Glendalough and Kilkenny

And while it seemed like no time had passed, I was already on the last leg of my trip. Mom and I flew to Dublin last night and explored downtown. So today we decided to head out of the city.

As y’all will remember, I just adored Glendalough, and I thought my mom would too.  So I found us a day trip that goes to Glendalough and Kilkenny, which I hadn’t been to yet. It was nice to see Glendalough when it was green and not covered in snow, and I particularly enjoyed the fact that there was a little band playing outside our lunch spot.

Our next stop was the Wicklow Gap, way up in the Wicklow Mountains.  We passed waterfalls, reservoirs, bogs, and spectacular panoramic views.

Our final stop was Kilkenny.  The main reason for stopping was to visit Kilkenny Castle which we did, but we managed to get a few other museums and some town wandering in too.

Mom loves old houses that are furnished from the time they were built, so we went to Rothe House & Garden.  Built between 1594 and 1610, it was the home of the renowned merchant, landowner and Mayor of Kilkenny City, John Rothe Fitz Piers, his wife Rose Archer, and their eleven children, and is really worth a visit.

And we finally made it to the castle.  We did a tour inside, and wandered around the massive (and gorgeous) gardens, before heading back to Dublin.

 

 

 

 

Glendalough

Two weeks after I arrived in Dublin, a group of us decided to head outside of the city to Glendalough. This was my first time travelling with this particular bunch and I wasn’t sure what to expect.

Here’s what I did know. Glendalough is home to a monastic settlement, is called “the valley of the two lakes”, and is located in the Wicklow Mountains National Park. So I figured we’d be doing lots of walking.

There’s a pretty cheap bus that goes there and back daily, as it’s actually only an hour and a half from Dublin. Unsurprisingly, the drive was stunning, even in January.

There was a short walk to our hostel from the bus stop, and that’s when I got my first glimpse of the monastic settlement and mountains. I also got a glimpse of snow!  I had thought I’d left that all behind in Toronto, but was sorely mistaken.

It was still early in the morning when we arrived at the hostel, so we had time to figure out our plans for the day.  That’s when I discover that these Canadian friends of mine are from Vancouver and enjoy climbing mountains in their free time.  Yeah, this was going to be an adjustment.

Before we started the hike, we decided to check out the monastery. Thetower that is prominently featured below is called the Round Tower.  However there are no doors, so it seemed appropriate to rename it Rapunzel’s Tower.

And after I had stalled as long as possible, the climb began. I keep calling it a climb instead of a hike, because the chosen path was a 9km hill walk that included 600 stairs over 2 mountains and was just a dirt path on the way down.

I as surprised to find it only took us 3 hours and that I only fell twice.  And as much as I’ve complained about it (before, during, and after), it provided some of the best views ever.  Completely worth it.

You’ll see a little white line in some of the photos below. That would be the snow-lined path we climbed.  Not bad for someone who considered their fitness level to be under beginner.

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The top!

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Celebrating!

And then we had the extra fun task of getting down.  At first there were wooden boards to follow, but eventually they stopped and we had to find the best path on our own.

We even found some little ruins, which provided a much needed rest.

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Eventually we made it all the way back to our hostel, only to discover there was no food.  And because it’s a small town in rural Ireland there were no streetlights on the road we had to use to walk into town. So by the time we left dinner, it was pitch black.  Let’s just say that trip back to the hostel ended up being a great adventure that I shall always remember fondly.

The next day I was SORE. There were 3 hikes planned, the first to St. Kevin’s Church and the surrounding cemetery, but the other 2 hikes were also on the easier side, so I did all 3. It’s definitely a beautiful place.

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Our first overnight trip together was a roaring success, and I’m so glad it happened at such a beautiful locale.