7 days in Ireland: Dublin to Galway by train

The journey by train from Dublin to Galway offers a nice visual introduction to the countryside of Ireland. The scenery that flashed by varied from suburban townhomes to sprawling lush fields. There are so many vivid shades of greens in the country but trying to capture it all from a speeding train was mostly unsuccessful. Also cows. So many cows.

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Things to know:

  • Passengers can book specific train seats in advance, like an airplane. When you get on the train check the small digital screen above each window to make sure the seat is not reserved.
  • The train ride from Galway to Dublin was about 3 hours.  Taking one of the bus services is a bit quicker and cheaper but not as comfortable.
  • If there was a quiet car, we didn’t find it. Bring headphones.
  • There is however, a food/drink service person that rolls around so you can drink your way through the loud phone conversation happening next to you.

Dublin to Galway by train

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7 days in Ireland: Dublin

We arrived in Dublin bleary-eyed and disoriented, underfed and underslept.

After waiting in several more lines, and retrieving our luggage, we slumped into a taxi. Thankfully our driver was hilarious and entertained us with stories about Americans he’d driven. Like the young Mormon woman who was horrified by his profanity. His impression of her, in his best American drawl (“You just said s-h-i-t and have dropped several f-bombs”) was a great (temporary) energy boost.

Upon arrival at our hotel, we realized we were both starving and exhausted – two basic needs that could not be met simultaneously. It took most of our energy to conclude that we probably wouldn’t be able to sleep over the sounds of our stomachs digesting themselves. We decided to get food at the nearest source: the hotel bar. I was baffled when he handed me a breakfast menu, until I realized that I had no idea what time it was.

I ordered a salad under the assumption that vegetables would make my body forget everything I’d put it through in the last 24 hours. It didn’t.

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Magic vegetables

Until that day I did not know how close a human being could get to unconsciousness while appearing conscious.  As we ate we laughed deliriously about how tired we were.  Sleep deprivation and drunkenness look very similar and everyone that was sitting around us would agree.  It took longer to get the check than it did to actually eat our meals. This became a theme which I’ll discuss in a future post.

And then we crashed. For hours. I know you’re supposed to stay awake and fight through it. But you’re also supposed to sleep on the plane so all bets were off. When we awoke we were still exhausted but unwilling to waste any more vacation time in bed.

Our hotel was in Ballsbridge, a wealthy neighborhood in Dublin. After I booked, I was concerned that it would be a bit far out of the city but it ended up being very walkable, with plenty of pubs, restaurants and stores, and only a 10-15 minute walk into city centre.

We easily blended in as we stared at our maps, bewildered. And stared at oncoming traffic, bewildered. And stared at each other, bewildered.

I think it’s this way. Wait do we look left or right? When do we cross? Are we awake right now?

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With the guidance of some helpful (and handsome) locals, we found our way to St Stephen’s Green, a gorgeous public park.

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After a nice stroll around the park, we stumbled upon Hugo’s, a lovely French/Irish bistro. The charming ambiance and extensive wine list were just what we needed. IMG_0101IMG_0109.jpgI don’t recall much after that, since I didn’t take any pictures. I think we walked around a bit more, wandered into a couple pubs, but the gravitation pull of our beds eventually became overwhelming.

The next day we were feeling semi-human again and decided to listen to the recommendation of several friends and do a Hop on Hop Off Tour. It is the best way to get your first introduction to Dublin (and take brief accidental naps on the shoulder of the stranger next to you).

IMG_0144IMG_0146IMG_0148IMG_0160IMG_0163IMG_0165IMG_0167IMG_0168IMG_0171IMG_0174IMG_0178IMG_0218With our ticket we could take unlimited tours for 24 hours. We ended up riding in 4 different buses – some were more modern with a recorded tour and complimentary headphones – while the others had a driver with a microphone. Either way it was well worth the 20 euros.  (At one point we waited 20 minutes on a bus for it to take us one stop – a 10 minute walk. We were that tired.)

We didn’t do many of the more touristy stops because the lines were long and our energy scarce.  But if you have the stamina, there are plenty of great options like the Guinness Storehouse, the Dublin Zoo, Jameson Distillery, Dublin Castle and much more. Instead we spent time exploring the neighborhoods, eating at random restaurants and buying me a wool sweater so I’d stop dramatically shivering. Ah those Irish Summers.

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Temple Bar

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Best purchase of my life

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First Fish and chips. Good photo op, mediocre taste.

Dublin is a fabulous city. Many people recommended that we spend a short time there before heading onward but I loved it and could see myself living there. It was clean, charming, surprisingly diverse, and easy to get around by foot or public transport. People were friendly and pubs, shops and restaurants were aplenty. I’d go back in a heartbeat. My first husband is waiting after all.

IMG_0238After a night spent ogling European men at a pub (how are there so many attractive ones? Why do we live in the US??) and a delicious dinner of tapas, we called it a night.

Next stop: Galway.

2 days in Dublin Ireland