I landed in Ireland about 8:00 am on Tuesday August 3rd. I don't sleep well on planes as I have to keep awake in case we crash (see Debra you're not the only one with a fear of flying). Not sure why I would want to be awake if we crash but that logic didn't help at the time. I was in a bit of a daze as I collected my bike and pannier bags. I packed my 4 panniers into a large duffel bag to avoid the excess baggage fees that would have been in addition to the $100 fee to transport my bike so I loaded the duffel and bike box onto a trolley and headed to…actually I had no idea where I was going. I wasn't up to trying to put my bike together and then fight the busy traffic so found a taxi to take me to the town of Howth and a Bed & Breakfast where I could put everything together and get a good sleep. Neither worked out as planned. A stripped nut on the front rack which holds 2 of my panniers and intermittent sleep meant Wednesday started with me feeling tired and without the use of my bike.
The weather here is very pleasant with clouds and 20 degrees (about 70 F), a nice change from the heat and humidity of Bermuda and even the day I left Toronto. I went into Dublin on the DART (local train), found the part at a bike store and then toured the City. I quickly realized why I like cycling again as visiting tourist sites is draining. I went to Trinity College to see the Book of Kells. The Book is a Latin transcription of the 4 gospels written in 800 A.D by Monks in Western Calligraphy and is considered a national treasure of Ireland. The exhibit showed how the Monks would work with simple tools from sunup to sundown transcribing the gospels and creating intricate artwork. It was quite incredible and definitely worth the visit. Interestingly, the College also held the "Brian Boru" harp from the 14th Century. The Irish Euro coins are imprinted with this harp as is the Guinness label. After about 3 hours I had enough of touring so just walked around the old part of the City, had a coffee, people watched and enjoyed the afternoon. That's more like it.
On Thursday August 5th I packed up my bike and headed out with every intention of biking north. Somehow, despite having a map and being in an English speaking country I went the wrong way. The Irish do have their own Irish or Gaelic language with only about 10% of the population speaking it and most of them live in the West. The road signs are in English and Irish and the 2 languages are not really that similar. Irish is one of those languages where a single word translated from English becomes lengthy multiple words in Gaelic. I must have read the Gaelic portion of the sign!
Once I noticed a sign for the "Port of Dublin" I knew I went the wrong way since I was supposed to be heading away from the City. There are 2 things all cyclists hate, one is wind because in 90% of the time it is directly in your face and the other is back tracking. I did both at the same time since I had a tailwind heading south so I had to retrace my steps, against the wind.
There seems to be a lack of campsites in this part of Ireland but have been told there are more as I head up the coast and then again on the West coast. They tend to be for "Caravans" or what we would call Mobile homes. It was a fantastic day and I met many of the legendary jovial (and talkative) Irish. This is going to be a great place to tour.