a nail and 30 minutes of trying on bikes for size, I found one that would finally fit pint-size me.  Yay!

Inis Mor, Aran Islands, Ireland Travel

Rest-stop to enjoy the beach before cycling on

And just like that – I was off to explore the island with 3 others (we had lost the majority of our group in the shuffle from the ferry to getting the right bike).  Thankfully, losing the group was a blessing in disguise as it was easier to tell the whole truth about the difficulties and painfulness of cycling as an adult to a small and select group of people rather than broadcast it to the world.  But what we lacked in energy and fitness, we made up with chatter and gumption.  Slowly but surely, we cycled around that damn island as we swerved left, passed on the right, walk the bike up the biggest of hills, and did whatever was required to maneuvered past the horse and carriages that took up the majority of the road.

Inis Mor, Aran Islands, Ireland Travel

The view after our climb up a hill

We saw the sights as listed on the map and climbed a small hill on top of that.  The sun was constantly peeking out from behind the clouds and the day was good.  But this is Ireland after all and sadly, we didn’t manage to bask in the sunlight for too long as we hit a 3 minute torrential downpour on our way back to the pier.  And 3 minutes was all it took to soak us from head to toe and leave us shivering, cold, and sore from an overly active day for a long journey back to Galway.

Inis Mor, Aran Islands, Ireland Travel

View from the other side of the hill we climbed…

Categories: IRELAND, ireland: aran islands | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tick Tock, Tick Tock!

I’m not sure if this is just because I’m growing slightly more impatient and demanding with old age but I’m starting to think that I should stop purchasing organized tour vouchers in the name of saving money.  This weekend was even further proof that I don’t enjoy travelling around Ireland as part of a tour.  I think part of the reason is the way the tours themselves are organized here and the other part may have something to do with my mild allergy to other people and a huge dislike of schedules that I can’t bend/influence to suit my fancy.  It all started with the fact that I had a Living Social voucher for a tour of Cong and Connemara with the Dublin (otherwise known as Galway) Tour Company which was burning a hole in my pocket.  I’m usually the girl who buys these vouchers and lets them expire but the new thrifty me wasn’t going to let this happen and so this weekend it was the tour or bust!

Cong – quick snapshot taken while running to meet the bus on time

As I was hell-bent on doing this tour, I was up at the crack of dawn so I could meet and greet the busload of strangers who I would experience the Irish countryside with.  YAY!  Turns out that most were keen on keeping to themselves except for a pervy man who kept eyeballing me and trying to chat me up whenever his wife/girlfriend/situation left his side.  Its times like this that I wished I had the balls to say, “No hope in hell…you fugly old balding weirdo!” instead of putting on my headphones and screaming, “Sorry, I can’t hear you!”.

Aside from the thrilling company on board that made this an unforgettable experience, I also felt lied to by the brochure.  The trip said it was for Cong and Connemara so one would expect to spend the bulk of time exploring Cong and Connemara right?  Turns out that this is a bad assumption as we only had 20 minutes allocated in Cong which served as a coffee break, pee stop, and run around to see as much as humanly possible if you dare.  It was no better in Connemara as the major stop made was at the Kylemore Abbey and Gardens.  At this stop, we were released for 2 hours to get off the bus (15 mins wasted right here), have lunch, deal with queuing, wait for a shuttle to the gardens, and explore the grounds before it was back on the bus again.

Connemara – Kylemoore Abbey

By the end of it all, I felt like I was on a race against the clock and didn’t get anything accomplished at all.  I ran out of time at each of the stops and wasn’t able to see everything that was advertised and yet I managed to see more than the average person.  The bulk of the day was spent sitting inside a bus as the driver told us interesting stories and pointed out places that would be cool to visit if the bus would just stop.  Eventually, I gave up and just put my headphones on so I could enjoy my favourite hobby of napping.  The one thing I know for sure is that I will be returning to this region on my own (note to self: must learn to drive stick for cheaper car rentals!) as the trails in Cong and Connemara would make for a great walk.

Categories: IRELAND, ireland: cong, ireland: connemara | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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