Dublin Part III

Still slightly drowsy, we rubbed sleep from our eyes and made our way downstairs. Tossed a few hamburger-like patties in the microwave for breakfast and said our good-mornings.

After recharging cameras, writing a few blog posts, and socializing for a bit David and I met up with three English girls – two of whom we’d met briefly the evening before. After chatting for a while the five of us set off to meander through the city…we made our way down across Temple Bar, past vibrantly colored pubs and wound towards Trinity College and it’s gorgeous campus, situated in the very heart of Dublin. Passing through the huge outer doors/compound walls, the campus opened up before us with large greens, beautiful trees and historic buildings. Pausing periodically for pictures we wound our way through the campus before striking out and heading north towards the bronze statue of Molly Malone – famous fishmonger by day and immortalized lady of the night. You’ll find her name affectionately referenced in a number of Irish songs and as the namesake of a similar number of Irish pubs.

We paused with Molly to take a quick photo, while Lizzie leaned in for a quick squeeze, before cutting across to the Dublin tourist center. The center, like a number of other buildings in the Isles, is in an old converted cathedral. Large, spacious and beautiful, the interior is jam-packed with booths, fliers, and tourist gear.

From the tourist center we found a small bridge across the Lithie River and down along O’Connell Street. Pausing so our English companions could grab a cup of tea, we braved intermittent raindrops and soon found ourselves wandering through a slightly more rugged section of the city. The industrial feel quickly gave way to office buildings and a beautiful river walk. We spotted a 3-masted schooner tied up about a quarter of a mile down the river.

We wound down past a rather powerful monument commemorating the potato famine with gaunt, holocaust-esque bronze figures, before getting a good look at the ship from a narrow walking bridge that crossed the river.

Tired and footsore we climbed up the opposite side of the river-walk and back across Temple bar. Pausing to pick up cooking supplies for dinner at a small market, we found our way home and set to the task of a nap and preparing dinner.

By the time we set to cooking dinner, things were bustling. As we all piled into the kitchen, ducking and dodging each other we made new friends, shared food and stories. Eventually, eyes glazing over with full stomachs we settled in for another round of Kaste Gris. With the Danes laughing along joyfully we butchered the pronunciation, took our turns throwing the small pig-like dice, shouting, hollering and applauding good rolls.

As the evening progressed, we rounded up a good group of Brits, Danes, Austrians and a few others and then set off to the Porter House. There we listened to live music until close, before heading across the street to the Turks Head – a small club/bar which was offering Salsa. A few dances later, they called it a night, leaving us to start our own dance party – congo line included – in the bar/nightclub part of the venue. Eager for new surroundings, we migrated back to the Czech Bar shortly thereafter where we continued to dance, drink, and mingle well into the evening.

Not to be outdone by the previous evening, by the time we finally returned to the hostel, we quickly settled into the common room where Rasmus played a few songs as we sang and wound down.

The Wicklow Mountains Tour


Nate roused me out of a deep sleep at 8AM. After slowly rubbing the dreams out of my eyes I headed to the shower…still half asleep I walked into the men’s shower room and came face to face with a girl putting on her makeup. Momentarily confused, I double-checked to make sure I’d found the right shower room, then shrugged and took it in stride.

One of the entertaining things about hostels is that they tend to be a bit of a free for all. Sometimes it’s segregated bathrooms and showers, other times it’s mixed, yet others it’s a hybrid of the two. As we quickly chatted, I learned she was from New York and just beginning a tour around Europe. To her apparent surprise, as we chatted I stripped down to my boxers, before hopping into one of the three curtained off showers, stripping off the rest of the way and washing off.

Refreshed I geared up for the day, then headed down for a quick breakfast before connecting with the Danes at 8:55. We struck out on a brisque walk across the river and down to O’Connell Street where, after a few moments of confusion, we located the bus and hoped on board.

