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Chillin' in Co Wicklow

Written on: Monday August 10th, 2009

During the drive back to Dublin, I was contemplating what to do with my remaining week in the area.  My first thought was to head north to Belfast and experience a bit of Northern Ireland.  But to write the truth, I had been traveling for a long time, and it was getting to me a bit.  The last several nights hanging out with Dom and Damien were good, and the thought of staying with friends a little longer was comforting.  Fortunately for me, Damien offered that I stay with him and his wife for as long as I liked.  After all, he, too, had traveled the world and understood just how valuable a free bed and time with a friend could be.  So that said, I decided to join him in Co Wicklow, specifically the city of Bray, for the next week. 

The set up at Damien's was perfect.  He owned two adjacent houses, one of which was occupied by renters.  Fortunately, there was an empty room in that house available for me.  Little did I know just how hospitable Damien and his wife really were.  He gave me a key to both abodes and said to come over any time. 

Laundry, meals and comrodery were available at all hours of every day.  Damien was a very social individual, so it only seemed appropriate that when he mentioned he was having a quaint dinner party, his tennents were also invited.  As it turned out, the only attending tennant that evening was Triin, a fun girl from Estonia who had been living there for over two years.  An exquisite dinner was proceeded by seemingly endless embibing with Triin and Damien.  These guys certainly knew how to make a tired traveler feel welcome!

The following evening we all went to the waterfront, where the vast majority of the town gathered to go out.  Some tasty food and drinks were enjoyed by all of us in local haunts that felt comfortably familiar (the similarities between small town Ireland and small town Wisconsin were strikingly eerie).

With the recent run of nighttime over-indulgence, we all agreed that it would be wise to get a little excercise.  And there was a beautiful place to do so just outside of town.  The Walking Trails of Glandalough offered a naturally brisk and beautiful destination to burn off the excess of Guiness consumed over the past few nights.  This natural canyon was surrounded by a myriad of trails that allowed a group such as ours to trot amongst rocks and hills and forests and steams.  Wildlife abounded as we got ever farther off the beaten trails.  It was a fun afternoon out in nature!  But the excitement didn't stop there.  At the base of the lake was an ancient cemetary...something straight out of Irish lore.  The centuries old gravestones created a spooky feel as walked along the unkempt grounds.  This turned out to be a truly spectacular day!

After a couple more days of chillin' at Damien's, he decided to take me out on the Queen Elizabeth Walkway, a coastline trail that offered amazing views, interesting history and even a geocache.  Damien's keen knowledge of the area, combined with his almost tour guide explanations, taught me heaps of information about this land that I never expected to learn. 

Alas my time in Bray was coming to an end, and Damien made sure to send me out in style.  Dom and his girlfriend came down to say farewell and partake in the delicious meal prepared by Damien and his wife.  It was a wonderful last evening with my friends!

From Bray I took the train back to Dublin, where one final day in Ireland awaited.  And this day was dedicated to being a toursit.  I strived to see much of the city in this final day abroad.  A walk along the Liffey soon had me arriving at the Guiness Brewery.  Yes, it was touristy.  Yes, it was over priced.  But how often does one get to taste a Guiness any fresher?  During the hike back toward Tample Bar area I stopped at the Dublin Castle for more sight seeing.  A short jaunt further resulted in a tour of Trinity College, an establishment dating all the way back to 1592!  Crossing the Liffey, I wandered along O'Connell Street, where the Monument of Light soared over everything, a whopping 120m tall.  After a short interlude back at the hostel, I headed to Temple Bar for a beverage before taking in the epic Riverdance.  It was my first time seeing the show, and I could think of no better venue than right here in Dublin to experience the classic music and see the traditional dancing of the show.  My last day in Dublin, and for that matter abroad, was truly an epic day.