I’ve read about Glendalough on Wikitravel before coming to Ireland, but surely I didn’t know it was a national park and a huge hiking area. I rather imagined it full of ruins and old churches and stuff.
I left the ship with my backpack, but not confident in whether I was going or not. But the local vintage market, where I wanted to go first, wasn’t open until 12 pm, and the only bus to Glendalough left at 11:30. So I just kinda hopped on. Met a part of the Schushardt family (9 of them on the ship) at the bus stop, and they later gave me half a bottle of water and a sandwich to take with, because there was no store in the park and I didn’t pack anything. Life-saviors!
Glendalough was… Oh my god. 2 kilometers to the trail. 9 kilometers of the trail. 2 kilometers back. The trail I picked, against the recommendations of the visitor center’s guy (he probably thought I wouldn’t make it) was called “Spinc and Glenealo Valley”, grade – hillwalk, time – 3hrs 30mins, meters to climb – 380. Just for the record, I had no hiking shoes, only my thin-soiled sneakers… Well.
I also started the trail from the side opposite to where everyone started. Turned out to be the best choice! First I was just strolling down the lake among the pine trees. Then it got rocky. Then it got super rocky. At last, by the ruins of the old miners’ village, it started to go up, and up, and up. The path was narrow and steep, and there were people walking towards me all the time, so I just jumped off to where the mountain stream was and started climbing the blocks of stone and the little waterfalls on the way. My mom probably wouldn’t have loved the sight of me jumping from stone to stone in the middle of the mountain stream in my slippery shoes (got one wet in the lake earlier, so whatever), or climbing up the cliffs by. At last, when the waterfall surrendered, I found myself on a glade, and the first thing I saw was the judging stare of a mountain goat chewing his grass nearby. There was a bunch of them further up, and I carefully backed off – who knows, after all, what’s going on inside these little skulls of theirs. Climbed another hill and got back on the trail. It lead me to the top of the mountain, and it was hella high!
The view was marvelous, breathtaking. I felt like a character from Lord of the Rings, remember, when they’re just starting their way to Moria in the book? Tried to sing the Old Walking Song, but forgot most of the words, so ended up with “Oh what are you doing, and where are you going? Your ponies need shoeing, the river is flowing…”
The air was so fresh that it made me dizzy, willing to take a nap on one of the cliffs, but I had to get back to the bus by half past five, as it was the only one going back to Dublin that day. The wooden stairs that led me up and down had these curved nails sticking out of them, supposedly to help the hikers move. But mine weren’t hiking boots, and my feet felt every single goddamn nail… The stairs got shorter, and the trail went down, down, down to the woods. The sun was starting to set, and the woods were pretty gloomy, with all the ground covered by brownish pine needles. So many steps! I was glad I didn’t start from that side, because climbing the rocks was at least challenging, while steps just kill you. I made it to the waterfall, the one marked on the map, and I was hoping to see something big and loud and impressive. Nah, just a little creek. Found clover nearby.
I checked my watch. 3,5 hours hike completed in 2,5 hours. So in total, when I reached the bus stop, I was walking for 3,5 hours. To say I was exhausted was to say nothing. Every inch of my body hurt. Every. Single. One. I wasn’t fit for that.
On the way to the bus noticed familiar bushes by the road. Wow, huckleberries!
Got to the visitor’s center with my tongue and lips violet-black, and my right hand looking as if I just killed someone.
I fell on the bus seat, praying for some Semester at Sea person to walk in and give me water. At that very moment the girl landed next to me and asked if I was from SAS. “Do you have water”, said I. She shared water and snacks with me. Sweet heaven, food and water. Her name was Lindsey.
Well, we ended up doing the Literary Pub Crawl, led by the local actors, and then going to some pub and having pizza with an Argentinian guy we met on the tour. What a day, dare I say!
Back to Dublin
I’ve been a terrible tourist in Dublin: I didn’t go to any of the museums. In the morning me and Stephanie headed to Trinity College, I was so eager to see – nooo, not the Book of Kells! I swear! I just wanted to have a glimpse at the old library! Well, in I went, paid 8 euros… Seriously people, don’t do this. It’s just not worth it. The book of Kells is just laying there, and it’s small and surrounded by people, and it won’t give you any impression if you’re not an expert. And in the library all shelves were fenced off by ropes, and there’s absolutely nothing to do but to sign about the goode olde days when the Library was still in use, because it’s truly awesome.
We proceeded to the shopping mall (these cupcakesss!) – after Glendalough the necessity of buying hiking boots was too obvious, and Steph needed new sports gloves. We only had a few hours, so basically I drove Stephanie’s wheelchair, and we were constantly speeding. Too many pedestrians in Dublin;)
We circled the Grafton street and surroundings in search of a good outdoors gear store, popped in a couple of vintage stores (got away with 4 beautiful deals at one of them). Had awesome lunch with some Guinness (oh, I drank a whole pint the night before – that’s quite an achievement for a non-drinker) and finally found the right store. When I came down with a box it was 17:30, ship time being 18:00… We were lucky to find a cab right around the corner! Swiped our cards at 17:55.
To sum up: I loved Dublin and I loved Ireland and I loved the accent and I loved the Irish. Everyone I met there was amazing: Ena, our shuttle drivers, one of them singing the Molly Malone song to us, the actors leading the literary tour, the guys at both train stations who let me on with only a receipt of a ticket because the ticket itself got blown away by the Howth wind; the guy who worked at the port and lost his tooth at a Pink Floyd concert 4 days earlier because of the pig they launched into the audience; all the waiters and barmen and shop assistants. I want to come back. No: I WILL come back.
Go raibh maith agat and slán go fóill, Eire!