I left Killiane Castle around 10:30 AM after showering, packing, loading most of my stuff back in the car (I had to have Paul, one of my hosts, bring my larger, heavier suitcase down for me; I told him that I could do it myself but everyone would hear it go thump, thump, thump down each stair from the fourth floor down) and another very nice breakfast.
The Irish National Heritage Park is pretty easy to get to from Killiane Castle and is well sign posted. I got there just as a bus load of school kids had arrived and were going in, but somehow I seem to have missed them and for the most part I had most of the sites there to myself. I think the kids were in the auditorium for the AV presentation when I went through the lobby and then were on a guided tour after.
The park is another archaeological/historical theme park. I think only one of the 16 sites displayed on the grounds was the real item in its own actual, original place and that was just a ditch built by the Normans around one of their first forts in Wexford, Everything else, though, is a recreation but they are all very well done and quite interesting. There are recreations of dwellings from the paleolithic and neolithic periods through the Iron Age, the Vikings, the Normans and an 1857 version of an old round tower. I did a lot of walking there to see all the exhibits, including up a steep hill to where the recreation of part of a Norman castle and the round tower are located. In some ways my favorite recreation was the Viking settlement, mostly because it was alongside a beautiful lake. The view of the lake from higher up the hill at the fake Norman fort and round tower was also lovely.
The drive from the National Heritage Park to Glendalough took about an hour and half and was mostly on two lane roads, which weren't too terribly narrow, although the terrain was through and into the Wicklow mountains and the Wicklow Gap. Things were pretty busy when I got there and I had to park in the overflow parking lot over by the Glendalough Hotel which is right next to the official visitors center and which oddly enough I don't remember even seeing when I was there with the CIE tour ten years ago. I think we went in a different entrance from the bus parking area
Entrance to the entire site is free, but I paid my ten euros to go into the visitors center and to see the very well done exhibitions there. The main monastic site by the lower, smaller lake is fairly small and doesn't take that long to see and that's the part we saw on the CIE tour. This time I also wanted to take the hike down to the upper lake as well. Although St Kevin originally had his first hermitage somewhere along the upper lake I didn't see any sign for it at all. In fact, the scenery itself is the main reason for doing the loop which is a total of 3 kilometers or almost two miles long.
After that it didn't take me too long for a tour of the monastic site before moving on here to Dublin.
Sometime last night or this morning, possibly on the drive from the Heritage Park to Glendalough, I decided to return the car early, as soon as I got to Dublin, instead of hanging on to it until August 1 when I fly from Dublin to Glasgow. Part of the reason was parkingmy hotel, the Jurys Inn on Parnell Street, doesn't have its own parking so guests have to pay to park in a lot that charges 10 euros a day. The main out of town trip I was thinking of doing would have been down to Glendalough, which is only an hour away, if I hadn't gone there today. And I think that I should be able to get anywhere within the city and local area by bus or cab without having to drive on the city streets myself, which became even more appealing when I experienced the traffic downtown and the road work going on in the hotel's neighborhood.
I was lucky enough to find a place to park right in front of the hotel in the small loading/unloading zone. It took three trips to bring all of my things from the car up to my room since I needed to completely unload the car. When I was trying to leave my car was blocked in by a cab right on my rear bumper, a cab right on my front bumper, and a third cab double parked next to me. I sat there with my turn signal on for about half an hour before the cabby in front of me came back to his car from wherever he had been, asked me if I was trying to leave, and got the cab blocking me in to get out of the way while he pulled forward enough for me to pull out and even guided me out when I wasn't sure I had enough room to not hit his cab.
Getting to the airport was pretty easy and took about half an hour. I saw a sign for rental car return but that turned out to be for off site services. I had been told I could return my car directly at the airport instead of at the remote site where I'd been driven to on the shuttle from the airport so I doubled back and onto the airport itself where I still didn't see a sign for Enterprise car return. I had to ask a couple of the traffic wardens where it was, and I had driven past it and that was because there aren't any signs for it along the road. I had to go around again, and this time follow the signs to enter the parking structure for Terminal 2 and then follow the signs for rental return. I did so and found the area for Enterprise returns OK but there is no one down there, just a sign saying to return the keys at the rental counter without saying where the counter was. I had been gone for over a month, and couldn't remember that the rental counter is upstairs in the parking structure on the third floor or where the elevator is. I had to go into the only rental car service desk on the ground floor of the parking structure, for a completely different company, and ask him how to get to the Enterprise counter. He told me, and said that they always get asked by people looking for where to go after dropping off their rentals from the other companies as well.
I took a cab back here from the airport and had a very helpful and informative driver. He told me that the double-decker sightseeing buses run by the City of Dublin itself have a stop near my hotel and mentioned some of the shopping centers and other attractions nearby. I came up to my room and picked up my home iPhone because my Irish Android smart phone's battery had apparently run out (I sent my usual text message to Michael & Tim letting them know I'd arrived safely by plugging the Irish phone in first).
The hotel and my room are quite nice. I'm up on the 4th floor, in a room with a big desk and work surface as well as a smaller table and an armchair which is pretty comfortable and a love seat or short sofa. Besides the usual bar and restaurant and resident's lounge the hotel also has a gym with treadmills which I can use in case I don't get enough exercise in while wandering around townthat might happen and would be the first times I've used a treadmill to do my daily exercising since I left home.
The hotel's in a fairly central locationsee the description of its location on the hotel's web site above. There are at least four large grocery/convenience stores right up the street, including a large Tesco across the street that seems to be open late, and a branch of Lidl, a chain I've seen in several places but had never been into before this evening because I've usually seen them when I've been driving past them. I went in the one just down the street and for the first time since I've been here in Ireland I actually found some zip close bags that actually seal.
I had asked at the reception desk about where to go eat at around 8 PM on a Sunday. The guy at the desk mentioned a place called the Church, which is a restaurant/night club in a gorgeous old church not far away from here. It's pretty easy to get to, but the first time I tried I went past the first street where I was supposed to make a turn because it wasn't marked anywhere I could see. I had to come back to the desk and ask where the street I was supposed to turn onto was, and it was actually the one right at the nearest corner.
By the time I found the Church, however, it was just before 9 PM and they were no longer serving food. I did learn that Sunday through Wednesday they have a free show with traditional Irish music and dancing from 7 to 9 PM. I had a very nice seafood risotto and dessert at a small Italian place just up the street from the hotel instead.
Earlier tonight, after unpacking and getting everything organized, I checked which evenings I've already scheduled events. I'm going to a performance of "Riverdance" Tuesday evening, and on Friday I've got a ticket for dinner and the Traditional Irish Evening at the Abbey Tavern (ten years ago on the CIE tour on our second day in Dublin we went down to Glendalough and that evening went to the Traditional Irish Evening; this time I'm doing them closer to the end of my time here in Ireland instead of at the beginning). That leaves me tomorrow or Wednesday to have dinner and watch the show at the Church, and tomorrow, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday or Sunday if I want to go on the musical or literary pub tour or just find a couple of places to hear some Irish traditional music elsewhere.
It's now about 12:30 AM and I think I'll wrap this up for tonight. I think after breakfast tomorrow I'll catch a cab (that shouldn't be hard, since they seem to congregate near my hotel) and take my large suitcase with the zipper that needs repair over to the luggage repair place and then take the hop on, hop off bus tour of Dublin in the afternoon. I think I'll get the 48 hour ticket instead of just the 24 hour one, so I can use it for two days instead.
I've got my lists of what I want to see in which areas of town after that. All I need to do is decide what in which area I want to go to and how to get there from here and back using buses primarily and cabs when necessary. I have seven more days to explore.