Saturday, May 11, 2013

May 10th Dublin to Kilkenny

We made it into Dublin following just a 6 hour flight. (didn’t feel unbearably long. realized that our layover was longer than our flight).
 Made a quick stop at the information desk for heritage searches, maps, and over-all “game-plan” type an area. I wanted to take her advice when she said “get to your hotel, have a cup of tea, and tink it tru” J I am so excited.
    Unfortunately, we did not get to do that. We rented from the company Avis a midsized sedan for us to drive while going around Ireland. Thankfully, I am not 25 and do not have an international drivers license, so I do not get to partake in the fun and joy of getting to learn to drive on the other side of the road.
      With a GPS and maps everywhere, we made way out of the city as quickly as possible. The round-abouts and traffic only led to a few missed turns and wrong directions. Of course with 3 other people shouting directions and reading signs, you can imagine the amount of confusion created. I had my face pressed to the window watching the beautiful green landscape…. And that was just enough support for me to knock out.
    Lunch was at a little town we passed through, Roundtree. We had a much needed lunch at a café. I ordered fish cakes, which were potato based and had some smoked salmon folded neatly on top, along with some tarter-like sauce.
 I could not resist getting a  scone, with jam and cream. I had wanted coffee (as in, a whole pot..not a cup) since getting off the plane. By this time, tea seemed perfect with the scone. I figured I wouldn’t bother guessing the approach to said scone and jam (current, or strawberry!), and instead asked our waitress. One cuts the scone down the middle, as it is slightly large. Then put Jam and cream on top. She does it one half at a time, others make it a sandwich (but that is more messy).   I see a potential tradition to be started here in my breakfasts…


Glendalough was our next stop, an old monastery found in a glacial valley in County Wicklow. It’s in he Wicklow mountain national park, and there are a few stone buildings nestled in a field, along with a still standing tower. Across a fast, shallow river were trails that wound up and around the countryside. We did not hike the many trails available at the national park since the afternoon was rapidly vanishing.
                 As badly as I wanted to go exploring along those paths, my one leg and hip had tightened up during the flying/driving/waiting.  So all wandering today has been done with a bit of gimp (but not because of my knees like before!!! So it’s all okay. Or will be with a bit of stretching.
                We took a break in a parking lot next to a church and cemetery. By break what I mean is, Dad pulled over and stated that he needed to stop here for a bit, reclined the chair, and in under 60seconds the entire family was asleep in the car.  It was a very good idea.
                Continued driving until we arrived at the Kilkenny tourist Hostel. It was a delightful red door, with the knob right in the center. Hindsight, I wish I had taken consistent pictures of doors, because there seem to be all kinds of interesting ones when I leave home. This place is very nice, with a full Kitchen and area of tables and chairs to cook and eat. There is a comfortable room with a little cheery fire in it, and a shelve of books. The reception lady is wonderful and offered all kinds of suggestions on pubs and truly good places to go.
                We went to the grocery store for dinner and breakfast supplies. We tossed a salad, but I also a delicious dense wheat bread that I put Irish sharp cheddar cheese on, which was the best part of the meal. Dessert was chocolate covered macaroons and hazelnut kinder bars. Not too bad at all!
                The Evening:
9:30 (just now dark outside!)
10:00 determinedly headed out to find someplace interesting to drink
10:15 despite chilly breeze, decide to find a unique little place called the Hold in the Wall the lady at the reception desk recommended.
10:35 after passing up many lively places, we found the little sign that had an arrow and the name Hole In the Wall. It was rather an accurate name. We went down a narrow, low ceiling-ed tunnel. I led bravely with my pack following close behind. Around a bend we found ourselves in a courtyard and we could hear music! Coming into the little narrow entryway, we saw the words “door to bar” written on a unobvious little door. We cracked it open and in an area roughly the size of my sister’s dorm room at Penn State… there was a pair of men singing and playing music, 6 customers squeezed in along the sides, and the owner/bar tender with glasses and a worn ball cap perched on his head in a little bar area. Well, people slid over and shuffled around so that there was room for us to squeeze in and perch upon stools, or lean against the side of the bar (out of the way of course, due to the music!). Mike, the friendly guy behind the bar was great at incorporating everyone who was in the little room. He handed out music makers (tambourines, shakers, and clappers) while the two guys up front played tunes from Ireland, then ones that we would recognize too. Including the best version I have ever heard of “This land is Your land” …seriously, I don’t know why we stop singing this in grade school it was full of spirit and beautiful. Then, “I come from the Land Down Under” from Australia. And (this was the most fun) Johnny Cash! (Folsom Prison Blues). Loved it. 
      They switched back to Irish music, I could have stayed there all night, squished into my corner next to mom, by the right elbow of one of the music players. The beams that supported the ceiling were hand-hewn wooden beams. The bar itself was wood that had obviously been used for many things, and had marks that hinted at all the stories. The building had been a hotel in the late 1500s, then became a bar in the 1700s.   We left, and after a quick, unsatisfactory stop at the more famous, bigger, pub-Kytelers, famous for the witch who had killed 4 of her husbands before fleeing to England- we went to bed. 

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