Our last scheduled bus tour departed early Tuesday morning for Wicklow Mountain National Park. Finding our bus was a huge debacle. There were several buses lining O'Connell Street, but each driver we approached had no idea which group we were looking for. In the midst of it all, I suddenly had to use the bathroom. I have the best timing, huh? We raced back to the hotel since we couldn't locate a public restroom (or toilet, as the Irish say) and made it back in time with minutes to spare. We learned shortly after departing that our bus contained fourteen nationalities, and Michael and I were the only Americans on board. I loved hearing such a large variety of different languages.
The drive to Glendalough was absolutely breathtaking. The mountains were a rich, mossy green. They didn't look real! We stopped by the infamous bridge from P.S. I Love You, as well as several scenic overlooks that offered incredible views of the hills and valleys below. Our bus driver, Richard, was hilarious. He told the best jokes, used abbreviations for everything (pictures were "piccies", and souvenirs were "souvies"), and played traditional Irish music as we rolled through the mountains. He also informed us that there really are more sheep in Ireland than humans. We twisted through winding passages, peered off the edge of towering cliffs, and passed several beautiful streams surrounded by blossoming flowers.
After two and a half hours, Wicklow Mountain National Park came into view. We hopped off the bus and began a short hike to the lower and upper lakes. The weather was gorgeous, and the trails were packed with visitors. It actually got so warm during our hike that I had to remove my jacket - a rare occurrence, as most of our trip was filled with rain. When we reached the upper lake, we sat on the pebble shore and gazed into the distance. It was so quiet and peaceful. Children giggled and screamed playfully in the background as small waves lapped over the rocks. I tried very hard to keep my camera turned off because I wanted to soak in the moment and experience it completely, but let's be honest, how could you not photograph such beauty?
Our trip ended with a quick stop for lunch in Avoca. We scarfed down a delicious tuna melt topped with sweet chili, and free shots of Jameson were distributed around the restaurant. We sat with a new friend, Avi, and told each other our stories. He was visiting from Jerusalem with the intention of studying conflict analysis in Belfast. Talking to him was fascinating. I admired the fact that he was traveling alone. That's something I've always wanted to do. Soon after, Richard summoned us back to the bus. The warm sunshine and soft Irish music put me right to sleep, and when I woke up, we were almost back in Dublin.