Saturday, November 2, 2013

Ireland, Last Day: Into the Wicklow Hills

We spent our first full day in Ireland exploring Dublin; we had only one more full day before our flight home, so we opted to take a bus tour to see as much as possible on this day. We found ourselves on the bus with a group of travel bloggers who were in Dublin for a conference on, guess what? Travel blogging, of course. There were people on the bus from all over the world--Germany, Australia, Dubai, New Zealand, England, Sweden, Ukraine, and of course the US. We were a motley crew, but all of us were there for the same reason--all had limited time and wanted to see a bit of the country before they went back to work, to home, or to their conference.

We took the bus south out of Dublin, and it was a long, long way before we left the city behind. It is difficult for me to really grasp the size of large cities like this; but finally we were in less populated places. As we traveled our driver, Dennis, kept up a running stream of banter and information about the places we were passing. The day was gray and overcast, not promising for what was promised as the 'Into the Wilds" tour.

We drove through Killiney, where the driver pointed in the general direction of the Celtic singer Enya's home the former Victoria Castle (bought in 1997 and renamed Manderley by Enya because she loved the novel Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier). Members of the pop Irish group U2 also had homes along this "south by the sea" route, we learned. After about 45 minutes on the road, we reached our first destination: The Forty Foot, a small stretch of picturesque beach at Sandycove. The Forty Foot was once reserved for men only, but today anyone can swim there.
 And indeed, on the day of our early October visit, people were swimming! The temperature was a brisk 65 degrees, a bit chilly to my thinking but our driver said that the water here, which is warmed by the Gulf Stream, was the warmest it had been all year.

 Sandycove is also the home of Martello Tower, where James Joyce lived for a time, and where he set the opening of his book Ulysses. You can see the tower looming in the background here. I did not walk over to see it, because I was enjoying just being by the water too much.

Tell me, would you walk away from this view? I couldn't tear myself away.

As we drove off, I noticed something very odd. Palm trees. In Ireland?? Yes, because of the Gulf Stream this area enjoys a climate mild enough for palm trees. 

 Another surprise awaited us at our morning coffee stop at Avoca Kilmacanogue. This shop was located on the grounds of the old Jameson estate (they of the Irish whiskey-making fame) and featured extensive gardens with unusual plants--such as this giant California redwood. 
 I have never seen a redwood before, and always assumed I'd need to go to California to see one! The tree's exterior is the oddest thing--it feels spongy to the touch. This is the rear of the Fern Cafe where we had our coffee.
And this is what I had with my tea (no coffee for me--I'd learned my lesson about coffee on this trip)--the most delicious fruit tart with cream.

A view of just one small part of the gardens.

I am not sure where I took this next photo, but it may have been as we passed through Enniskerry. We saw many lovely little villages on this tour, but had no time to stop at any of them. What a pity. I could have spent days exploring any one of them.

After our morning stop, we headed up into the hills--and into the rain. More about that part of the trip in my next post.

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.

1 comment:

Nance said...

is that Larry, tree hugging? I would have been right there too, taking the measure of that Redwood. Good stories, Sue. Great adventures. I am enjoying your trip and travels.

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