We had never been to Ireland before, and we only had a few days in Dublin when we decided to visit this summer (2016 – to celebrate our five years of traveling together). But one “problem” for us is that we after a short amount of time get itchy feet and need to see more (if we can). So after a full day hopping on and off the sightseeing bus and seeing the main attractions we spontaneously booked a day trip for the upcoming day – “Kilkenny Day Tour from Dublin”. It was a chance to see a bit more of the county and to get a preview of what more to explore later. The tour was organized by Wild Rover Tours, and unexpected things did happen during that day…
Early the next morning we headed out to find the right bus stop. Our hotel was situated quite central so “everything” was in walking distance, and after a few minutes we were there, at the stop that turned out to be the most popular stop in the city or something. As early birds we saw people go on and off, new busses coming and going. And who doesn’t love people watching? Isn’t that the best time spent while waiting? And now I’m drifting away. Back to the tour…
Around 8:30 we were on our way, just making a few more stops to pick up the rest before heading out to Ireland’s countryside, and up to Glendalough, a glacial valley and medieval monastic settlement which played an important role in the religious and cultural history of Europe.
Glendalough is home to one of the most important monastic sites in Ireland. This early Christian monastic settlement was founded by St. Kevin in the 6th century and from this developed the ‘Monastic City’. The ‘City’ consists of a number of monastic remains, and the most impressive being the Round Tower, which is 30m high. The name comes from ‘Gleann Dá Loch’, meaning “Valley of two lakes”. And it was here that Irish monks ‘saved civilization’ while the rest of Europe went through the Dark Ages.
We walked around with our guide Richard, a man filled with knowledge and many histories to tell. He told us about the buildings, the old ruins and the graveyard. After the guided tour we could walk to both the lower and upper lake, which we did. We also manage to have a short break for a small snack before we continued the day trip.
From Glendalough we drove further to the wild and rugged Wicklow Mountains. The Wicklow Gap and its scenery is the most varied on the island of Ireland, and the journey through the mountains brought us through spectacular locations where famous movies such as Braveheart and PS I Love You were filmed. We had a short stop for photo opportunities on top of the Wicklow Mountains overlooking the glens and valleys of County Wicklow.
Not too far from that the bus stopped, the driver Derick jumped out, and Richard wasn’t far behind. After a few seconds he came in and said; “this hasn’t happened before, but we have a flat tire”. He looked so sad and I think he was so worried this had ruined our day… They made some phone calls, and we were told the company had arrange to send a new bus and also a mechanic. So we sat there beside the busy road with a flat tire. And actually not disappointed at all – things like this happens and there’s nothing to do about that, and so we told Richard. It wasn’t their fault! And we knew they had done everything in their power so we could continue the journey. The journey is the destination, and it can’t always be problem free and boring. After not too long the mechanic arrived and he started to work with the tire immediately. And then the other bus arrived… We all jumped on and were taken to Kilkenny, only an hour behind schedule.
In 2009 the City of Kilkenny celebrated its 400th year since the granting of city status in 1609, and it’s well known for its culture with craft and design workshops, Kilkenny Castle, the Watergate Theatre, public gardens and museums. Kilkenny was a famous brewing center from the late seventeenth century, and still houses multiple breweries.
When arriving we headed straight to one of the most popular restaurants in town, and it was HUGE. Jon and I decided to eat, and we both ordered chicken for lunch. We snapped some photos to show our followers, and then we ate. I was almost finished when Jon was pointing at something on our table, and it was a small snail… We had no idea where it came from, but we knew it had to come from one of the plates. We did of course complain to the butler, and he did apologize and asked if we wanted something for dessert, which we could have for free. We both felt sick to our stomachs and didn’t wanted anything more to eat, which hopefully was understandable! After a few minutes he was back and said the dinner was on the house and he was so sorry and explained that it probably came from the salad (ugh). Later that day Jon went through the photos, and there it was, on MY freakin’ wooden plate, sneaking its way from the salad. No more salad for me rest of this trip, haha!
We then went for a walk to check out the city, visited St. Mary’s Cathedral before we had a milkshake. When I saw the posters on the window saying Kinder Bueno Shake I totally forgot all about the snail and wanted some. And it was delicious! We walked back towards the bus and stopped by Kilkenny Castle and sat down in the grass in the park – it was such a beautiful day; not high temperatures, but the sun was shining and it looked like everyone was out enjoying the blue skies. We relaxed while slurping on our shakes until the bus was ready to leave. And now the original bus with out driver was back, and the tire was no longer flat.
We had such a great day, even with some delays and ‘problems’, and Derick, the driver, was easy-going and a safe driver, and the guide, Richard, was the best. He had so many stories to tell and knew so much about everything. We are so satisfied that they did everything they could when we faced challenges on the road. We want to give them five stars, and also recommend this tour if you are visiting Dublin for a few days and want to see more than just the city. It gives you a small taste of Ireland and what it has to offer.