On my second day in Ireland I woke up early to take the Dublin Area Rapid Transit (DART) to Dalkey, a suburb of Dublin and home to Enya and most of U2 (Bono and The Edge). That's like two-thirds of Irish music exports found in one tiny village! Not surprisingly, I didn't see them but I did see Coliemore harbour with its view of Dalkey Island:
And this beautiful view. Many of the houses hugging this bay have Italian-sounding names (e.g. Vico, Sorrento, Nerano, etc.) and I read that it was because the residents often compare this area to the Bay of Naples:
I stumbled upon a nudist swimming hole and found myself chatting to an old Irish man. He was both naked and incomprehensible which was a bit awkward. The sun was so hot and the sea so sparkling that I couldn't resist going in. I wasn't the only one in trunks, the other young people were clothed. Interesting that it works that way. But even though the air was hot the water was still brutally cold. I didn't last longer than four minutes:
And I forgot to take my wallet out of my back pocket which is a really classic Brody move. So, after the four icy minutes in the sea I spent the next twenty minutes peeling receipts off bills and arranging everything to dry in the sun.
After this minor debacle I headed up Killiney Hill for a better vantage point and a view of where the Wicklow Mountains meet the water. In Ireland, like the UK, they don't believe in guard rails so you can go clamoring up rocks and sit on the edge of cliffs at your own discretion. As I sat there I felt my skin sizzling pink. Ireland is not generally known for its heat or its sun but it was so beautiful the whole time I was there. I think I have a really twisted image of the country as a beautiful sunny wonderland:
Here is a view from Killiney hill back at Dublin:
I walked to Sandycove, home of the Martello tower that is famous for being featured in the opening passages of Ulysses and was also James Joyce's home for a while. I have this vague memory of my former roommate, E., trying to read Finnegans Wake and it not going so well. But she was Irish so it was a matter of nationalist pride. I bought Ulysses at the airport and it is similarly not going so well, however, I am not Irish so I don't know how I am going to make it through. Anyway, in Sandycove I watched the harbour seals chase boats until my sun burn was so bad I needed to return to the sweet relief of indoors. But not before I climbed over the rocks and took this picture:
I returned to Dublin and napped in the shade of a city park before returning to the hostel. Oh man, don't even get me started on hostels. For $15 CAD/night you have the oddly intimate experience of sleeping with twelve strangers cramped into poorly ventilated spaces sharing bunk beds. Not ideal but I can sleep anywhere so it worked.
After spending all Sunday by the sea I moved inland into the Wicklow Mountains. They are unreachable by public transportation and therefore require a car or a tour. Since, I don't have a car or a license I was forced to go with the guided tour. The only time I've ever done that was with my mom in Vienna. In this case, 14 people crowded into an over-sized van, basically an Irish clown car, and they drove us to the mountains. But look how excited I am to be there:
Basically we would tumble out of the van, snap pictures and then pile back in:
They say this lake is the colour of Guinness. Apparently Michael Jackson and his brood would come play around this private lake:
As part of the tour we stopped at Glendalough which is a major tourist attraction home to a monastery founded in the 6th century by St. Kevin. The monastery was a center of learning for over 600 years, surviving several raids by the Vikings. A lot of the site was destroyed in 1398 but this remains, totally beautiful and totally stereotypically Irish:
Here is the lower lake at Glendalough:
The tour guide told us that Mel Gibson filmed 90% of Braveheart in Ireland (though it is supposedly a Scottish movie). In part this was due to taxation laws as the Irish won't tax you on what you produce if you are a resident. But another reason was that Mel came into the Wicklow Mountains, looked around, and said, "This looks exactly like Scotland." So you have the Irish Reserve Army playing Scots (and English men) and running around the Wicklow Mountains. Usually, however, the area is used for more mundane activities like sheep herding:
I'm obsessed with mountains. I love being in them, around them, beside them, etc. We returned to Dublin 9 hours later, exhausted from the constant piling in/piling out and the hot hot sun. Back in Dublin, on my second last day, I knew they wouldn't let me off the island without drinking some Guinness so I did and it was actually pretty good.
Just one more entry...