Our tour guide was a peculiar Irish gentleman in his 50s and full of wisdom, stories, history and softhearted compliments. At times I thought he was ready to propose to several of the women on the trip. We spent a good 30 minutes winding through Dublin learning about various famous buildings, passing by embassies, and taking in the city’s wide variety of architecture before heading south up into the Wicklow mountains. They are an incredible range of gently rolling mountains mostly devoid of trees at the higher elevations, all covered in a hearty layer of ferns and heather.


Our first stop was at a beautiful overlook on a small country lane. It offered a lovely view of the hills to the south and the green patchwork quilt of rolling hills to the south all dotted with small, picturesque farms and small herds of sheep. Through a periodic light misting we were able to pause and enjoy a wide range of blooming foliage. The most notable of which were large saucer/bell-like blossoms that were a rich pinkish/red color.

After pausing to snap a few quick photos we continued on to what had been an old military barracks, and had later been converted into a reform school for children. The compound currently serves as a peace center which has been instrumental in helping calm the unrest between the IRA and other separatist/nationalist groups in Ireland. While the others sipped on their coffee, I split off and explored a beautiful, lush stream which flowed through ferns, blackberry bushes and low hanging trees, all decorated by beautiful red and yellow blossoms.


As we left the Glencree Valley we wound up above tree line into a region covered in lush peat. The heather is just starting to bloom dusting the hillsides in a deep pink/purple. All the while the yellow and white blossoms from several other, smaller flowers decorated the countryside. As we wound up through the Sally Gap and Lough Tay we paused repeatedly to photograph small waterfalls, sweeping green vistas, amazing tundra/peat, and glacial lakes. Before long we’d reached the top of the mountain and began a steep descent along sheer cliff faces offering incredible views of fog-cloaked mountaintops and misty hills.


The region is the same region where they filmed Braveheart…so if you recall the footage of the “highlands” that’s actually where I was…and it was filmed in Ireland.


From there we wound down to Glendalough – a small valley with several small lakes, an ancient monastery and group of peculiar ruins. In a hearty rain, we made our way through an ancient graveyard with old tombstones and celtic crosses littering the ground. We paused at two of the older ruins…a small stone church and the freestanding walls of what had once been a larger abbey. All of which surrounds a large spire that’s more than 33 meters tall. The spire, a circular creation that juts into the air, was actually developed as a security measure to protect the inhabitants against Viking raids. Built of solid stone, the spire actually has an internal stairwell with several small defensive windows at various levels.


As the others opted to avoid the rain and catch the bus up to the upper lakes, four of us decided to brave the path. Thoroughly drenched, we figured we didn’t have anything to lose and crossed an incredible bridge over a small stream, surrounded by gorgeous greenery and blooming flowers, before winding through moss and fern covered forest towards the 2nd lake. The highlight of the stroll was an incredible 15 foot waterfall that, framed by damp foliage, ferns, and blossoming flowers was breathtaking. Despite the pouring rain, the whole experience was delightful and incredibly refreshing. Eventually, splashing through puddles we found the rest of the group, piled back onto the bus and made our way north for lunch.


We paused in the small town in the Vale of Avoca where Nate and I found a small fish and chips joint and split a hamburger, order of “chips”, and tasty pieces of fried cod. As we sat in the light mist, perched on the side of an ancient stone bridge, with the river rushing below us, we exchanged stories and reveled in the fact that we were finally traveling together, exploring the world, and undertaking shared adventures! As we paused, contentedly eating, an Irish gentleman stopped to exchange stories, discuss politics, and have a rather engaging and animated conversation. Nate and I only understood about 2/3 of what he said but we were content. So far, the Irish have been incredibly friendly and warm – albeit nearly impossible to understand.

The last brief stop of the day was just outside the village at the Meeting of the Waters, a spot made famous by Thomas Moore.

