25 May 2011

weekend-beginning in ireland

So I went to Ireland for the weekend. Europe is great for being able to pop over to another country for a short stint. I had the Friday off so I decided to go away and spent most of my free time getting organised at short notice. I think the weekend was quite successful though as I had a great time. I landed in Dublin just before lunch and made my way to the city centre where I had accomodation booked. Turned out to be a poky little room. Nothing fantastic but sufficient and clean and it was available and not more than €100. It was bit tricky to find the place coz it took me quite a while to find the street signs. Mostly up on a building but not on every street corner. It did fascinate me that there was Irish (or Gaelic as those outside of Ireland know it as) on all the signs yet apparently only a small part speak it as their first language and even then they know English as well. It's even mandatory to study it all your school years there. I suppose it's nice to maintain that part of their heritage though.

Friday afternoon I went wondering and did a little tourist shopping as I made my way toward Trinity College where I met an online knitter friend. I had a good knitty, irish evening with her and her friends--including a half pint of Guinness--which you can read in more detail here. Saturday is the day of this post.

On Saturday I went on a day tour to see some of Ireland's countryside. Not nearly enough of course so I may have to try and get back some day. Still, for a weekend trip I think I did ok. We travelled on a comfy tour bus to Wicklow mountains. Our guide told us that the irish tend to exaggerate as he explained that none of the hills are really tall enough to be called a mountain. We had a photo stop at Loch Tay which apparently the locals call Guinness Lake (Can you guess why? See 1st pic.) We also had the briefest stop for the three of us who got off to take a photo of this bridge. It's the one they filmed at in P.S. I Love You where Holly and Gerry meet. Much prettier in the movie. Unfortunately the heather that covers Sally's Gap doesn't flower til August. We also stopped at Glenmacnass Falls which wasn't gushing and we were at a bad angle to actually view it. However the valley it ran into was pretty.

My favourite place on the tour was our 2 hour stop at Glendalough (based on the Irish for Glen of two lakes). I opted, with a few others, to go with the guide through the ruins of the 6th century monastic settlement. It also has a 10th century round tower which I think is the fourth tallest in Europe or something. There's not many left. The door, for security reasons apparently, is quite a way off the ground and they would climb to it by ladder then pull the ladder up. Then they could climb up the wooden platforms inside the same way. Our guide wasn't so sure it was a good safe house. He thought it could easily become a chimney. There were lots of celtic crosses around too and it was just amazing that these stones had been put together sooo long ago.

Once we'd finished that little tour I wandered off down the track toward the two lakes. At the fork I decided to take the boardwalk which was a little further but I like them and I was sure glad I went that way. I really enjoyed the scenery. I passed by the Lower Lake and then entered an area that was really packed with skinny trees.

It was spitting a bit too but I didn't mind at all. Glad I took my 'pac-a-mac' (ie. raincoat). It just made my irish experience more authentic. I was thrilled with the green. I love foliage and I love green so this walk was just splendid. The grass was very green, the trees were green, even the rocks were green. I made myself slow down to make sure I took it all in as much as I could because I know how quickly it just becomes a memory. I didn't want this to be one of those experiences where I regretted taking so many pictures I forgot to simply be there and take it in. Then I got the Upper Lake and had a little look around and a few photos before I needed to head back along the quicker path to the tour bus. I actually enjoyed the walk along the paths more than seeing the lakes.

Back on the bus our next stop was Avoca. We stopped here for lunch. I had a Beef and Guinness stew which was really yummy and a pint of Irish Cider. While the drink was quite nice I won't bother ordering a pint again. I honestly don't know how people can drink that much. It took me ages to finish. We went up the road a bit to the handweavers. Disappointingly I thought it would be interesting. Avoca is also the place they filmed the TV series Ballykissangel. Might have to find it and watch it.

From there we bused straight back to Dublin and I snoozed along the way. I felt like I hadn't seen much but there's not really a lot of Ireland viewing you can fit in just one day. So really the day trip was pretty good. I'm definitely glad I went and didn't only hang out in Dublin.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oh, Kel, the pics are fantastic!! Looks like such a gorgeous place! I'm glad you went too! ;-) Vi