Cycling along the Wild Atlantic Way from Doolin to Galway
We catch up with Karli the Australian cyclist as she moves on into the next stage of her trip, going from Doolin to Galway.
It was a good job that the night before my 86km cycle along the Wild Atlantic Way from Doolin to Galway I refrained from drinking. I awoke to a worried call from my uncle telling me to stay indoors as the forecast was frightful. Heavy rain and gale force 8 winds. Even the people of Ireland had deemed it exceptionally bad weather. In complete defiance of common sense I set off on my bike. It was a challenging cycle but my saving grace was that the gale force winds were miraculously at my back. I felt like I was cheating as I sat back and let the mighty gusts carry me.
Not long into my cycle I passed the Burren. The Burren is this incredible landscape of limestone formed hundreds of millions of years ago. I felt like an immeasurably less impressive Neil Armstrong as I cycled through the gorgeous moon-scape style area.
I eventually arrived at my hostel in Galway completely soaked. I put some semi (always semi) dry clothes on and went to explore. Galway had a super open, alternative, accepting vibe going on. Walking through the main strip I passed a plethora of musicians playing all manner of music. In the space of 15 minutes I had passed a violin player, a banjo player, two guitar players and an eclectic instrumental band with accompanying tap dancer.
That night I hung out with a fellow cyclist from Germany and a friendly entrepreneur from China. We travelled from one trad session to the other enjoying all the music Galway had to offer. After we’d had a few, I decided to demonstrate my offensively bad Irish dancing moves that my cousin had regrettably taught me. I got some strained encouragement and cringes from the locals but a highly enthused response from Mr Entrepreneur from China who was not used to drinking and underestimated the strength of a pint.
The next day I visited the Galway museum and learned about the Galway writer Padraic O’Conaire who had a significant influence on Gaelic literature. His statue is iconic but had taken a holiday to Dublin when I visited. From the museum I walked to the Latin Quarter of the city, famous for its food and music. It’s a really beautiful part of town and I had some killer Italian food.
Later that day I sat by myself at a quiet little bar just near the hostel and drank a pint. I was joined by a lovely Irish couple who were awaiting the arrival of their newest grandchild. We sat and drank and talked about babies for a good couple of hours. I also had my first experience of a very strong southern Irish accent. There were moments where all I could do was provide some clueless but encouraging smiles and nods. Eventually their grandchild was born and they left, but not before shouting me a pint.
I was not alone long before a drunken man approached me and insisted on ignoring my ‘independant woman don’t need no drunk man’ vibe. It was so obvious to all around that he was crossing boundaries and so when the bar staff had decided they’d had enough they took the man’s drink and gave him his money back. He left confused. I was then given a free pint for having to deal with his failed attempt at a mating ritual. Another demonstration of the incredible hospitality shown by Irish people. I ended up going out with an awesome member of the bar staff that night and had an unexpectedly stellar night out in Galway. So many cool, alternative pubs and clubs with music you can really grind/twerk/dab/popnlock to. There are also some great pubs for Irish set dancing or dosey doe-ing…….if that’s more your thing.
I arrived back at my accommodation in the knowledge that tomorrow’s cycle was going to be a great and almighty challenge. Before sleeping I sat in the communal space of the hostel and had a great laugh with fellow hostellers. Retrospectively I may have been the only one enjoying the interaction. Ignoring all blatant social cues I took my sweet time getting to bed and managed about 2 hours sleep. The next day I would cycle from Galway to Rossavel to make the 1pm ferry.
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