The next stop on our spring break was Dublin for St. Paddy’s Day! We stayed with another one of our friends studying at the University College of Dublin. Sadly, we were only in Dublin for less than 24 hours. Even though the St. Paddy’s Day parade and Temple Bar area were a lot of fun, we wished we had the chance to see the rest of the city without the crowds.
After Dublin we took an hour-long bus ride to Wicklow, a small rural city on the coastline south of Dublin. Even though it is in such close proximity to Ireland’s capital, the city has endless green fields. Imagine a city 30 minutes outside of New York made up solely of farmland. This would never be the case! I was excited to get away from the city, away from the crowds, and see the rural side of Ireland.
We stayed at the Knockree Youth Hostel, which is normally used by hikers. There is a hiking trail that goes from Dublin to somewhere far, far away because it takes about 20 miles a day to complete it in however many weeks. I wish I could explain it better, but the hikers we talked to were all really vague and just said it is becoming a more popular activity among Europeans.
Anyways, the hotel was in the middle of nowhere and hosted the most spectacular views of rural Ireland. The views reminded me of Tuscany, only much greener. The first day in Wicklow we visited Glendalough National Park. The park has two lakes, mountains, a waterfall, and is home to the ruins of an old monestary run by St. Kevin. Besides the prevailing Irish winds, the park was stunning and such a nice change from the bustling cities we continue to visit. After the park we walked to The Wicklow Heather to have an Irish lunch. Of course, we ended lunch with Irish coffee and it was delicious.
To get to the park and back, we called Kevin the taxi driver. Kevin is from the area and was very informative. I learned that Wicklow has a lot of sheep because the grounds are too hilly and rocky for cattle and horses to live on. He also explained that daffodils are in season there and are all over the city. Daffodils are my favorite flower because we used to pick them from the woods by my old house in Maryland when I was very young. On our way to the park, he even pointed out Bono’s manager’s mansion as we passed by it.
As a little background to the next part of our trip, my friend Rachel’s parents got married in Wicklow. They both thought Ireland was beautiful so they went to a pastor in the area and he connected them to a local family that helped planned their wedding. So the next day we were picked up by that woman’s daughter to tour Wicklow.
She took us to the Powerscourt waterfall, the Avoca country store (mom this would be your heaven!), and then to the Nanna’s house for lunch. Nanna, who planned Rachel’s parents’ wedding, lives on a hillside overlooking the entire city and coastline of Wicklow. The pictures do it zero justice because it was foggy out when we went. After enjoying homemade jam, scones, and tea, we were off to see more of the area. The daughter took us to her home on a dairy farm, the Irish Sea, the Avoca wool-weaving mill (the oldest in Ireland), the church where Rachel’s parents got married, and finally back to Nanna’s for dinner. She made us the most amazing traditional Irish dinner of chicken, mashed potatoes, mashed turnips, cabbage, and tea. The turnips in Ireland are incredible. The family was not only adorable, but beyond nice. I am so thankful that they showed us around and were such wonderful hosts. Wicklow was such a surreal experience.
On our way back to the airport from Wicklow, we managed to squeeze in a visit at the Guinness Storehouse back in Dublin’s city center. I am beyond happy we got this opportunity because it was one of the highlights. We arrived at the storehouse before it opened and they let us go through the entire tour on our own. We literally had the entire five-story building to ourselves, including the Gravity Bar up top. The Gravity Bar has almost a complete 360-degree view of the entire city of Dublin, including glimpses of the Wicklow mountains in the distance! We admired the views while sipping on our fresh pints of Guinness, which is easily my new favorite beer.
When In Rome
Two of my most cherished hobbies go hand-in-hand. Writing is my favorite way to reflect after traveling to a new country. I have kept this blog ever since I studied in Rome to share my travels with families and friends. I hope you enjoy learning about my experiences and getting a sense for my writing skills. If you have any questions, please reach out!