Monday, September 15, 2014

Hiking in Ireland: Bray Coastal Walk

I had been told that September was the best month to travel around Ireland as the weather usually shows its most gentle side. Everybody knows it is so because everybody remembers going back to school after a cold and wet summer only to find out that the sun was shining again outside while they were putting their new books on their desks. This year was no different and as soon as the streets were full of schoolboys and schoolgirls wearing uniforms of every possible colour combination the summer showers took a break and the sun begin to shine again. Yeah, the weather is being nice again and it definitely seems like the perfect time to be outdoors. So that's what I'm trying to do.

Some weeks ago I ventured myself outside Co. Dublin for the first time ever. I didn't get far though, just went to Bray, the first village in Co. Wicklow after the end of Co. Dublin. Someone had told me that Bray made for a nice summer daytrip, especially during the Bray summer festival, when there is a fair on the main square. But I missed the summer fair and Bray wasn't especially beautiful nor especially interesting. There is, however, something good about Bray, the hiking possibilities. And apparently there's also a nice bowling place where you can spend the whole evening trying for the perfect strike for only €10, or so I've heard (oh my, I'm realizing now that I hear too many things ...). Anyway, back to the hiking, the good thing about Bray is that it is a great base point to start exploring Co. Wicklow, known for its lush nature, and it also offers some scenic views of the coast of Ireland.

Bray's most distinctive feature is Bray Head, a hill which overlooks the village and can be seen from all over the coast. I first intended to walk up to Bray Head but I somehow missed the way and walked along until I reached Greystones, the next village in Co. Wicklow. While the views from Bray Head are probably spectacular, the coastal walk from Bray to Greystones was also delightful. Six kilometers along the coast seing cliffs, wild vegetation, old railways, rocks and stones, hundreds of lilac flowers and the mighty sea. It was a first taste of Ireland outside Dublin, of all the wilderness of its nature and of its famed greenery. It was an easy path to follow and even though I went hiking on my own I didn't feel unsafe as there were always people around.

I treated myself to a fish and chips when I arrived to Greystones and then I wandered a bit around before I took the bus back to Dublin. Greystones might not be particularly interesting either but it was more charming than Bray and the main road had several good-looking cafés. I may never return to Bray or Greystones but it was lovely hike nearby Dublin and I can tell you, Ireland is really that beautiful!

Have a lovely week!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Photowalk: Dublin National Botanic Gardens

Last Tuesday marked three months since I moved to Dublin. Time really flies! During these three months I've been out and around Dublin and by now I can confidently say that I quite know the city. And more importantly, I quite love this city. I really like its easy-going vibe and provincial feeling and attitude. People are never too busy to stop for a chat, bus drivers are always willing to help with the way, the nearest supermarket is usually never further than a street away, there are hundreds of cafés to pause for a while and there are dozens of green spaces where to relax on a sunny day. Or simply on a non-rainy day. The weather forecast says that the sun will be shining timidly this weekend and that temperatures should stay around 20*C and that's more than lovely weather in Ireland. So I though it would be nice to take you for a walk to one my favourite places in the city.

I went to the National Botanical Gardens a couple of months ago and I truly enjoyed my time there. The weather was nice and July must have been a very good month to visit them as many flowers were in bloom and plants and trees were at their greenest. The most distinctive feature of the botanical gardens in Dublin are its glass greenhouses which are scattered over the park and each of them is home to different flora according to their natural ecosystems - there is a small glasshouse for delicate alpine flowers and some bigger houses for tropical plants and trees. Outside the glasshouses, the gardens are also arranged in different sections. There is a rose garden, Chinese gardens, Irish vegetation areas and even fruit and vegetable patches. Botanic gardens do not usually rank high on my sightseeing lists but I am happy that I discovered this small gem in Dublin, though it is slightly out of the touristic trail.

The National Botanic Gardens are located on Botanic Road and be reached by bus (no 9, 13 and 83 among others). The gardens are open Monday to Sunday, though opening times vary throughout the year. Entry is free.

Have a lovely weekend!

Monday, September 1, 2014

That was a weird day

The funniest things can happen in Ireland. Like that time I was waiting for the bus and a man approached me and asked if I was Spanish or Italian and then told me the story of his life, which basically was something along the lines of him making the resolution of learning a new language for the new millennium, him actually learning Spanish and eventually moving to somewhere in Catalonia to teach English and have much fun doing paragliding or whatever, him coming back to Ireland but missing Spain a lot. He even had a joke to tell in Spanish. I wondered what story he would have told me, had I said I was Italian. Anyway, that didn't happen on that day.

It all started in the morning, when I poured some boiling water on my hand when preparing my morning tea. Oh, did it burn. My hand was hurting all morning and sometimes even the still air would make my hand sore. That day was rather hectic at work and I went for lunch a bit later than usual. I was chatting with some colleagues I had never talked to before and just before returning to my desk the cook came to compliment me on my hair. 'Oh, it looks lovely. Did you straighten it yourself?'. 'Ehm, yes, thank you!'. Later, the girls explained that he has a thing for hairs and hadn't he been a cook, he would've trained as a hairdresser. I had to do some overtime but when I finally went home I turned on my laptop and looked for flights to Switzerland for a long weekend. I was going to book them separately and after booking a ticket from Dublin to Basel my laptop decided it was about time to stop working. And there I was, with a one-way ticket to Switzerland and no laptop to book my return ticket.

And that's the story of how my laptop finally powered off. After eight years and five countries, my laptop and I parted ways. He was a good laptop but I could see this coming for a long time. It was years since he started making a terrible noise and for that I nicknamed him 'the helicopter'. Seriously, it was so bad that when I once had an interview via Skype my interviewer asked if I was living near an airport. But he was a good laptop. I asked to live at least until I finished writing my master thesis last summer and he survived for even another year after that. It is not going to be easy to replace him, I don't even know where to start looking (any suggestions?).

That's one of the reasons why this space has been so quiet during the summer. However, it wouldn't fair to blame it all on my laptop. I've been quite busy in the last weeks, out and about. Either Boyfriend was here or I was there; either I was daytriping outside Dublin or staying in Dublin for summer bbqs; and I even spent some quality time with a childhood friend who booked a family holiday in Dublin. So, yes, I've had a good summer and all that resulted in an impromptu blogacation (blog+vacation, you know). I have quite a few stories to tell you but I have to figure out how to continue blogging until I get a new laptop. Maybe I should give mobile blogging a go and see what happens, though I'm afraid my posts will be more talk and less pics. Or maybe I should blog less until I get myself another laptop and can edit photos again. I will see. Do you have any tips to blog from mobile devices? How do you organize your blogging?

Have a lovely week, y'all!
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