Ireland: Part 5 – Powerscourt Estate

I had planned this day with 3 itineraries depending on what we had done, wanted to do, felt up for, etc. One option was driving to Waterford and doing the Crystal Factory tour stopping in either Cashel or Kilkenny on the way back. The second was Brú na Bóinne and the burial mounds there that date to 4000 BCE. The third option is what we ended up doing since my mother’s back was not up for the rest of it. Besides it was nice having a bit of a lazy day in the middle of a busy vacation.

So woke up late and puttered around.

Then drove over to Powerscourt Gardens, mostly because shopping was going to be involved and we were planning on going to Enniskerry immediately afterwards. But we could have walked as it was less than 5 minutes from the hotel. I think the drive took longer than it would have to walk.

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Our hotel is on the top part of this map so you can get a sense of just how close they are. Too many trees to see the gardens properly from the hotel though.

Immediately went into the Gardens and did most of the 1 hour walk (which is actually around 45 minutes).

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The backside of the estate house and the very clever patios with small rocks on their sides for paving.

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View from behind the estate through the Italian Garden into Triton Lake (but really it is a large pond).

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The Japanese Garden which lays adjacent to Triton Lake on the left side when facing it as above.

Once you curve around the backside of the lake you have 2 choices the Rhododendron Walk or the shortcut which cuts right by the Pets’ Cemetery. This is where they buried the family pets from when this was the estate of the Wingfield & Slazenger families. The largest private pet cemetery in Ireland they say.

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From there it was the Mermaid Pond

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And the walled Victorian garden, the finest example in Europe so they say.

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If you want to take your own “tour” Google Streetview has been all around the Gardens. Very very cool. And it looked just like that! It might help you place some of my photos in context.

After we were done gawking at the plants we tucked into Brunch in the cafe within the estate house. The actual house burned to the shell in 1974 but in 1996 it was opened as a shopping center. Basically lots of little rooms that blend together.

First, food, then shopping.

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I don’t even remember what sandwich I had. I know I liked it. I think there was ham or panchetta involved.

There was WiFi in the cafe so I took that moment to post to Facebook saying how much I was going to miss a country that offered tea (& coffee but I drank tea exclusively there) with every meal. How true that has been! Why don’t they do that here? I love tea.

Oh and the scones! This one was the best I had all trip but the scones were perfect. Not any different really than my recipe but loads better than what most Americans think are scones and those that are available commercially here. The trick is you barely incorporate the dough. It’s not bread. It should be treated like pie dough.

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From there I wandered throughout trying to find things to buy and bring home. This is Avoca and there were lots and lots of wool items available to buy. But I couldn’t decide on what to get nor could I decide on if I had enough room in my luggage to bring back something like a wool bucket purse or wool throw. I could have had it shipped home though (option at the register). But I never could make up my mind on what I wanted. I think checking out the foodstuffs was my favorite. But I – clearly – love good food. And I wanted to see what they had that I knew we had at home. And yes, some of this you can get easily here.

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Ultimately I bought tea and candy. The same stuff I bought everywhere. And some postcards. I figured when I decided I would just buy it online. And actually the rates online are the same as in store but shipping is €10 higher than at the register. Not enough to be an issue IMO.

Trust me when I tell you that they have lovely items that are definitely worth the money.

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Anyhow from there we drove to Enniskerry and discovered that the town was PACKED. Not just a little packed either. The kind of packed that involves double parking on streets only wide enough for 2 1/2 cars. So we made a U-turn and headed back to the hotel instead. Too bad too as there was an antiques store we really wanted to check out even if we bought nothing to bring home.

At the hotel my mother took a nap and I explored the hotel getting photos of everything that I had missed. This was my last chance to do so.

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The Great Sugar Loaf Mountain with the helicopter pad on the left side

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Gigantic chess set – the King came up to my waist

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The labyrinth – all good hotels have some version of this it seems, yes? I never did find the path out. Gave up after 10/15 minutes or so. The harp is actually a fountain and the building beyond is the entrances to the underground ballrooms. The lobby of the hotel is on level 4, the restaurants are on level 3, the spa on the first level. Just beyond the labyrinth is this:

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A secret garden! It seems that this can be included in ballroom rentals as well as there is a bar outfitted on the far right side.

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The emergency exit signs in all the buildings in Ireland. The arrow changes direction depending on which direction you need to go, like pointing down for down a flight of stairs, etc. And yes this is just happens to be in the hall right outside our room on the 2nd floor (ground level with the gardens).

Around mid-afternoon we loaded up and drove to Bray to find a grocery store. The idea was to explore (love going into grocery stores in other parts of the USA – in Ireland I was spellbound!) as well as buy some prepackaged, precooked meals for dinner and breakfast the next morning.

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Better milk jugs than what we have. I buy a line of milk from a local dairy farm here that packages in bottles with this same shape, just glass. Wish they used plastic as each glass bottle costs a $1.50 deposit (get it back when you bring back the bottle). It fits much better in my fridge so I can imagine that these are fantastic to have.

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Eggs on the shelf on the right side. I knew this about Europe before going there but still thought it was cool to see. Cheese and yogurt on the left side.

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So much tea and coffee! Not unusual though compared to a lot of groceries in the US – we have just as much. Just very different lines.

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Curries on the left and the “Mexican/Tex-Mex” food selection there on the right. Hmmm. I wonder if the Irish know what they are missing out on?! I never did see a better selection than this in any place we went into. Nor did I see Mexican or Tex-Mex in a restaurant. But then again I wasn’t really looking either. Makes me a touch sad for them selection wise.

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The previously mentioned curries. Do not have selection like that here.

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There is a “Fridge Pack” of beans in the middle. Not used to that. But I don’t really like beans either. I pretty much like Boston Baked Beans and refried beans. That’s it.

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The first shock at the grocery was paying for parking – a Euro for an hour! And then discovering that they had nothing pre-cooked or pre-made! How inconvenient and I don’t mean just for us. The few things they had would have had to been heated. We had no way to do that. So we bought a few bits and pieces (like breakfast for the next morning and more candy!) then headed back to the hotel to get dinner in the Sugar Loaf Lounge. Aside from breakfast we never ate in Gordon Ramsey. Probably should have this night.

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This was some sort of mushroom soup with truffle oil I believe. I can’t find it on the menus online and I can’t remember what it was exactly. But it was good!

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Fish and chips. The Belfast takeaway was better. Much better. And I hate peas so the mushy peas were gross.

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Yes those are gold flakes on top. This was some beautiful chocolate mousse thing that the waitress recommended. Loved it.

After dinner I went swimming for the very last time in that amazing pool. Then it was a bit of TV and finally bed. Somewhere in all that I Facetimed my husband a few times as well since he wasn’t doing much on a Sunday.

Up next: The Cliffs of Moher, The Burren and dinner in a castle – our last actual day in Ireland.