Eager to travel, I took my first day trip with my new friend, Adrienne. We originally planned to go to the seaside village of Kinvara, but the Bus station rudely informed me that the only bus going to Kinvara would leave Galway at 3 p.m. That was too late for our day trip, so Adrienne and I power walked to the visitor’s center to make other plans. Inside the elaborate tourism center, we found a friendly employee who was incredibly helpful with informing us on which destinations would make good day trips for the day and how to get there. She explained a medieval town called Athenry that had a cathedral, castle, and a stone wall and had Adrienne and I sold. It didn’t take long for us to gather the train information and rush to buy our tickets at the station.
As we boarded the train, I remembered my travels in Italy and the unpredictability and possibility that comes from the destinations sought by trains. We both watched out our windows as the Irish countryside passed by our windows. The green hills dipped and rose with the rhythm of the train. But before we knew it, the train arrived in Athenry. We got off the train, unsure which directions to go, and started following an older man who clearly knew the way out of the station. “He seems like a reliable guy to follow,” I said to Adrienne. The man walked out of the loading dock and into the train station, but we soon realized where he was going as we followed him down a narrow hallway… the toilets. We giggled and spun around and rushed out the door.
Adrienne spotted a narrow pathway and we followed it past a church and onto a road lined with shops and cafes. We both admired the cute road and stopped in at a coffee shop called “The Nook” where a friendly barista greeted us. After we made a decision on a drink, the barista poured each of us delicious hot chocolates topped with strawberry marshmallows. Sipping the delicious hot liquid helped us stay warm while walking through the town on this cold winter day.
We walked through the cute town noticing that many of the restaurants and shops were closed, whether it was for good or temporarily during the offseason. The return time we picked at the tourism center was not until 3:30 p.m, but the town seemed so small already that we might not need to stay that long. Around the corner of one of the roads, we found a medieval church that was being restored, or cleaned out, or having some work done that required a slew of construction workers. The medieval architecture was not as impressive as I had hoped it would be. The cathedral seemed to be falling apart all over, but there still seemed to be something so intriguing about the ancient architecture.
The walk around the Cathedral did not take long, so we looked for the castle. In the small town, it didn’t take long for us to come across it. Nearby, there was a beautiful river with a stone wall surrounding it that made a great spot for photos. Another trip around the town and I realized we had covered mostly everything the town had to offer. To grab a bite to eat and pass the time, we stopped in at a cute bistro for lunch. I ordered a pot of tea with a croissant as she ate a splendid looking sandwich with fries. Without needing to rush to anywhere, we took our time eating and chatting in the adorable and warm restaurant. But the warm comfort couldn’t last forever and soon enough we were back out in the cold. Though the Irish seem scared to death of the cold weather, it has not bothered me or kept me inside at all. The cold in Ireland is much more humid and somewhat warmer than the cold I am used to in the States. It just so happens to snow, rain, or even hail a lot. Sometimes all in one day.
After lunch, we continued to mosey around the town, in shops, and past streets we had been down several times. Adrienne checked her watch and saw that we could easily catch the earlier train if we wanted to. Since we both knew there was not much more to see in the town, we grabbed something sweet, a caramel shortbread dessert in my case, from a little cafe and made our way to the train station. Our first day trip came to an end, but certainly satisfied my craving for travel.