Beautiful Glendalough (Day 2)

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Ireland / Personal / Travel

Day two. What an amazing first day we had in Dublin! Despite our lack of sleep, we powered through a full day of sight seeing and had a great time exploring the city. Our second day started with an early rise. With a short walk from our hotel, we arrived at the Tourism Centre somewhere around a quarter til nine, just on time for our Wicklow Mountain/Glendalough day tour.

Walk from hotel to Tourism Centre, Dublin

We originally booked with Frank at Wild Mountain Heather and were caught by surprise when a seemingly random Irish man grabbed my arm and asked if we were Ryan and Jessica. It was Frank! We must’ve really looked like helpless tourists for him to find us like that, right? Unfortunately, Frank came with bad news. His minibus had broken down. Apologizing, he led us over to another tour group headed to the same area and assured us we would be in good hands. Admittedly, I was a little bummed. I had no idea if this tour company had good reviews or stopped at all of the same places. I just knew it was a bigger bus with more people on it. We knew this sort of thing could happen though and told ourselves to roll with the punches when it inevitably did. Frank introduced us to Joe of Wild Wicklow Tours and with the exchange of some euros we climbed aboard the bus, picked two seats with an unobstructed window and got comfy. Our route out of Dublin was along the coast with a short stop at DunLaoghaire Harbour.

DunLaoghaire Harbour

We probably had about 15-20 minutes to wander around. It was the perfect amount of time to snap a few photos and explore the immediate area.

DunLaoghaire Harbour

From there, we continued through Dalkey and Killiney where Joe pointed out the residences of some of Ireland’s rich and famous. Our next stop was at Avoca Handweavers (Fern House Cafe, Kilmacanogue) for coffee and tea. We were given about 30-45 minutes to eat or shop (there’s a little shop attached to the cafe). Ryan and I enjoyed some tea and shared a chocolate croissant 🙂 Somewhere between Avoca and Glendalough, we pulled off for a stop at the “P.S. I Love You” bridge. Regardless of being a wildly popular stop thanks to its appearance in the movie P.S. I Love Youit’s a beautiful little spot all on its own and I’m so glad we got to spend a few minutes taking in the sights.

P.S. I Love You Bridge Ireland

P.S. I Love You Bridge Ireland

I only wish we could’ve been in Ireland when the heather was in bloom! See all of the brown in the photo below? When in bloom, all of that is purple. How amazing would that have been? (it’s in bloom in the movie!) Maybe we’ll just have to come back one day 😉

P.S. I Love You Bridge Ireland

P.S. I Love You Bridge Ireland

We stopped for lunch at a little pub near Glendalough. I couldn’t for the life of me tell you the name of the place, but it’s probably one of a couple that the tour buses rotate through. Ryan and I both had Guinness stew. I remember it being just okay, nothing to write home about and we had a much better version of the dish later on in our trip. Nevertheless, it was a still a nice little pub. Next up was Glendalough, a breath taking 6th Century Monastic Settlement settled in a glaciated valley between two lakes. It was partially destroyed in 1398 by English troops, but a beautiful round tower still stands tall next to a stone church and graveyard.

Glendalough Monastic Site

Glendalough Monastic Site

Our guide, Joe, did an awesome job! Before we were turned loose to explore, he walked us through the monastic site and told us a little be about the history of each spot. Here he is in front of St. Kevin’s Kitchen (St. Kevin’s Church) explaining it is actually a nave-and-chancel church of the 12th century. People believed the bell tower was actually a chimney to a kitchen, hence the nickname, but no food was ever cooked there.

Glendalough Monastic Site

Notice how high the door is on the round tower? It was designed to help keep unwanted people out.

Glendalough Monastic Site Round tower

The shot below is through the door way of the Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul. It is the largest of seven churches in Glendalough.

Glendalough Monastic Site

Here’s a shot facing the opposite direction, looking into the cathedral.

Glendalough Monastic Site

From here we were on our own for about an hour. We were able to walk to the upper lake and back or do a loop around the lower lake. We opted for the loop route and got to enjoy some of the greenest grass I’ve ever seen in my life! You can see it in the background near Ryan’s head. Speaking of Ryan… he was such a good sport. I took so many pictures of him. Some candid… and many not. Which he just loveeees. Oops 🙂

Glendalough lower lake

But seriously, look at this grass!

Glendalough Lower Lake

Ry and I spent about an hour or so doing the loop, stopping to take pictures here and there, eventually finding ourselves back at the meet-up spot near the bus where Joe greeted us with a shot of Jameson… our kind of guy!  After the rest of the stragglers made it, we hopped back on the bus for a drive up through the mountains.

After a bit, we stopped for a few minutes to take in the sights of Lough Tay, better known as Guinness Lake (see if you can guess why)…

Guinness Lake

Guinness Lake

And from there, we started our trek back to Dublin. Before I go on though, I have to say again how great Joe with Wild Wicklow was. Absolutely wonderful tour guide. Very informative and great voice (he even sang for us a bit). Despite being skeptical of the large group, it wound up being a very nice day and we were able to take in quite a bit on our own.

We got back to Dublin just about 5:30pm and scooted back to the hotel to freshen up for our 7:30 dinner reservation at L. Mulligan Grocer.

I saw raving reviews for L. Mulligan Grocer all over the place while planning our trip and knew it was somewhere we had to go. Another draw was the selection of local brews they offer. Being from St. Louis, we’re big fans of the local beer scene and I thought it would be neat to find a place in Dublin that offered some “home” away from home.

L. Mulligan Grocer

From the outside, it looks like your standard run-of-the-mill Irish pub (and there’s nothing wrong with that!) but once you step inside and walk just past the main bar, the space opens up to this light and airy room resembling something more of a traditional restaurant. Beautiful details are everywhere. From the thick, rustic style wooden tables to the menus made from books and Scrabble rack “reserved” signs… this place is a gem. I wish I had taken more photos, but hey… we already look like tourists!

Ryan and I ordered the Scotch Egg and Bon Bons to start. I believe their menu changes seasonally with variations on the Bon Bons and writing this post almost a year later, I couldn’t tell you what was in em. Just trust me when I say they were delicious!

L. Mulligan Grocer

I also couldn’t tell you what Ryan had for dinner (he must not have shared with me)… but I had their spin on Fish and Chips and it was one of the better I tried while in Ireland. Our server was incredibly friendly and we really enjoyed talking with him a little about the area. Overall, great experience!

After dinner, we cabbed it back to the hotel and debated whether or not to go out to some of the touristy pubs in the nearby Temple Bar  later that night (just to say we did). We decided to pass on that after a long day of sight seeing and instead opted to get ice cream from Murphy’s. Totally okay with that decision. We figured we could skip the super touristy bars here and enjoy a night out in one of the smaller towns later in our trip.

By the Liffy at Night

And with that, the end to a great day!

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