Thursday, December 15, 2011

Run Wild...

For our last day in Ireland, we let ourselves be talked into going on a tour of County Wicklow, south of Dublin. The couple we stayed with in Dublin said it was a gorgeous area, and other guests they have had really loved the Wild Wicklow tour. It was a bit more spendy than we loved, but we figured it would be the best way to get out of Dublin and see a bit of Irish countryside in a more exciting way than just getting the train to a small town nearby and poking around a bit.

Andy and I had never been on an organised tour before this, but then again, we had never been on holidays overseas either - most of our travel is either within driving distance of Townsville or work-related. So our lack of going On Tour is partially based on snobbery and partially based on lack of opportunity.And while we didn't love the groupiness of the tour, and the constant chatter of being on a tour, we did really appreciate getting shown around and seeing things that, if we had taken a self-drive option, would likely have been completely outside of our radar. So my review of the tour itself is tempered with that appreciation, despite the four annoying Kentucky tourists who we couldn't seem to get away from.

The day started with a trip to the seaside part of Dublin. We stopped for a few minutes at DunLaoghaire Harbour - pronounced "Dun Leery" and apparently mispronounced by Hilary Swank in the film P.S. I love you, which I haven't seen.

We drove past gates that apparently protect the homes of Ireland's rich and famous - Bono and Enya, before being let off the bus for nearly an hour at a very expensive shop/cafe. I find shopping terribly boring and neither Andy nor I wanted coffee, so we amused ourselves in the garden, instead.

Back on the bus, we drove up into the mountain range and stopped to admire the peat, covered in remnants of heather, and the mountain lakes.

We drove a bit further on and had a whiskey overlooking Lough Tay, known colloquially as Guinness Lake - part of the estate of the Guinness family, the most recent resident of whom had sand shipped from California to make a beach, also transforming the brown peaty water lake into the spitting image of a pint of guinness.

We stopped for lunch at a "traditional Irish pub", which must cater to hundreds of tour-participants a day. I had some veggie soup, which was meh. It started raining while we ate. It was still raining when we got to Glendalough, which was a shame, because I would have liked to spend lots of time looking around.

The site has been a monastic settlement since about 600AD, and this round tower was built before the 12th Century.

According to our tour guide, who may not be an academically rigorous source of information, Ireland's round towers inspired the Brothers Grimm to write their story Rapunzel.

Also on the site are some old churchy ruins.

And a sprawling cemetery.

Our last stop was the Upper Lake at Glendalough.

The swans are friendly (hungry).

Andy touched the water, as he does.

And we walked up to a pretty waterfall.

And were blinded by how green everything is - so many shades of green.

The emerald isle indeed.


Dee said...

That was nice. Loved all the green photos! I am a bit conflicted about Ireland, as a teen I felt a deep shame in my Irish heritage because of "the troubles" at that time. It was just beyond my understanding (and still is). Still, I am intrigued by the place. Don't know if I am up for such a cold and damp holiday though!

Hannah said...

Ah, one thing I *hate* about organised tours is the eating optiosn they try and force on you! I remember during my Grand Canyon tour (in which we spent 6 hours at factor outlets and 1 at the Grand Canyon kafhnskbfsmabfsdmbfnmsbfmnsdbfn!!!!) we kept getting dropped off at gross Asian buffet restaurants and given "discount vouchers". Commission much? My friend and I never failed to go in search of something else, and I still maintain eating four travel cups of Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Lucky Charms from a petrol station was the better option.

Also.. pretty! Huge tree! Yay!