After our insane day trip to the Aran Islands, we spent the night at a cozy B&B in Galway, eating coconut cheesecake in bed while it poured rain outside. Galway is right on the coast so with the wind that night we were basically hiding inside from a monsoon. We slept in the next morning and after a long (and incredible) breakfast we headed into downtown Galway to shop around. They have a TopShop as well as amazing department stores in Galway and it was really hard for me not to buy all the things.
After picking up some sandwiches at a local deli we headed up to Cong, where we would be staying for the night. When we booked our trip, the tour we picked let us pick what B&B's we would be staying in, and then they automatically booked us for a night at the Ashford Castle. We didn't realize, however, that Ashford Castle is an actual CASTLE (that makes me sound idiotic but seriously) and five star resort, with grounds that encompass the entire town of Cong. When we drove over the moat and up to the valet parking, our mouths literally dropped when we realized that we were staying here for the night. The castle has hosted celebrities like Mel Gibson and Ronald Reagan, and we felt extremely out of place. Traveling through Ireland on a tight budget doesn't typically entail a night in a castle.
But we went with it. We spent the afternoon in the drizzly (but refreshing) rain, roaming the miles of walking trails the castle has. We couldn't afford to do any of the fancy things they have at the castle like falconry, horseback riding, fishing tours, or archery, but we were content with touring the grounds and resting in the drawing room.
I was proud of myself in the fact that I did a little bit of research of dining options at the castle before we left for Ireland. The George V dining room runs about 75 euro a person, and Chin and I both knew that wasn't going to fly. Also, we tried to pack light for our trip and the dining room requires women to wear a formal dress and the men a suit coat and tie. We opted for the more casual (and much less expensive) dining option and ate at Cullen's. In the summer months, Cullen's is located in a cottage right next to the castle, but in the winter, Cullen's is literally located in the Dungeon of the castle. They send the cheap, young, married students to the dungeon for dinner, and we were totally fine with it. It turned out that the less expensive restaurant was still the nicest and most gourmet of our trip. Perhaps not the most traditional Irish meal, but incredibly delicious.
After our rugged day in Inis Mor, Ashford Castle was a little taste of luxury that we felt pretty undeserving of. We felt like a king and a queen and pretty much decided that someday when we have some real money we'll come back in the summer and do falconry and eat in the fancy dining room. But until then, we're totallllyyyy fine with our one night stay at Ashford.
The grounds were unbelievable, and the castle dates back to the 12th century!
Fresh artisan breads, and incredible appetizers were just the start of our meal at Cullen's
While out exploring the ground we found a bridge in the middle of the woods crossing over the river that goes past the castle. Everywhere we turned we found so many hidden gems!
SO MUCH GREEN
A little shot of downtown Galway. I want to live in Ireland.
Thanks for following along on our journey through Ireland! It's been fun to look back on our trip and remember all the amazing adventures we had there. For me, it was a trip of a lifetime and I'm glad I got to share it with my husband and partner in crime.