Going to Ireland and just visiting Dublin is like going to the U.S.A. and only seeing New York City. Sure, they are great cities, but neither can provide a picture of what actually lies within their nation’s heart. The third member of our travel party, Maggie, was only able to join us for the Dublin portion of the trip. After adoring the Irish countryside, we felt obligated to share the green part of Ireland with Maggie. There is a variety of bus tours to the area, but as we discovered, car hire from companies like Sixt is the only way to truly experience Ireland.
A short drive (an hour or less) outside of Dublin lies Wicklow County and the Wicklow Mountains, characterized by its swooning glacial valleys. As we got out of the city, it didn’t take long for Maggie to fall in love (and Lauren and I to fall in love all over again). The tiny country roads and little towns among them are so fresh and you fall quickly into the fairy tale – that is until giant tour buses nearly run you off the road on the narrowest of streets.
Our first stop on the Wicklow County day tour was in Glendalough, known for it’s natural park and remains of an early monastic settlement (AD 498). The church, watch tower, and graveyard, all date back starting in the 11th century, and are nothing short of impressive. The real beauty of Glendalough though lies within the surrounding nature and the lakes. Since it is a national park site, there are tons of hiking trails, caves, and even a waterfall, to discover.
Thanks to Sara and here prim-o suggestion, our next adventure was at Johnnie Fox´s Pub. It’s claim to fame is the “highest pub in Ireland”, but besides driving there, you won’t realize it is on a hill as there’s no killer view to seek out. It is, however, the cutest pub in the entire world. Outside there is some seating, but inside there is a ton and the restaurant just keeps on going. At night, there is live Irish music and dancing under a roof with colorful hanging pots. And the food? Well, the food is mind-blowing. Known for having some of the best seafood around, our wallets were skimping and we had to pass on the seafood platter for some other deliciousness: salmon linguini, Guinness pie, and seafood pie. All were delicious, but I HIGHLY recommend going for the Guinness pie and don’t miss out on the special brown bread appetizer. Oh, and the whiskey cake for dessert was mmm mmm good (think gingerbread-y, whiskey goodness).
Probably the funniest part of the whole Johnnie Fox’s outing is that we were so obsessed with the place, that we had a serious discussion about rushing back to return the car by 6 and catch the Johnnie Fox’s bus at 6:30 back to the pub for the evening festivities. Ultimately, we decided that it was pure insanity, but a part of me still wishes we did it. #JohnnieFoxsFanClub