Friday, 18 September 2009
Starting off with a hearty breakfast at the hotel, we finished up what we needed to do on the Internet and then hit the road south. Chris had looked at the map and was proposing taking the N50 (or whatever it's called) around the outside of Dublin. But the GPS units and the notes I had copied both said to take the N1 south. And, on the map, the N1 was marked as if it were a major route, so Chris agreed to take it. Oh. My. Goodness. It was just city streets with lots of cars in many lanes. Chris didn't curse, but at times it appeared that he really wanted to. But we made it safely through the city, out the other side, and were on our way to Powerscourt House and Gardens.
Powerscourt House is mainly shops and a restaurant. The lady at the entrance to the car park told us that the house had burned in 1974 and wasn't restored until it the recent rennovation for the shops. The gardens, on the other hand, were magnificent. Covering 47 acres, they contain formal terraces and grounds landscaped in an Italianate style, many statues, several fountains, a walled garden, and meandering paths among many varieties of trees and shrubs.
One of my favorite areas was the Japenese garden. A fast-moving stream—fed by waterfalls from the upper level—was crossed by several bridges. At one end, a grotto had been created with the walls covered by sphagnum moss and massive ferns....
From Powerscourt, we again hit the road and went on our way to Glendalough. Interestingly, at least one web site had warned that the signs guiding you to Glendalough might not be adequate. And, even with the GPS, we managed to get turned around just before arriving that the Glendalough Visitor Center. Realizing that we were on the wrong road, Chris pulled off into a layby and proceeded to try and get the car turned around to go back the way we had come. Surprised by a car which sped by, Chris was breathing deep and trying to get his anxiety under control when I looked out the passenger window to see a monument that had been placed in memory of someone who had died on the spot. I read the inscription out loud, and after a shocked gasp, everyone started laughing, which helped get things back on an even keel. Chris maneuvered the car back onto the roadway and then we turned into the car park at Glendalough Visitor Centre.
Well, the signs at the site were also inadequate. Firstly, from the car park, there were signs to the hotel and to the ruins. Seeing a building next to the car park in the same direction as "hotel", we assumed that was the hotel and began to follow signs to the ruins, but then we got to the entrance to a path and weren't sure where to go. The sign at the path entrance was labeled “The Wicklow Way” and there was no sign indicating that the ruins were this direction. So, I walked back to the building and went inside to ask questions. Lo and behold! This was the Visitor Centre and the lovely lady there was kind enough to walk out with me and point me to the two trails which led to the ruins. There was no charge to walk through the ruins; a small fee was charged if you wanted to view the interpretive exhibits in the Visitor Centre or if you wanted a guided tour of the ruins. Since our fees were covered by the Heritage Cards we had purchased yesterday afternoon, it wouldn't have cost us anything extra for the guided tour, but there was only one guide and she was out with a group. Rather than wait for her to return to the Centre, we decided just to walk around by ourselves and see what we could see.
A couple of hours later, we got back in the car and told the GPS units to take us to Tullow where we had reservations at Laburnum House B&B.