Ireland - Day 5
Day 5 - August 20, 2018
My last day, wahh! Unfortunately Katlynn had to go back to work today (Monday), so what else is there to do other than schedule….you guessed it….another tour! hahahaha. On this tour, we are visiting Kilkenny, Wicklow Mountains, Glendalough, and the village of Annamoe to see a shephard work his sheep dog. Another day full of learning and sightseeing!
Departing from the same spot as before, we leave Dublin at 8:10am. On this trip, we are going to see a lot of the beautiful Irish countryside. We had seen a lot of the countryside on other tours and I have to say, it really is the best part of Ireland. There’s something so relaxing about driving on smooth roads looking out the window to see beautiful green land and mountains in the distance.
After a couple hours of driving, we pull up to Kilkenny Castle to park and hop off the bus. Once we get off, we have the option to stay with the guide for a tour or go on our own. I personally hate guided tours, so I wander off into the streets.
I walked the streets taking photos and window shopping but mostly trying to find the best place to get an Irish breakfast. Eventually I found The Playwright. It was one of the first bars I came across that had “Full Irish Breakfast” written on a chalkboard. By this time I was starving and couldn’t wait any longer to find a restaurant so I just went for it. I walk in and stood around unsure if I’m suppose to wait to be seated or seat myself. After standing there for 5 minutes a man finally tells me where to sit. I sit down, no menu. The waiter comes and asks what I’d like to eat so I ask if there is a menu. He says, “no, full breakfast or half breakfast” I order full breakfast, obvi. As I waited for my food, I watched hurling on the television while overhearing locals sitting at the bar greeting and chatting with each other.
The food comes and it’s a large plate full of eggs, ham, sausage, toast, beans, half a tomato, french fries, and some other stuff I’m still not sure of. It was really good! The Irish know how to serve up a mean breakfast. Service after being served wasn’t the greatest, I had to track the waiter down at the bar to pay. Good thing tips aren’t a thing here or he wouldn’t have gotten 20% (did I really just write that? I promise I’m typically a good tipper!)
After eating, I continue walking through Kilkenny before I have to get back to the bus. I stroll through the streets trying not to get lost. I only had myself to depend on today so I had to keep track of my steps. I make my way back to the castle with 20 minutes or so to spare, find a bench, and people watch…one of the greatest activities, lol.
Back on the bus, we travel to our next stop, the Wicklow Mountains. More specifically, we make a 20 minute stop to the Wicklow Gap. Being in the mountains and seeing all the trees and green was unbelievable. One our drive through the mountains to the gap, we cross the “PS, I Love You” bridge while also playing the theme song of the movie. At the time, I hadn’t seen the movie so none of this even made sense to me. But once I got home, I watched the movie. So now it all clicks!
The air was chilly and foggy, kind of ruining the pretty view of the gap, but it was still amazing. If you look at the photos I took below and then google the Wicklow Gap on a good day, it’s crazy how different it looks. It’s much more breathtaking on a clearer, sunny, day. 20 minutes go by and the bus honks…time to go!
We take a short drive to the heritage site that is Glendalough, which means Glen of Two Lakes. To give a visual, we pull up to a building that is the visitors center and a restaurant. Once you’re past that, you see some food trucks and an entryway into the Monastic City of Glendalough. A lot of history here. I walked around and took some photos of the ancient tombstones and buildings. After spending a short amount of time here, I started walking to the upper lake, which by the way takes like an hour to walk to. I think it took me a little under an hour but it seriously felt never ending. The walk to the upper lake wasn’t so bad though. A lot of nature, trees, and mountains. Even saw some wildlife.
There were two routes to take when walking to the two lakes. One that led to the lower lake first or the boardwalk way, which was had more turns and different kind of scenery but led to the upper lake first. I took the boardwalk way which then led into the other path. I arrive upon the upper lake and it is gorgeous. Nothing like seeing it in person, photos don’t do it justice. Again, it would have been nicer to see it on a sunny, clear day, but hey, I can’t complain. I spent a good amount of time here and took way too many photos, people watched, and sat and just admired the view.
