Glorious Galway the jewel in Ireland's crown
One of my favorite things about my Australian boyfriend is how well traveled he is. He has been almost everywhere, and has a genuine interest in traveling to and learning about other countries and cultures.
When we first met two years ago in Cornell University, I was really impressed with his world knowledge and travel resume.
There was one problem though. He had never been to Ireland. He never wanted to go. He never considered going. He never heard from anyone that he ought to go.
Had he not met me, he would probably have lived a long, well-traveled life without visiting Ireland, or knowing much about it.
I was offended at the beginning. Then I grilled him. As it turned out, his parents hated Ireland. They went on a trip there in the 1970’s and had an awful experience – they were pick-pocketed by poor Dublin kids on O’Connell Street, they stayed in B&B’s without heating, they couldn’t bear the rain, the variety of food consisting mostly of potatoes, and so on.
Ouch. That hurt.
Because I know that Ireland is a totally different country now, and that people who never came back to see the changes for themselves will forever brand the country.
Stuck with this chip on my shoulder and the fact that he was coming to see me in Ireland after the summer semester, I decided to dispel these mad ideas he inherited from his parents and show him what a fabulous little island I come from.
It took a lot of planning, saving and help from my parents, but I organized a super trip for us.
As I am from Drogheda, and Max is a history buff, I took him to Newgrange. It was disappointing to know that he had never heard of it before.
People think Stonehenge when they hear ‘prehistoric monument’, but Newgrange is much better and older! It predates the Egyptian Pyramids by about 500 years. And so begins my very impressed and surprised boyfriend taking in Ireland’s glory.
Dublin is obviously a must see, and the mix of old and new is unlike anywhere in the world. Living among the old historic Georgian buildings soaked in history and culture is a diverse, cosmopolitan and worldly crowd.
Who would have thought that sushi was as easy to get as a pint of Guinness in Dublin? The injection of wealth and sophistication to Ireland is most apparent in Dublin, but despite this, it still retains class.
They say there is a difference between being wealthy and being classy, and Dublin shows the world how to balance that. I think Max got a surprise when we hit Dublin.
We ate in awesome restaurants, one French and one Thai. They had French and Thai staff, and the food was as authentic as possible. A city can become very generic if it shows off its array of international food and forgets about its own.
So as to showcase Ireland’s sophisticated palate, I took him to the café upstairs in Avoca Handweavers on Suffolk Street. Avoca is Irish food at its best.
It combines the freshest Irish produce with healthy and tasty ideas. Nights out in Dublin with my friends were memorable, and the craic was comparable to none.