October 2, 2012
Our next day started with another trip to Wicklow Heather for breakfast. When I last mentioned that our B & B hosts recommended this restaurant to us, I forgot to say they they actually owned it! They sent us over for a complimentary breakfast to fuel up for our big day ahead.
We loved Mike and Jean in their matching Lucky Charms gear that day. It might have also been the day we broke out our flashing shamrock pins. Nothing wrong with embracing the role of tourist!
It was hard for us to believe this was our fourth day in Ireland. We had already covered a lot of ground. Our trip started in Shannon on the western coast and we were now very close to the eastern coast and Dublin.
We had two objectives for our Tuesday: see something cool in the area and get into Dublin. Adam was in charge of choosing the “something cool” and decided on Powerscourt House, Gardens, and Waterfall.
Our navigating had been very smooth the days before, but we spent a chunk of our morning looking for Powerscourt. At one point we could see the waterfall from across a huge valley that we had no idea how to cross. We finally found Powerscourt House and Garden and started exploring.
The estate had a huge house, immaculate landscaping, ponds, and sculptures and reminded me of the Count of Monte Cristo mansion.
For good reason! As I was writing about this, I decided to search for more historical Powerscourt info. (Seriously, I don’t think I retain any historical facts from sight-seeing.)
Wikipedia informed me that the 2002 Count of Monte Cristo movie was filmed there!
Aaaaaah, I would have been freaking out a lot more if I knew that at the time! Here’s where Edmond Dantes made his grand entrance with the fireworks and hot air balloon.
After finding out about the movie, I told David and he said everyone had talked about that when we were there. Apparently I was lost in thought or playing with my camera when that information was shared. In any case, it makes me happy that we visited a scene from a great movie.
We had a nice walk through the gardens which were gorgeous and really covered a large area. We saw the Pepperpot Tower, Dolphin Pond (only sculptured dolphins), and a very interesting cemetery for family pets. We stopped in the Japanese garden for photo-ops, both lovey-dovey and the brotherly version of lovey-dovey.
My outfit is a good indicator of how cold it was while we were in Ireland. Temps were usually in the 40s so I was totally fine when I layered a few sweaters, a scarf, and gloves for my always-frigid fingers. Most days it rained but never for too long.
After we we were done garden-viewing, we got directions to Powerscourt Waterfall — the highest waterfall in Ireland. The waterfall gave an incredible view so we spent lots of time oggling and taking pictures.
Majestic, right? Not too many places warrant that adjective, but it fits Powerscourt Waterfall. The colors, sheer scale, and mesmerizing water had us captivated.
After the waterfall, the rest of the day fell to David and my direction. We had spent a lot of time before the trip finding out how to travel into Dublin, where to stay, and what to see. We kept hearing that driving in Dublin would be really overwhelming and dangerous for visitors. We decided we would leave our rental car in Bray and take the 30-minute train ride into Dublin.
In Bray, we dropped off our car in the safest parking area we could find. Immediately after doing so we decided that probably wasn’t safe enough.
We were able to find an enclosed hotel parking lot with an old man working as guard. The brick walls, a tip to the guard, and his reassuring smile made us feel better about leaving our car and extra luggage as we trekked into Dublin.
Getting into Dublin was the biggest pace-changer of the trip. All the sudden we were on foot with 2 days of clothes, in a city bigger and busier than any other in the country. My picture-taking went down drastically because we were bustling through crowded streets and watching for where to turn next.
Thankfully David and I had studied the Dublin maps carefully and knew the game plan and how to get around. To maximize our time, we immediately saw some sights after arriving in Dublin’s Connolly train station.
The big advantage of visiting Dublin was seeing many sites related to Irish history. First up, we visited the Irish Literature Museum. We ducked into the museum, got refuge from the rain, and ambled around quietly with our headsets. For a country of less than 7 million, the number of great Irish writers and their influence is incredible.
Our next historical stop was the General Post Office.
The General Post Office has been part of big moments in Irish history. The building was used as headquarters for leaders of the Easter Uprising of 1916. Patrick Pearse read the independence proclamation from the Post Office steps. When we visited, we could see bullet holes from the Easter Uprising and civil war of 1922. Because of these historical ties, the Post Office continues to symbolize Irish nationalism.
At this point our feet were tired and our backpacks were getting a little heavy on our shoulders. We needed to find a place to stay. A huge convention was in town which had us hopping around the city with no available rooms.
Eventually a hotel was able to offer us a room right in the Temple Bar District. If you know Dublin, you know Temple Bar is right in the middle of all the action. For those that don’t know, Temple Bar is boutiques and galleries by day, crazy pub and club-hopping partiers by night. Staying in this central location made the next two days really easy for our sight-seeing.
We felt happy to have a place to stay, but our rooming was hugely downgraded from the cozy and plush B & B’s that we had been staying in. We were given the keys to not a hotel room but an apartment on a side alley. To be honest, the apartment was small, seedy, and not totally clean-feeling.
But we made it, and we were right in the middle of Temple Bar! We settled in that night as a very tired bunch. We locked as many locks on our door as we could and dreamed about our next day of bustling around Dublin.