Hello, hello, friends! We made our way to Galway by car and turned the car back in, which I couldn’t be happier about. We essentially road tripped around Ireland and I realized I’m not really that into road trips. It was worth it, and beautiful, but a lot of time in the car. Now on to public transport, with wi-fi!
We arrived to the Kinlay Hostel in Galway City since we heard it is one of the best from other travelers we met at previous hostels. Apparently it was voted the best hostel in Ireland this year. It definitely lived up to its reputation! They even have soy milk for their breakfast cereals. Yum. Upon arriving at the hostel, I asked about yoga classes nearby since I’ve been dying to check them out. The guy at the front desk recommended a place called An Seomra Yoga, which as far as I can tell means the yoga room in Gaelic. Listen to the pronunciation of seomra here. The studio was about a 5 minute walk from the hostel through the Spanish Arch and across the River Corrib. I went to the Vinyasa class that one of the owners, Paul, was teaching. They also offer Ashtanga, Hatha, Yin/Yang, Kundalini, Gentle, Iyengar, Kids, Prenatal classes and guided meditation.
I brought my mat and it was not a heated class so most people did not use towels. Paul played light music along with class and there were about 10 students in class. True to the Irish spirit, Paul was jovial and cracked jokes throughout class. He made sure to learn the new student’s names and paid close attention to form, which is the personal attention you sometimes miss in a larger class. They didn’t have the larger foam or cork yoga blocks like I am used to but instead had props such as cylindrical bolsters, smaller wood blocks, and yoga bricks. I also thought it was pretty funny how he made reference to doing poses that “looked like you are laying there hung over” (reclined spinal twist) and “looks like you are sitting at a bar after having too many” (supported double lat/tricep stretch like this only with elbows on wood blocks). Making reference to drunkenness may seem taboo in the yoga classes I’m used to, but it made everyone laugh and I found it quite amusing.
I also thought it was really cozy that at the end while lying in savasana, they offered blankets that were about the size of towels to drape over the students for a more comforting meditation. I had heard recently that the Irish are not known to keep good time, which I hadn’t actually experienced too much, but the class ended up being 2 hours. I’m still not sure if that was on purpose and I was just unaware, or if we just lost track of time. 🙂 I paid the teacher (15 Euro for drop-in) at the beginning of class directly as there was no “check-in” area or formalized system in this small studio. There is a place for your shoes on the way up to the second floor from the main door outside, and you walk right up into the yoga studio. There is a small room with a small curtain if anyone needs to change, and they had cubbies for jackets or other personal items that you don’t want to bring into class. I’d definitely recommend this studio as it was really charming and I liked the class size.
In addition to the yoga recommendation, this particular hostel features a running club (whoo hoo!!). Well, it’s not a running club quite like my beloved Calhoun Beach Running Club back home, but they do offer runs at the hostel every weekday at 8AM.
The organized runs just started a few months ago, and it hasn’t been hugely popular but I definitely took advantage and think it’s a great idea for guests. They go 7K out to Salthill Village along the Corrib River (below), out past Claddagh Park and to near the coast of the Atlantic. Speaking of Claddagh, the Claddagh ring originated in Galway. Actually, it originated in Claddagh village, but is now a part of Galway City. Claddagh rings and jewelry are popular among the Irish and Irish-Americans. They symbolize love, loyalty and friendship (read more here). The route was a perfect distance since my knee is still bothering me. There were no other runners on our run that were staying at the hostel, but I had a nice chat with the “guide” and he was really nice and pointed out the sites and told me a little about the flooding that they’ve been having here due to the storms a few weeks ago. The River Corrib was high and rushing by us for sure!
I also had one of the BEST meals so far here in Galway. I’ve probably not been the most strict vegan while traveling. I’ve not eaten any meat, but have had a few goat cheese veggie sandwiches. Finding vegetarian options in Ireland has not been difficult at all, but finding truly vegan food was more difficult in the countryside and smaller towns. I used my Happy Cow app in Galway and found a few gems. I visited The Quay Street Kitchen, which is located along one of the main streets in Galway. It was spectacular! They offer non-vegan/vegetarian options as well, but they had a few totally vegan options on their menu.
They had a vegan wrap, tofu “fish” fingers, a vegan curry, vegan or vegetarian burger, and soup or salad. It was notable that they used vegan olive oil and vegan mayonnaise which shows how dedicated they are to satisfying their vegan customers. Their vegan wrap is to. die. for. It consisted of hummus, tabbouleh, falafel, greens, and tomatoes.
I of course could not resist trying their fries with the vegan mayo (so not healthy, but it was great). After a lot of PB&Js and toast with jam for breakfast day after day, this was such a treat of a meal. I also got an Irish Blonde Ale as celebration for the experience! 🙂 Definitely try this place if you ever make it to Galway. I’m sure all of their food is just as great!