Sunday, January 08, 2017
Wednesday, October 26, 2016
Dublin bus drivers were on strike the day we had to get to the airport, but fortunately we knew in advance, so we had long since booked a cab. Which worked out great. We spent a few hours in Toronto, picked up our car at Mark and Alison's in Vancouver, and were home by 10 (Seattle time).
I then spent almost five weeks posting stuff to the blogs.
We put over 1700 miles on our Dacia Duster. No bruises, no dents (not to which we'd admit), no flat tires (but one slow leak). We only drove on the right side of the road a couple of times, which we corrected quickly, but it seemed like most of the roads we drove on were too narrow to have either a right side or a left side. But after two weeks of gritting our teeth and grabbing the strap, it was nice to be back on public transit.
The Powerscourt Gardens, along with Glendalough, are both on the one-day bus tour circuit out of Dublin, so I was a little concerned we would find Powerscourt packed with coaches and middle-aged couples with name tags (just like us, but we didn't have name tags). But it was fine.
When we left Cashel in the morning, we didn't know how far we'd get, let alone where we were going to stay. We came down out of the Wicklow Mountains very late in the afternoon and pulled over to start looking at options (we used our phones the entire trip with cellular turned off, but with a portable WiFi hotspot that kept us connected to the web).
I hadn't originally thought we had much chance of getting out to the coast, but when I realized that Bray was only 20 minutes farther down the road, the beach began calling me. The clouds were also looking like they might break for a minute or two before sunset, which seemed like it would be a nice change after two days of bleak inland skies and grey stone medieval architecture. I doubt M shared either the impulse or the concern, but together we found a hotel on the beach in Bray that looked like it might be okay.
I walked the beach in the morning and even thought about hiking up to the top of Bray Head (but didn't). Then I think we ended up grabbing coffee and a snack of some sort for breakfast at a cafe on the promenade.
The Wicklows rise south of Dublin - we could see them from the Guinness Storehouse two weeks earlier. They are not spectacular mountains, even by Irish standards. The modest range of ancient hills forms a high plateau surrounded by glacial valleys that I can easily imagine were once heavily forested (the mountains themselves were also once heavily forested). Glendalough is probably the best known of these valleys (previous post). But we also drove up the nearby Glenmacnass Valley and its waterfall, where tannin-colored water cascaded down several hundred feet of rock (granite, I think).
Kilkenny is another of those southern Ireland towns that ends up in all the tour books. It's got an old and bustling downtown and it's got a big castle. It would have been a good place to spend a day or two, but our visit was limited to a few hours in the middle of the day, half way between Cashel and the Wicklow Mountains.
I have to admit, I'm more intrigued by the older, medieval part of the story and the military and religious history, than I am by the more recent interior decorating schemes and the genealogy of rich people distantly related to Anne Boleyn. Maybe if we'd watched more Downton Abbey?
Tuesday, October 25, 2016
We didn't spend much time in Killarney National Park - enough to drive up through the hills and down past the lakes and to stop for a few pictures. We didn't do any of the normal tourist stuff, like visit castles or take horse and buggy rides, in Killarney itself. Mainly, we plotted the most direct course to Cashel, which involved the motorway by way of Cork. Not that we could see Cork through the rain.
This sign pretty much summed up our driving experience in Ireland!