Ireland: Part 1 – Arrival & Glendalough

Since I already covered my NYC adventure time to move onto Ireland itself!

I hated the flight there. And I hated the flight back! Just no leg room. And both times I was near the window and trapped behind someone who would not put their seat up during the whole flight. They both had to be reminded by the flight attendant so I could eat. Yeah. Terrible. For about 6 1/2 hours (less going there than coming coming home).

But having food on the flight was interesting. I haven’t had actual food, a meal, since 1997 or so. I had forgotten all about food. Sad huh?

Anyway we left NYC a little after 9 pm local time and arrived in Dublin just before 9 am local time. Customs was a breeze. Though I did get in the wrong line. I was just following everyone and didn’t see the signs for the EU passport vs All passport lines until it was too late. No stamps in the EU line. For those, like myself, never having been abroad I will say it was super easy. Basically 2 questions after they looked at my information card (a note card with your name, passport number, where you are staying in Ireland, etc.) from a super grumpy dude – “business or pleasure?” and “how long will you be here?” Then they stamped my passport and on I walked to get my luggage. Easy peasy. Definitely nothing to fear. Customs coming home was worse. And even that was easy.

Anyhow ran to the nearest restroom (TMI I know but true and urgent!) and then waited for my checked suitcase to arrive on the belt. It took a very long time before suitcases even arrived, nevermind mine. Considering how early we checked in it had to have been one of the first loaded onto the plane. Let’s just say I had plenty of time to do a lot of things.

We then trekked to the rental car counter and picked up our vehicle from Dan Dooley. It was a Nissan Micra. And definitely one of the tiniest cars I have ever encountered!

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Turns out they offer a Wi-Fi enabled vehicle. We turned it down (additional €10 a day) but honestly I should have done it. It would have been awesome to have Wi-Fi anywhere we went since neither my mom nor I got the international phone and/or data plan on our cells. I rely on Google Maps in my everyday life even though I can read a map. It would have been fantastic. But instead we were cheap and I read an atlas the entire time I was there. I updated my personal Facebook each night at the hotel. It worked (most of the time, but we did get lost spectacularly in Bray looking for the DART Train Station) but I missed my iPhone and access to the internet so very much!

To say we were exhausted is an understatement. Not much sleep on the flight. But driving on the opposite side of the car and road was enough of a wake-up let me tell you! Not hard but something to get used to. We drove south to Enniskerry (about 1 hour from the airport) and to the Ritz-Carlton Powerscourt.

I will highlight all the pro and cons of the hotel (and other services/experiences) once I’m done sharing the adventures I had for those that would like to know but for now I will just say that I liked it and hated it for a number of reasons. They were very accommodating on our early arrival however. We got there about 11:30-ish and only waited about 30 minutes for our room to be ready. I nearly passed out in the gorgeous lounge though!

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We had a suite room on the courtyard side and while beautiful the view wasn’t as impressive as the mountain side. They know this of course and charge accordingly. I stupidly didn’t take a picture of the courtyard view but let’s just say it doesn’t compare to this:

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The room was a fantastic way to spend a vacation. The curtains, the lights and the temperature are all controlled by touchscreen, with 3 of them situated in the suite including one in the bedside table.

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If you would like to see a few more check out my Flickr stream.

I unpacked a bit and then took a bath and a nap. I desperately needed them both. My mother did the same.

In the afternoon we got dressed and investigated the hotel at bit. The pool was to die for and definitely is one of those cases of being better in person than in a photograph. It had no gutters and was a zero entry. I have never seen anything like it. And the chemical smell was very very low. Within it were black and dark brown tiles as well as Swarovski crystal lights that reflected the ripples of the water back unto the ceiling. Just an amazing pool to swim in. It hit me about halfway through my visit why they designed the pool this way. Dublin began as a Viking settlement and it’s name is anglicized Viking/Gaelic for Dubhlinn which means “Black Pool” (It was founded on a black pool of water originally). Whoever designed the pool did a fabulous job.

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We headed out in the car on back roads to visit Glendalough. I had hoped we would get there in time to visit the visitor’s center but no such luck. So instead we wandered around the nearly abandoned ruins. I think there were maybe 6 people there besides us.

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Do you think that’s a ghost in the image below? 😛

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As always lots more on Flickr. And of course I took video. I took a lot of video while in Ireland.

Afterwards we wandered towards Wicklow trying to find somewhere to eat (should have just eaten at the restaurant inside The Glendalough Hotel just next to the monastery). But ultimately ended up driving north towards Bray (a larger town next door to Enniskerry). We couldn’t find parking (and after spending several days in Bray I am not surprised in the least but it was frustrating at the time). And decided just to go back to the hotel and have dinner there instead. It is a Ritz-Carlton with a Gordon Ramsey in house so the food was good, always good, the entire visit. I ordered the lamb shank with potatoes, root veggies and a Guinness.

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I pretty much ordered a Guinness with every meal I could while in Ireland. *shrug* I happen to like Guinness so it was easy. Besides I was in Ireland. I will say they all tasted exactly the same regardless of where I got it. Even at the Gravity Bar at Guinness Storehouse. And they all tasted just like a decently poured pint here in the States. I wish I could say they were better in Ireland but honestly I think Guinness works very hard at ensuring that their beer tastes the same everywhere.

After dinner it was TV, Internet and bed. The hotel carries only a few tv stations and they have a mix of International ones – major USA stations, major UK ones, a couple German ones and a few Spanish ones. There was never anything to watch but the commercials were better and more interesting than here in the US.

Up next in Part 2: Northern Ireland & the Giant’s Causeway

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