The start of my Summer 2010 traveling is Ireland for 2.5 days.
Currently I'm sitting in a really lovely hostel in Wicklow Town, County Wicklow (http://www.wicklowtownhostel.ie/). Since I am in Ireland less than 3 days, I wanted to get out of Dublin which I heard repeatedly is not the greatest place to visit. Just my brief stop there to catch a train proved that I wanted to get away from there!
So, I looked up hostels and tried to find a nice, remote, small city. Why? I wanted to get a feel of true Ireland and the people. Well... I did find just that...Rathdrum village, County Wicklow! My first clue that I was in a remote place was that when I got off the train (with my rolling luggage!!) there was no one around. No taxis, nothing. I felt very self-counscious because I had rolling luggage. I felt the need to tell anyone I interacted with why I had rolling luggage instead of a backpack. (if you would like the explanation, I will happily explain as well!). In order to find the hostel, I had to stop at a police station and ask random passerbys several times as well as drag my luggage for about a mile.
When I finally got to the hostel, there was no one there. I saw a man walking around in the kitchen and I motioned to him to let me in. He opened the door and told me that he wasn't supposed to talk to anyone about the hostel, and strictly warned me not to tell the hostel workers he had talked to me. I found this odd. I had to cross the street and go through a small gate to a personal home in order to find someone who worked there. I wasn't sure it was the right house and felt extra scared when I saw a sign warning of a dog. (since I was inside the gated yard). I finally got situated in the hostel and decided to find out what to do for the rest of the day. I thought I might go to Glendalough or go for a hike. Basically I discovered there was nothing to do in the city, and there was no one at the hostel except for the strang person I met at the door and one other strange man. (So, I felt very safe! hah). It seemed that both of the guys were at the hostel were basically living there temporarily. (they gave vague answers as to how long they were staying and what they were doing).
The woman at the tourist info center told me that a group of locals went talking every Thursday at 7pm. Yah! So, I decided to join that group and it was wonderful. I would say the average age of the group was probably in their 40s- 50s. The leader of group, Tom, (who was in his 70s) let me know they do 23 different hikes durring the summer. We drove into the mountains and hiked for 2.5 hours. There were amazing views! (disclaimer: I decided to take my point and shoot on this trip instead of my SLR, so do not expect amazing photos since I hate the quality of photos my point and shoot takes). The best part about the hike was getting to talk to all of the locals- who were very friendly and caring.
The downside of the hike was that I had invited Keith (the strange man from the hostel) who told me at the beginning of the hike that he thought it would be fun if we pretented to be a couple. I ignored this idea. He then proceeded to want to take multiple pictures with me along the hike. This made the locals think we were together. When I got back to the city after the hike, a car full of Irish women drove up and let me know they had just realized I wasn't with the Keith. They warned me to be very careful and gave me their home phone numbers if I need anything. This was kind of them but also made me feel worried about sleeping in the hostel with only the two other strange men for company. Thankfully I had a separate locking room.
After sleeping successfully and safely, taking a shower and destroying my hairdryer (which I forgot to turn to 250 voltage) I decided to get the heck out of Rathdrum. I headed by bus to Wicklow Town which is where I am currently. I am a beautiful hostel owned by a family who opened it less than a month ago. It is night and day different than Rathdrum. I was greeted when I arrived by the owner who made me a pot of tea. I got to meet her family and learned that the hostel used to be their family home. I quickly met the other guest of the hostel, Sharon, who invited me to hike. So I went on a 3.5 hour hike after just arriving! Whew...
Today I am relaxing leisurely in Wicklow which is so cute. Full of small shops and cafes. It is a port town and there are not too many tourists. There's not a ton to do, but it is quite relaxing. (plus I love the hostel and family!). I highly recommend everyone to stay at this hostel.
Tonight I'm flying to Liverpool, spending the night in the airport and then flying ot Kaunus, Lithuania at 6am. I will write more from Lithuania!