I have always enjoyed traveling, even if it meant sleeping in a tent when I was younger. I prefer hotels and cruise cabins now, but the motivation is the same...an adventure waiting to happen. Sometimes you will find me traveling with my husband and/or family. Sometimes I will travel alone, and sometimes I will travel with friends. I hope you find it entertaining to keep up to date with me as I explore the world around me. Warning...I like to take pictures of food so don't read if you're hungry. More adventures await...see ya soon...Amy.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A Drive South to Waterford


interesting little market stand in a little town along the way

our first view of the Wicklow Mountains

Powerscourt Waterfall. When the rains are heavy, the water is so thick that it looks like a sheet of water over the rock.

One of many of the Powerscourt Estate statues.

Inlaid mosaic of dark and light stone.

Powerscourt Estate

a tower among the grounds

One of my favorite areas on the grounds were the Japanese gardens

View of Powerscourt from the far end of the gardens

The Pet Cemetery

This brought tears to my eyes....a pony and his wife are buried here

instead of just dogs, this cemetery also included ponies and cows!

The Thistle in the gate represents Scotland, the Rose represents England, and the Shamrock represents Ireland.

The formal gardens

I was really surprised to find the Hydrangeas still in bloom. I was actually surprised to see ALL the flowers that were still in bloom.

Our delicious lunch...quiche and 3 salads. I chose potato salad, green salad with vinaigrette, and a carrot salad

every now and then we got a peek over the hedge to the countryside beyond. Notice the hedges marking the edges of property.

Loch Dan is way to the left in the distance

Loch Tay

In a field to the right of Loch Tay, we thought we saw cattle or sheep. As I zoomed in with the camera, we discovered these are DEER! Lots of them!!

The sheep are free range and you never know when you will encounter them on the road.

There are fields of Heather everywhere. At this time of year, it is turning the golden shade of autumn, but I managed to find some still with its' purple.

in the right hand corner of this pic

Glendasan River at Glendalough

The entry to Glendalough

Inside the Cathedral

What people can do with stone amazes me.

the Round Tower has bells inside to call the inhabitants to prayer.

St. Kevin's Church

the remains of Glendalough

a break in the stone walls revealed the Irish Sea and a golf course!

The Irish Sea on the east coast of Ireland

These houses have steps all the way down to the beach

Danny looking for ships on the horizon
Today was the day for a driving adventure! We drove south out of Dublin in the direction of our first stop, Powerscourt Estate and Gardens. The current house stands on the site that was once a 13th century medieval castle owned by the LePower family from which it got its' name. Irish families fought for possession of it over the centuries, including names like the O'Tooles and the Fitzgeralds. In 1603,  Queen Elizabeth granted the castle and its grounds to Richard Wingfield as a reward for his military achievements. His descendants remained in possession of Powerscourt for 350 years. The 68 room manor house was completed in 1741. In 1974 a fire gutted the house without injuries. It was restored and reopened in 1996, but not as a home, just as a visitor's destination. The gardens first began to take shape over two and a half centuries ago. It is considered one of the most beautiful gardens in Ireland. We enjoyed our walk through the gardens, stopping to admire the statues, ancient trees, and beautiful variety of flowers. We particularly liked the pet cemetery for the much loved pets of the Powerscourt families. Standing at the grave of the children's ponies, Tommy and his "wife" Magic really made me want to cry. I had to walk away pretty quickly. Before we actually came to Powerscourt Estate, we went to Powerscourt Waterfall which is located on the vast estate. We were surprised that we were charged to view the waterfall, but I guess since it's on an estate, they want all the money from visitor's that they can get! The waterfall is the highest in Ireland and was really beautiful. I'm not sure it was worth being charged to see it, but we were all glad that we did see it. We ate lunch on the Terrace outside at Powerscourt with food we purchased from their cafe. The food was outstanding! The food was french inspired and very fresh and everyone was pleased with their meal. Following our lunch, we took a "scenic" drive to Glendalough (prounounced Glen-dah-lock). Along the way we saw some beautiful lochs (lakes) named Loch Dan and Loch Tay. The Irish have hedges lining almost every road that are up above the car windows so you can't see much along the way. It is so exciting to get a glimpse between hedges of sheep and cows grazing in their meadows, a mountain or two, the immaculate yards of homes, etc. We were driving along one of these scenic roads and suddenly the hedges ended and a low stone wall appeared. We were able to see above the wall enough to know that we HAD to find a place to park the car. This can be very difficult as the roads are very narrow and there really isn't anywhere to pull off. We did find a spot and took in some beautiful vista views through a valley containing the two lakes. Danny walked down the hill some for a better view and found himself standing in very boggy ground! There was also a manor house way down below with what looked like a pasture in the front. When I zoomed into my picture later to look, I found that what I thought was cattle in the pasture were actually deer, lots of them! It was such a surprise. Mom wondered if those people knew they had all of those deer in their front yard! We continued to drive through an area in the Wicklow mountains known as Sally's Gap. A gap is the equivalent of our mountain passes. The heather grows wild and free on the sides of the mountains and the color has changed from a brilliant purple to a dull purple brown. The sides of the mountains wave in colors of green, brown, and purple. There were sheep everywhere up there and some on the sides of the road as they are free range sheep. They were not afraid of us or our vehicles and just seemed content to stand and eat. As we continued out of Sally's Gap, we stopped for another vista view along a small waterfall. Our next stop was Glendalough and the early medieval monastery ruins. The monastery was originally founded in the 6th century by Saint Kevin, a hermit priest, and partly destroyed by English troops in 1398. Mom really liked seeing this monastery because the buildings seemed more complete than Clonmacnoise. I prefered the vast number of crosses at Clonmacnoise. Either way, this site was set in a beautiful location and we saw that in addition to very ancient graves, there were also current gravesites there. We did wonder how someone would get permission to bury a person there? We located a coffee shop for a drink and ate some cookies as we drove on to Waterford. We had decided that in addition to seeing the mountains, we also wanted to drive along the Irish Sea coastline as we went south. We were disappointed that the hedges were so high as to block our view, but we did find a couple of spots for pictures. As we were driving and just about to leave the beach road, there was a parking area that opened up straight to the beach! We walked out to the Irish Sea and walked around on the beach. Mom declared it the most fun thing she had done today even though she said she had had a LOT of fun! We were on the beach just before sunset with coastline rising up on both sides. I'm not a beach person, but I loved this too. It was peaceful and cool with just the right amount of breeze swirling around. The only way I ever enjoy a beach! We drove on into Waterford and found our hotel. I had booked our rooms five months ago at the Granville Hotel after careful research and planning. I received a phone call a couple of days ago telling me that unfortunately, they had overbooked their rooms and had to find us a room at another hotel. Having never been there, I have no point of comparison to where we are staying now. They said this hotel has the same "star rating" and includes breakfast just like what I had booked. I also asked for free internet at this hotel and that was granted to me as well. We were supposed to be given a "nice" room for all of our trouble and if what we are staying in is their "nicer" rooms, I would hate to see the rest of them. This is certainly adequate, but not what I had expected. We won't stay long in Waterford so it wasn't worth putting up any kind of fuss, but I wouldn't have made this hotel my first choice. We ate dinner here in the hotel and our meal was very good. As we arrived late, it was nice to have a reasonably priced meal here instead of searching around town. Tomorrow we will tour Waterford a little and then make our way back to Dublin. Until then....

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