So here we are in Kilkenny, Ireland, finally able to stop, take a breath, and write a little. Travel by bike may seem glamorous from afar, but when you are up front and personal with it, you realize that there is a lot more to it than you might think. Not complaining, but it can make staying current with the travel blog a little difficult!
We spent our first couple days in Dublin, Ireland, after a nice overnight flight from Toronto, Canada. It was a little like chasing morning because of the time difference; looking out my window was a surreal experience, a little like flying to Never Never Land from Peter Pan. Another airplane was visible, flying on a parallel path and the sun was rising so the sky was alive with vivid color. Pretty cool.
In Dublin, we spent the first hour or two putting together our bikes and then literally walked through customs out of the airport. No one so much as talked to us (Guess I didn’t have to dump half our spice bag before skipping the country)! Dublin had a wonderful bike path leaving the airport, one way on each side of the road. There were road signals just for the bikes. Unfortunately, as we entered the city the path would cut in and out, sometimes shared by a bus and at other times taken up by a parked car, but I guess we are used to that coming from the US.
Reaching our hostel, we dropped our luggage and made our way to Grafton Street, stopping for gluten-free buckwheat crepes and coffee at a wonderful little place sensitive to food allergies, Lemon Co. Their chocolate and strawberry crepe was to die for (Nutella chocolate) so thank you to Kyle’s parents for that one! Grafton Street was alive with street performers, bubbles, and tourists, a wonderful place to be on a sunny Saturday. A little jet-lagged, we took a nap in a park across the street and we certainly weren’t the only ones with that idea. The park was littered with midday nappers and cute doggies (there are A LOT of dogs in Ireland).
Our Saturday evening was rather uneventful other than the drunken singing coming from outside the hostel (there was some big game going on between the Scots and Irish). We would see a lot of kilts during our stay in Dublin. We took a stab at the pub scene on Sunday, trying to avoid the touristy Temple Bar by going to Mulligan’s, a more local dive, but ended up at Temple Bar after a boring drink that didn’t make us any friends.
First impressions? It started off as a lot harder to meet people in Ireland than it had been in North America. Kyle sent out 15 Warm Showers requests a week and a half ahead of time and received back 3 polite nos. As it is a bigger city, people didn’t chat with us off the street and no one really seemed all that curious about our bikes. We had emailed the planning department a week and a half ahead as well, and never received a response. We were a little worried, deciding to leave Dublin after just two days to head for the countryside.
Secondly, while there is more broken glass to dodge (not joking here), people give wide berth to bicycles in Ireland. We were cycling on roads with maximum speeds of 100 km and while people drove fast, they moved almost entirely into the other lane to pass us. We felt pretty safe.
Oh yes, I thought the Irish had a wonderful music culture of their own? Everywhere we went we were hearing Alanis Morrisette and American soft rock. I thought I was going to die when I went into a woman’s restroom and heard “Sweet Home Alabama”. They were even playing old favorites at the pub! At a local supermarket in the town of Athy, we came across a magazine called “United Tastes of America” and everywhere we look we see Uncle Sam. We met some friends just outside the town and they delighted in showing us their “American refrigerator” – a refrigerator with a water filter (sorry Joel, we just had to share:))
Now we are in Kilkenny, Ireland, climbing bell towers and touring churches and castles. We finally found some WiFi, as well as some great people, and are currently having a blast doing things like handwashing our laundry at our campsite (the local laundrette charges 18 Euros to wash and dry just one load (self service) – but they include the soap!)
Stay tuned – more posts to come as we get our bearings and hopefully some access to Irish planners!