Last December I won a radio contest with Phantom (RIP) and 7UP. I got some cash, a hideous 7UP Christmas jumper, Christmas crackers, a case of 7UP Free and an all-expenses paid trip to the g Hotel in Galway. After decades of dialling into radio contests, I actually won something! Hooray for Santa! We decided it would be better to go west in the summer when the weather would be nice (yeah, right!), so last weekend we shipped off the kids and hit the road for our first trip away since Alex was born. It was amazing! (By the way, we had such a great time that I completely forgot about my DSLR so all these are iphone shots. Who cares? I’m sharing anyway!)
After getting my hair did (and going a little more blonde than intended), we hit the road around midday. The drive is quick, but pretty boring (Irish people, build some random roadside attractions please) luckily I am a great passenger, entertaining Chris with my best of 90s CDs and introducing him to some awesome classics like Naughty by Nature’s OPP and Arrested Development’s Tennessee (both of which I still shockingly know all the lyrics to). By the way, the Sunjellies Jelly Bag makes a great car companion. I stored everything I needed for the road trip in it (and then some)
So The g Hotel is amazing! We had a really lovely two night stay and made the most of everything the hotel had to offer. The room was really bright and comfortable and exceptionally clean. We had two little cakes welcoming us to the room, and you know cupcakes are the way to my heart! The décor is pretty fun, lots of bold colours and little Philip Treacy hats everywhere (in the door knobs, lights, chairs). It was a fun seek-n-find game. I was surprised by the location (in a retail park and attached to a cinema). Our room overlooked a Woodies, but they cleverly placed planters outside the window so it felt very private and secluded. Best of all, unlike our house, it was very quiet. You couldn’t hear anything from the rooms next door or the hallway. Peace and quiet is exactly what two tired parents ordered. It’s a small hotel with lounges on one floor, rooms on the other two. Each lounge was a little different–creamy white with bold bobble light fixtures and Charlie Chaplin films projected at night, hot pink with a hypnotic black and white spiral rug, rich jewel tones with ornate mirrors and pictures of supermodels everywhere. It’s very cool.
The first thing we did after unpacking was go to Penney’s, like a good American tourist. It was only as soon as we pulled in the hotel that I realised I’d forgotten my jacket. It was raining and I was wearing a backless dress, which is a pretty cold combo. Actually, this was my second raincoat to buy in the Penney’s off Eyre Square. You’d think I’d learn eventually. It rains here.
When we booked the stay we realised it was during the festival season in Galway (this is either a great or terrible time to visit the city depending on what you’re looking for). Our first night we were lucky enough to get tickets for the extraordinary Ballyturk. This was one of the best performances I have ever seen and really rattled me. You really need to try to see it in Dublin, Cork or London later this summer. Cillian Murphy and Mikel Murfi are stunning in it. I can’t say more without giving it away, but it totally got under my skin and I haven’t stopped thinking about it. I am now going to make a point of seeing anything and everything Enda Walsh puts his hand to.
Before and after the theatre we made a visit to the Pie Maker, a super tiny pie shop on Cross Street that has only pies, sweet and savoury and all absolutely delicious. The design was pretty much the opposite of The g, quirky and antique and wonderful (there’s a wall full of rulers with a slightly scary hidden door). It gets crowded (there’s only about 4 tables and some bar stools) but if there’s a free seat, it’s worth popping in! We then got a drink in craft beer mecca the Salt House (the Porterhouse chocolate truffle stout was incredible) and wandered around the waterfront until we found a giant metal scrapyard (you know you’re the parents of two little boys when a crane and scrap heap are super exciting to you!) Day two we hung out in the hotel in the morning, with a great big breakfast and a trip to the thermal suite – a really cool part of Espa at the g. It’s not complementary for residents of the hotel and you do have to book in advance, but it is worth it. It’s a huge black room with sparse lighting and origami cranes floating from the high ceiling with a large heated jacuzzi/pool in the centre. There’s also heated loungers, a steam room, sauna, and thermal showers. I was suffering from a sinus infection, but felt so much better and so relaxed after hanging out in there!
In the afternoon I decided to pretend it wasn’t pouring rain and wore the summeryest outfit I had (ice cream dresses and jelly shoes totally perk up the unsummery west coast gloom by the way). We saw God Help the Girl, the soon to be released film by Belle and Sebastian front man Stuart Murdoch, as part of the Galway Film Fleadh. I’m a bit of a B&S fangirl so I absolutely loved it. If you’re a fan of the group or if you like indie musical coming of age films, you’ll love it too. After the film we wandered up and down Quay Street a bit, buying wild flower bouquets and finding the most amazing children’s toy store, Wooden Heart. It was full of beautiful wooden toys and even had Radio Flyers. We may have been missing the boys just a little bit.
That night we had a three-course dinner in the hotel (part of my prize) and it was delicious. I had some crazy beetroot and goats cheese starter, sea bass and risotto for mains and chocolate fondant for desert. That’s pretty much all my favourite things (besides tacos). It was a lot of fun getting all dressed up for a nice dinner and then going back upstairs to tuck into our super comfy bed and read our books without any chores to do or kids to check on. We had probably the best and longest night’s sleep in the past 4 years.
Our last day, we made one more trip to the thermal spa and grabbed some lunch in town. The entire trip was topped off by finding the Reality Bites soundtrack in Oxfam for €2 (yay 90s!). I made Chris endure my Lisa Loeb impression several times on the ride home, and Chris dug it because he loves me.