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Published: January 30th 2013
2.From Rosslare to Wicklow
Rosslare is a very small harbour built mainly for the ferry routes linked with the continent. It is situated at the southern tip of the east coast of Ireland. Behind it a large bay hides another harbour, Wexford, so that when you stand on the sandy hills of Rosslare you can see land streching around to the north. The coast is never in a straight line in Ireland, I believe.
I arrived in Rosslare on Saturday afternoon, as I said before, 12 January 2013.
On the Sunday morning I went to church around the corner from the B&B where I was staying. Although I can't believe in the christian myth any more, I still need to be praying and transcending to some benevolent God. I like to hear that some super being has some care for me and my petty problems on this earth. The community nearly filled the church, men and women, old and young, which surprised me greatly in this day and age. Nobody talked to me. In a protestant church someone would have made contact with me. But, anyway, I was happy and content to have spent a sort of spiritual hour in my schedule.
On the Monday morning I had a friendly chat with the young woman from China who was cooking my breakfast. I had met her previously in the street and we had exchanged a bit of a conversation. She said she couldn't read or write English because she was too old for learning. What about me then, I strongly interjected, in my late 60's, attempting to learn Chinese! She laughed and promised to go to school so that she could send me emails in English in some foreseeable future. Her boss, the B&B's owner and manager, had been very friendly too, joking at the odd tourists he gets to meet, some expecting to have breakfast served at 6am, others demanding a secure place for a bicycle, yet another wanting some heating in the room in the middle of August...
I left this friendly place on Monday morning, driving north with an intention to get to Wicklow for my next stop-over. Ten minutes out of Rosslare I stopped at a petrol station. Gasoil was €1.55 a liter, 20 cents more than in France. So I filled my tank for €20 only. Later on I saw prices for gasoil varying from station to station between €1.50 and €1.58.
A wide comfortable highway with a 100km/hr speed limit took me to Enniscorthy and Gorey, in the midst of bocage like fields and meadows. I saw sheep and hardly any cows although I found a few 'cattle crossing' signs along the way.
I wanted to drive through Arklow but I missed the south exit to it and eventually left the bit of motorway at its northern exit. Just following the nose of my car I drove up town, a busy town centre hanging on a sharp hill facing north, got to the top and then at a whim turned into a street that took me down again. The narrow road in the middle of mossy woodland took me to a junction that said 'Avoca' this way. I was truly in Ireland now, expecting a lepricorn to cross the road any time. On my Michelin map that road was R747 and it had a green line along it indicating that it was a scenic route.
Ah yes, by the way, I don't use a GPS. I love getting lost and finding my way again!
At Rathdrum I left that road for Wicklow where I arrived around lunch time. Narrow busy streets in the town centre made me turn down to the wharf. I parked on an empty car park in front of the rowing club and went looking for accomodation on foot. Eventually after asking a shopkeeper for advice I ended up at a very nice B&B in a room with a large window overlooking the sea. Room no.4 for €40 a night with breakfast.
Talking about breakfast, wow, what a treat here in Ireland! I make it my main meal of the day and this way I don't worry about looking for a place to eat. Restaurants and cafes are out of my financial reach, I am afraid. Sorry about that.
Tuesday morning, on a glorious day of January with plenty of sunshine low on the horizon so that you have it in the eyes all the time, I went up town to look for an internet cafe. I had left the electric cord for my iPad back in Rosslare and I had to email my family that I was happy and well. There's a computer shop in the main street, I was told, with public internet access. Yes, €1 for 15 minutes. I'd better be quick and sharp on it then, or else it will soon cost me the price of a new iPad... It looks like I'll have to go back to Rosslare then. I also bought an electric plug adaptor for €6 if I wanted to be able to use any local plug with my continental appliances.
And then I went for a long walk to the fishing harbour, the piers, past the tiny yacht club, up the grassy hills with ancient ruins squatted by black birds, round the top of the town, up to St Patrick's church over looking the town and harbour and back again to the B&B called Riverlodge.
Just before getting back I walked into a small supermarket and as I was standing in front of a fruit stall wondering what to get, an old lady with a nice and fluffy knitted woollen hat told me something about rotten bananas. Having a great experience about rotten bananas from having lived in the South Pacific for years, I ventured to explain to her that they are the best for cooking banana cakes. She made me repeat this and then asked where I was from. I said 'the continent'. But which country on the continent? - France. She looked at me straight and started saying the 'hail Mary' in French. Yes, in perfect French. She had learnt it when she was 12, when the Red Cross had brought refugee kids from France and Germany to Irland during WW2, and she had never forgotten it.
See what I mean by meeting interesting people.
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