It was 5:30 by the time we got back into Dublin. We made our way back to the hostel to dry out and collapse into a much needed nap, before crawling out of bed. After getting over my shock that it was almost 9 – we headed down, set to the task of making new friends, and played a rather peculiar set of Danish drinking games. One – Kaste Gris – was a bit like playing dice, but used two small rubber pigs instead. With a jubilant “Caste Gris!” the player tosses the two small pigs, then is allotted X points based on how they land. Which was followed by another Danish song and dance, which got the group down on our knees at one point, slapping the floor, and then had us all up spinning in circles and jumping around with arms locked arm in arm. As you might imagine. The whole adventure was a hoot!

Shortly there after, we headed back to the Porter House for more live music and then made our way to the Czech Inn – a late bar located just down the street, where we danced and generally raised hell until 2AM, when the bar shut down. Still full of life, we headed back to the Hostel where we picked up two guitars and spent an hour or two singing along and playing various songs from around the world.

The City of Dublin Part II

The bus ride into town was straight forward. During a 15 minute wait at the bus stop, I met three American girls who had just arrived from New York. Our bus finally arrived, we piled aboard and hunkered down for the 40 minute ride from the airport.

Before long I recognized familiar sights. Even though a lot had changed since 2004, enough had stayed the same that I was able to navigate my way through the streets and make my way towards Christchurch Cathedral, which Nate had told me, was immediately next to our hostel: The Kinlay House.

As I trudged up towards the doorway to the hostel, a large red blur bust through he doorway. Before I knew what was happening I’d been picked up in a giant bear hug, day pack, main pack and all and was being spun around in a circle, feet flayed out, narrowly missing several shocked couples who had previous been walking behind me. Finally after 6 months Nate and I reconnected. He eventually let me down, and traffic once again made it’s way past us and down the street, while we caught up. The trip was finally real. The adventure had finally properly begun.

In the last 6 months Nate’s grown a mighty red beard, traded weight for muscle and truly come into his own as a social node. Despite only arriving the day before, he’d already befriended most of the hostel and hostel staff and made a name for himself. Ask around and people might have trouble recalling the name of the hostel, but most will be able to tell you about David from Arizona. A fantastic testament to how incredible the experiences over the last 6 months have been for him.

We had a brief wait before the room was ready during which time Nate caught me up on some of his adventures, while introducing me to three Danes, an Israeli girl and a French girl, whom he’d befriended. We sat, became acquainted and told stories.

Before long we were able to check in, deposit our bags, and set out to wander Dublin in search of food. The day itself is a bit of a blur, in no small part due to my jet lag, however, we struck off through the square surrounding Christchurch Cathedral, and headed into the old Viking quarter of the city, before banking down a side street. Looking for cheaper food, we eventually found a nondescript pub that lacked a name and actually looked like it was closed. We decided to give the door a try and to our surprise found ourselves in a fun little pub full of men in their 50s and 60s sitting around B.S.ing and watching the local Irish football game. With a hearty, “Welcome Lads!” and warm Irish smile the attention of the bar panned our way briefly, before returning to the televisions. We saddled up the bar, quickly realized they didn’t serve any food, and decided to pause for a Guinness before continuing our search.

From the pub we quickly found a small market where we picked up food and drinks before winding our way back through a light rain to the hostel. Once there we joined the throngs in the hostel kitchen and added our pasta and supplies to the mix.

Stuffed we retired for a brief nap – I was exhausted – before heading back down to the common area where we met back up with our Danish and Israeli friends, as well as several new ones. Drinks in hand, our group quickly grew with open smiles and ready invites to join. By 9:40 or so we rounded up the masses, tossed on our rain jackets and made our way down the street to the Porter House. A local brewpub on the edge of Temple Bar, the Porter House is a fun 4-story bar that winds up around an open central area which houses a small stage, sandwiched between floors. They had a great Irish band playing a wide variety of music, a little room for a bit of dancing, and plenty of room for socializing and further travel and adventure stories.

By 11:30 they were closing up and we elected to take it easy. The Danes suggested we join them the following morning at 9:00AM for a tour they’d signed up for of the Wicklow area south of Dublin. Eager to get into the countryside we agreed and booked the trip upon our return to the hostel.

Exhausted, I collapsed into my bunk and quickly drifted into a deep sleep.