Ireland: day 1 - 3
So, after a lot of planning... ehm... not that lot. After some days of planning, here I land in Dublin a Friday night, at 9 PM, heading to a B&B in Malahide.
This is how I started this 18 days holidays: getting left by a taxi driver on the wrong Malahide Road... some 10 km away from my B&B. This is how carefully I planned my holiday. Luckily, after some walking, a second taxi collected me and so I managed to arrive were I would have spent the night. Rockstar!
I've been thinking of visiting Ireland since I was 18 and I first heard the songs from Clannad (I know, too commercial kind of music... no?!?). I've been wanting to visit this country so bad that I never talk about it with anybody and never planned it. But here I am (still I haven't planned it, but this is a different story).
So, Friday night at Malahide, Pebble Bed&Breakfast. I spent the night watching TV (it's a novelty for me! I have no TV in Amsterdam!): The Hurt Locker. Liked.
Saturday morning I was planning to visit Malahide Castle and then take a train to Dublin, but the weather helped me in opening the skies and letting fall the national amount of rain due in a year. So, the B&B owner drove me to the Train Station and I took a train to Dublin, Tara Street (that happens to be few hundreds of meters away of my hotel: Arlington Hotel. The hotel is conveniently located near to the Temple Bar area, so I know that I will at least see it from across the river.
Gotten there, below rain, and missed it twice. I was, obviously, complaining that the hotel was not correctly advertised on the street, but the hard truth is that there is the entrance, a statue on the outside and a huge window saying: "Arlington Hotel". I was simply forgetting to look around while I was walking. It's 11 AM, so my room is not ready (should I complain?), so I left my luggage and headed to see the wonderful surroundings. The surroundings are soaking wet. I decided that the Archeological Museum of Ireland would have been a nice stop. I stopped there 3 hours.
Time for a coffee and a muffin and my room is ready (in the meanwhile I also checked where the car rental is for the next day). I unpacked, checked the bed and fell asleep. I woke up at 7, in time to stroll around Temple Bar and then chose a pub 2 kilometres from there to have my dinner: Lombard Pub. A stew cooked with Guinness. Good Idea.
I went back "home", watched some snooker and got to sleep.
Sunday started renting the car, and then getting out of Dublin (driving on the right, no, the left, no rig... LEFT!). No real plan. Simply go south, reach Wicklow and have breakfast/lunch there, and then head towards Glendalough and my other B&B: Lough Dan House. That, obviously, I didn't knew precisely were it was.
Getting out of Dublin was easy, driving to Wicklow too, finding a place to eat... well... took some time. But at the end, after having visited the local Castle (on a cliff on the sea...) I ate scrambled eggs and smoked salmon.
And it was time to finally head to Glendalough. It took some time that too. I had no detailed map, only a generic map of Ireland, and so I went to Arklow and then it was time to improvise.
I eventually got to Glendalough, discovered that it wasn't the right place (thanks to HERE maps on my mobile... that you can download!! I downloaded Scotland... ehm, Ireland when I was back home) and got to Roundwood, than to Oldbridge and the to Lough Dan House.
I was supposed to be camping next to the house, but I took the afternoon to walk around, through the thickness of a wood in which I got lost, down to the lake, and find a different spot.
The surroundings are amazing, there are fields, woods, and then the lake. It wasn't a clear day, but the sun would appear sometimes and the place it's beautiful.
So... time to pack everything, finally putting the tent, sleeping bag, mattress and everything needed for a night's camping in the backpack and head to the lake. By the time I got there the sky was covered in clouds, so I simply decided to quickly build camp and then eventually explore the valley.
I chose the spot wisely, but it wasn't a difficult choice. There were the ruins of a village and one of the buildings happened to have a wonderful grass mantle inside, a door, walls 1 metres high and be high enough that even a small flood would have not bothered me. I found a thorny branch from a fir to "close" the door, and avoid any sheep to check-in and visit me coming night time.
I added a little "porch" with my poncho (I had to procure a long stick to keep it high enough to provide some room for me sitting outside) and the camp was settled.
I then explored the valley, navigating the bogs, ponds and creeks around, reaching John's Oaks, a spot so renown to earn a signpost on the local map. It's worth it. The river hurling down rocks, oaks around in a little clear of the firs, the light slowly getting darker.
It was time to go home, read something while eating "dinner" (apples, carrots and orange...) and the rain started to fall. At some point I retired inside the tent, crawled inside my sleeping bag and read some more. And the slept, fearing the cold, that eventually got me around 4 in the morning, but I simply covered myself with my jersey and it was enough. Other notable thing: at 1 I woke up... to pee... and there were light all around: strong light! The full moon, a clear sky, the whole valley lit up. Amazing.