Kilkenny & Wicklow Day Tour from Dublin

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July 12th 2015
Published: July 22nd 2015
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We had two nights in Dublin before flying back to Canada so we looked for some accommodation deals. We've been very happy so far with our budget travel using Intervac home exchanges but the hotel costs in-between free home stays can really add up. When we drove the Pacific Coast Highway in the USA last year we were pretty lucky at finding coupon deals for cheap rooms in nice motels and hotels but had been prepared to try out some hostels with private rooms if necessary. We didn't need any hostel stays on that trip but decided to give it a try here, booking two nights at Paddy's Palace . Not only was their private room CHEAP, but if you stay at least two nights you can get one of their day tours for free from Paddywagon Tours which they own.

When we told our Dublin friend Damien of our plans I think he was somewhat horrified and feared for our safety but we assured him we were very comfortable staying in the "bad part of town" and giving a hostel a go for a couple of nights. On arrival at the airport we found the shuttle eventually and had our free ride down into Dublin and were dropped off at the hostel. The neighbourhood is nice enough but VERY old as is pretty much all of downtown Dublin. We were just a short walk away from the Temple Bar touristy section of town so we were happy to be staying in the area.

Upon entering the hostel we became a little unsure of our decision. We were obviously one of the older couples in the place which we expected but the old worn out facilities, broken down furniture and general uncleanliness were all a little disturbing. Nevertheless, we got our key then dragged our suitcases up the 3-storey walk-up to find our room. It was a VERY small room with single bunk beds. That was our first surprise as we remembered the private room on the website having a double bed. However, I can't find that now so must have remembered it wrong. Wishful thinking perhaps. I left Chris in the room and walked back down to the lobby to question the accommodations. They apparently only had bunk-beds in the whole place so I agreed we could live with that. I rented a couple of bath towels for 2 Euros each and walked back up the 3 stories to our little room.

We headed out right away for a walk around downtown Dublin, reliving some enjoyable times from when we were there two years earlier. While wandering around the city, we stumbled upon Castle Dublin , an 800 year-old castle covering over 11 acres of grounds. We found a nice bar for a pint then ended up at a great Italian restaurant for supper, la caverna , located in an old wine cellar. The food was excellent and the service very good. They had a few tables outside facing a small square with a market area that was shutting down for the night. We chose an indoor table as the day was cool and drizzly.

Back at the hostel, we had showers in the shared bathrooms then a surprisingly comfortable night.

The next day we were up early for our free breakfast (toast and cereal) then ready for our free tour. Our tour guide, Kieran, was perhaps the worst tour guide of all time. Speaking little or not at all for most of the day and mainly just acted as a time-keeper whenever we were let out someplace. We would have done just as well alone with the bus driver. However, the tour locations were great and we thoroughly enjoyed our day.

Our first stop was at Glendalough in County Wicklow. It's a beautiful little area with the remains of an old monastery surrounded by a VERY old Celtic cemetery and a tower. It's a heavily wooded area with two small lakes nearby, a babbling brook and a touristy little townsite. While most of the tourists headed out towards the lakes I was enthralled by the ancient ruins of the monastery and surroundings.

Back on the bus we started the LONG 2-hour drive out to Kilkenny. We had two hours there but LOTS to see so we had to eat a quick lunch and pick two quick sites to visit. In the middle ages, Kilkenny was the capital of Ireland and has a fantastic 12th century Norman castle, cathedrals and an abbey all well preserved and still in use. Lunch was Guinness and Fish & Chips at The Left Bank , a beautiful HUGE restaurant and pub in a recently renovated old Bank of Ireland building.

After lunch we walked a few blocks to the Dominican Black Abbey . It's a beautiful building with great statues and stained-glass windows dating back to the 13th century. Click my link to read more about the Black Abbey and the important part played in the history of Kilkenny.

After seeing the Abbey we had just enough time for a walk back towards the bus and around Kilkenny Castle where we were parked. Originally built in the 13th century for William Marshal, the 4th Earl of Pembroke, the castle is now a public tourist attraction. Unfortunately we ran out of time so did not tour inside but the exterior was incredibly well preserved and the extensive park-like grounds were very popular and well-used by tourists and locals.

So it was back on the bus for an hour or so ride back to Paddy's Palace. Enroute I got online and booked us a room at the Radisson Blu Hotel at the airport for our last night. So on arrival at the hostel, we grabbed our bags, checked out a day early, and used their free shuttle to get a ride to our new hotel. Awwwww, LUXURY! Or at least compared to our previous night's accommodations. I emailed Damien and admitted that yes, he was right about us not being completely comfortable at the hostel. I think it would have been fine for one night, travelling around the country, with only a small pack. But after 6 weeks of travel with all our suitcases, we needed a little more upscale and comfortable accommodations.

Our flight home the next day was uneventful, stopping in Vancouver overnight at the Fairmont Airport Hotel then one last flight to Kamloops and a taxi up to our home at Sun Peaks, BC to end another home-exchange European adventure.

If you click on the links throughout this blog you will be taken to sites providing history and tourist info for each item. Also, remember to continue scrolling down from here to see the rest of the photos.

Additional photos below
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The 30M high Round Tower, GlendaloughThe 30M high Round Tower, Glendalough
The 30M high Round Tower, Glendalough

The only doorway 4M above the ground.

29th July 2015

They say that experiences, last forever and expenses disappear over time. Welcome home. Admire your spontaneity. Having a great time with grandson, has made me do things that I thought were not interesting. (eg. ride in the monster truck with him)

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