This past weekend Mark, his parents, his uncle, and I went to Arklow, which is in County Wicklow. Our journey started with a taxi, which made three stops to pick us all up, and then brought us to Connolly Station. We managed to get everyone and the bags up the escalator. Of course, we were massively early, so we had some coffee in the station bar/restaurant while we waited. Traveling with three elderly is a little bit like traveling with three small children. They move slowly, they get easily confused, and they wander off. Mark's parents nearly got on the first train that pulled up, but we managed to grab them in time! The train ride was only an hour and a half, which I spent listening to my ipod and nodding off.
Being in charge of booking the hotel, I realized quickly that there aren't a whole lot of options for hotels in Arklow, and reading the online reviews, I was sort of horrified. But I chose the nicest looking one that wasn't massively expensive, the Arklow Bay hotel, mostly for the pool and jacuzzi. We hopped a cab to the hotel, and checked in. I had to show Mark's parents how to use the card key -- it was like something from Encino man. One dinner was included with our room, so after having a couple of drinks in the hotel's outdoor seating, we stayed put in the hotel and had a really very nice three course meal.
Then on Saturday, we hired a guy to take us around the outlying areas of Arklow. We passed through the town of Gorey, which reminded me of Dun Laoghaire a bit -- if I'd had any spending money whatsoever, I'd have liked to stop in Gorey. But as it happened, we drove through onto Ferns, which is in County Wexford. We stopped at St. Edan's Cathedral, and walked around the cemetery. Everyone but Billy was pretty bored with this stop, but I managed to get a couple of photos with (unfortunately) my phone. I will have to update this blog entry once Mark gets his photos developed!
We went on to Vinegar Hill, which (for those who don't know) is where the Irish rebelled against the British in 1798, but they lost miserably, sadly. It's strange to be on the spot and think of what occurred, since it's such a scenic spot.
There's sort of a fort/tower at the top:
Here's Bill and Billy, pondering Irish history:
Joyce, enjoying the sunshine and fresh air:
We drove through Enniscorthy, and then it was onto the Meeting of the Waters in Avoca.
There was a monument with song lyrics, and Billy, who has fond memories of his mother on this spot, sang the song for us:
Here, the driver went into the back of his van and pulled out five champagne glasses with strawberries and a bottle of champagne. He also had orange juice for us to make mimosas. It was lovely! We sat and enjoyed our champagne, which Joyce admitted she had never drank before. I'm not sure she was very fond of it, anyways. We stopped in a pub in Avoca and had a couple of drinks, then it was back to Arklow for us. We stopped into a favorite pub/restaurant of Billy's and who did we bump into but his second cousin and her husband! So it was a happy family reunion, and they plied us with drinks and food, and it was a happy night indeed.
On Sunday, after breakfast at the hotel, we stopped back into Arklow for some lunch and a stroll. I took a photo of this stencil graffiti:
The train ride back was like something out of a bad sitcom, but we managed to get home all in one piece. Then, on my way to the store, I came upon our neighborhood mini horse that I could never seem to get a photo of. But I was able to follow him and pretend to be using my phone and catch a snapshot of him. He's so tiny!!! Lately there seem to be a lot more horses around the neighborhood than usual. It's pretty surreal to be biking around the city and nearly crash into a horse as you turn a corner. When I try to tell people back home about the horses around here, they don't believe me! But when we were out driving around the countryside, I said, "Hey look! They have horses out in the country too!" har har har. Anyways, here's the little guy: