Wednesday, July 5th: Gravestones Galore
We checked out from Brigit's, mourned the loss of her wonderful breakfasts, and headed out to Baltinglass Abbey, our first scheduled site. We found it without much trouble, and met folks from British Columbia looking for their ancestors who were buried there. Then we got lost about five times trying to get to Glendalough!
There are five different routes out of Hackettown - we took all of them before we found one that would work. We missed the correct direction, and took a smaller road than we intended. It was very scenic, but very… lonely. At one point, concerned at our direction, we stopped a couple of men out hillwalking. Their map was much better than ours, and showed that we were going in the right direction, just taking the scenic route of sheep paths. This is new?
Finally we found Laragh, and drove through it to Glendalough. I have been to this valley and abbey twice before, and each time was touched by the serenity of the place. That serenity was hard-pressed to make itself felt this time. That may have had to do with the hordes of tour buses that descended upon the place on a regular basis. We were able to get out and explore the areas a little bit, and I tried to find the spot I had photographed my last trip there (my best selling shot). Then some rain started coming down rather hard, so we scooted into the hotel/restaurant next door. We had some sandwiches and ice cream. T's mint chocolate chip ice cream was great, dairy fresh. My sandwich was dry and not very satisfying. However, it being 3pm, we had little choice in our fare.
On our way through Enniscorthy, we came across some roadworks. Nothing new there, but the very attractive, very tan, shirtless young man directing traffic was very comical, as he tried to direct a tourist who had started driving through the one-lane opening when he shouldn't. The man tried to get them to back up, using body language, while they tried to execute a three-point turn instead. K got a picture, and then he saw that she was doing this and posed for us.
We headed up to Powerscourt Falls and House/Gardens, but found the turn to the House/Gardens first. We went up the long, scenic drive through golf course fields to the parking lot. There was a huge Home Depot-style garden center next to the parking area. We went up to the house, which looked fabulous. Swimming upstream against more Italian tourist children (we could not escape them!) we went into the house to get tickets, to discover that the house itself is mostly unrestored (due to a fire over 20 years ago!). The only part restored is a ballroom, where they have an AV presentation. However, the gardens were lovely, so we went to explore them.
There are many little gardens in addition to the central formal gardens. Japanese, 'dolphin pool', etc. - it is well worth a couple hours to wander. I loved the walled flower garden to the right (as you look out the back of the house). Also the roses in the rose garden were exquisite. There is a little tower near the Japanese gardens on the left side as well, and Unicorn statues near the pond in the middle.
On to Dublin, the fair city where the girls are so pretty and the traffic is terrible!
We were closing in on the city, and crossed a river - thinking it was the Liffey, we thought we had to turn around, as our B&B was on the southside, near Trinity College. But no, it was a smaller canal, and we still had a while to go. Finally we found the street we needed to be on, and where we needed to go - Dame Street. Alas, we couldn't turn right there, it was a one-way street. Only buses and taxis were allowed in. Since we didn't have the equipment to morph into one of these magical vehicles, we found our way around the area, down several more one-way streets. We came out right next to a pub, and Lo and behold! It was O'Neill's! Knowing there were a couple pubs named O'Neill's, I asked the guy standing in front if this was O'Neill's Victorian Pub, and it was. Yay!
We had to circle around again to get parking, but we did. Our room was up several part-flights of stairs, (46 stairs total - we counted!) but the room itself was very large, had a TV (yay!) and three single beds. The bathroom was decent sized, and the traffic noise wasn't too bad. The buildings across the street seemed to be either abandoned or at least vacant, so no one would be spying on us. We had to keep the windows open as it was once again hot and stuffy. Have the Irish never heard of fans?
We went down to the pub for dinner, and found out the trick to turning up the volume on the TV (which was mounted high on the wall in the corner). There are volume controls under the mounting, so we had to push it back to get at them, while perched on a chair. The ceilings in this place were very high as it WAS a Victorian household at one time.
K had the filo lamb pastry for dinner, while T and I had burgers. We all had drinks! The food was ok, but not fabulous. The World Cup was on (France v. Portugal) and our Czech waitress was very nice. She mentioned she and her boyfriend were working in Dublin to save enough to buy a house in the Czech Republic.
After dinner we went on a search for soda, water, and an internet café to check our email and send reports of our arrival home. Finally we found one several blocks away, though it could have doubled for a sauna. Every internet café we went to was incredibly hot and stuffy inside.
Back to the B&B for the nights' sleep. It took me a very long time to sleep over the traffic, as it never really stopped, though it did slow. Big trucks came through all through the night, though, and they were loud enough to startle me awake through my earplugs. This wasn't a problem later nights, but that first night killed me. If you rent here, ask for a room facing the courtyard!