I headed toward the lower lake shortly after this. The walk to the lower lake wasn’t terrible since it was downhill and not as curvy. It honestly wasn’t any different from any other lake I’ve been to. The only difference was that there were mountains surrounding it and not flat land. It was still really pretty though. I sat on a rock here briefly before walking back to the bus.
Everyone hops on the bus for a 10 minute drive to the foot of Wicklow Mountains. Well, almost everyone. We had a couple of people who didn’t make it in time so we left them while the tour guide waited behind. This time though, it was such a short drive that the bus came back for them. At the foot of the mountain is the village of Annamoe, Here we met the Cullens. The man of the house is a generational sheep farmer, with many generations ahead of him. He talked to the group about the logistics and facts about sheep farming. It was very interesting. Before we went to watch his Border Collie work, we got to hold a lamb….. a 40 lb. fluff ball. They were adorable.
Once everyone, who wanted to, finished holding the lambs, we moved on to where the sheep were. The sheep farmer briefed us on the sheep, the season, and the training process of the Border Collies. It’s quite a process with sheep farmers, but it was so intriguing because it’s a whole different world to me and I’m sure to most of the group too.
Watching the farmer communicate with his dog was amazing to see. He only commanded him with whistle sounds and one-word phrases. So how it worked was the dog would sprint up the mountain to where the sheep were and herd them down. As they were all running down the mountain, the dog would sprint in circles around the sheep so they stayed together.
After our tour of the sheep farm, we got back on the bus for an hour-ish drive back to Dublin. On our drive back, our tour guide blessed ours ears with his music. He brought a couple of his instruments on board and played us some Irish classics. He was actually very good. I think he said he had been playing since he was younger and had previously been in a wedding band.
Time went by quickly and we were back in Dublin. I hopped off the bus with plans to go meet my sister, Teddi, and her Brazilian friend Nicolas. The tricky thing now was I only could chat with her when I was on wifi. I had to scope out a popular area to stay connected to wifi while I figured out our plan. Once we set a plan, I asked a local which direction I needed to go. After being pointed in the right direction though, I knew my way back to the Luas. The plan was to meet them at the Luas stop we always got on to go home.
We caught up with each other and started walking around the city trying to find a place to eat. We walked in circles trying to find a place. Everything was so packed and I was so pass the point of hungry I didn’t even know what I wanted to eat. We were all pretty indecisive so it took forever to finally find a place. We tried The Temple Bar but it was hip to hip in there. We even walked through it and realized this wasn’t going to happen. We ended up going to a restaurant very similar to Flat Top Grill. It was decent and kind of overpriced but it was '“all you can eat” so it made sense.
After we ate dinner, we walked around downtown and found some fro yo. It was pretty chilly but I believe that frozen yogurt is an all weather kind of treat. We stood around outside on the block just eating and talking when this stranger approaches us asking if we were in Dublin learning English. Katlynn and I weren’t but Nicolas was. He ended up just walking around downtown with us until we went home. He was very friendly and completely harmless. He even did a chakra (energy) reading on Katlynn (photo near the end of the slideshow.) That was interesting…lol.
We ended the night pretty late for having to be up super early for my flight. We parted ways with this guy and headed to the Luas. Nicolas, Katlynn, and I all rode the Luas home together. He was a couple stops ahead of us so he got off first. He was really nice and friendly so I’m really glad I got to meet him.
Finally home, I still had some packing to do. I hate packing, especially if it’s to go home from a trip…it’s the absolute worst. I had to shove everything back into my carry on and get up early the next morning to catch a bus to the airport. Katlynn was nice enough to wake up earlier than usual for work to take me to the bus. Such a good little sis.
So sad to leave but I’m so happy we got to experience Ireland together. It was our first time overseas on vacation as adults without going on a vacation with our parents! I had a blast and I will never forget it. A lot of memories were made and I can’t wait to visit again, hopefully in the near future! As for now, I can’t wait for our next adventure together. The brainstorming has already begun!